The Entry-Level Rig
This cost-effective PC is an excellent companion for running general applications and should make quick work of most games, albeit with some of the eye-candy dialed down. If you're looking for the best value, you'll want to pick and choose from the components on this system and our Enthusiast's PC.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 1400||$160|
|Motherboard||Asrock AB350 Pro4||$100|
|Memory||Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2400||$55|
|Graphics||MSI GeForce GTX 1050 OC 2G||$108|
|Storage||Crucial MX300 275GB||$100|
|Storage||WD Blue 2TB||$68|
|Case||Fractal Design Define S||$75|
|Power||SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W||$40|
Core System Total
Motherboard, Processor, Memory
For a few years and numerous guide updates, the Core i3 has headed up the entry-level rig. In a complete reversal of roles Intel now handles the budget box and AMD jumps aboard the entry-level rig. The Core i3-6100 has been dropped in favor of the more capable Ryzen 5 1400.
It’s worth noting that the G4560 and i3-6100 are almost the exact same CPU, so the budget box really has received a large upgrade.
Anyway, the Ryzen 5 1400 is a fully unlocked true quad-core with SMT support for 8-threads. At $170 there is simply nothing that can compete with it. For $20 more you can land the 1500X which has twice as much L3 cache, but for gaming with a mid-range graphics card the extra cache has no impact on performance. Also, if you are going to cough up the extra $20 for the 1500X we feel you might as well find an extra $30 and get the 6-core 1600.
The lower power draw of the R5 1400 means it works very well with affordable B350 motherboards like the Asrock AB350 Pro4. For a sub-$100 motherboard the AB350 Pro4 offers a very impressive feature set, like the 9 power phase design for those wanting to overclock. There are some other unexpected features as well such as dual M.2 slots for high-speed SSDs, USB Type-C, and ELNA audio caps.
We inherit the same 8GB DDR4 kit from our budget PC designed to operate at the 2400 spec.
Usually we allocate ~$150 for the GPU in our Entry-Level System. Last time we stretched that to a full $200 to secure a GTX 1060 3GB card and right now we'd feel happy with recommending the Radeon RX 570 for its official $170 price tag. However, availability AMD graphics cards is horrible at the moment due to cryptocurrency mining, so we have settled for the GTX 1050 to keep the total build cost within budget.
The GTX 1050 is very capable at 1080p using medium to high quality settings in most games, but if gaming is your main concern, then stick with the GTX 1060 or try to get a Radeon RX 570/580 for a reasonable price.
Opinions vary when it comes to the need of a dedicated sound card. While integrated solutions were less viable for serious computing setups a decade ago, we think they're fine for entry-level or even mid-range usage today.
Our entry-level rig is allotted a budget of around $200 for storage and these days that opens the door to some impressive options. Years prior we were strictly limited to disk drives, but as SSDs have continued to drop in price and increase in capacity, they should be a given even in lower-end builds.
The Crucial MX300 275GB is an ideal SSD for this system and the budget allows for a roomy 275GB model. Also since the budget allows for it, we're also going for a larger secondary hard drive, in this case the WD Blue 2TB.
SeaSonic's S12II 430B "Bronze Power Supply" features a pair of 17 amp 12v rails and as the name suggests is bronze certified. The 430w output is more than ample for this build and at just $40 the S12II 430B is hard to beat in terms of value. For peace of mind, SeaSonic backs this unit with an industry leading five-year warranty.
Since we're going for a ATX build, the DeepCool Tesseract BF seems like a cost-effective chassis, supporting 310mm long graphics cards, 169mm tall CPU coolers, any length power supply, seven expansions slots and plenty of storage options for a case of this size. Other good options include the Corsair Carbide Series 200R and our favorite pick for this build, the Fractal Design Define S.
In this latest revision of the PC Buying guide we've dropped specific recommendations for monitors and peripherals, separating these from the core PC build which is the main concern of the guide. This is by design, as most of you already have favorite brands and models for input devices, and you may already have them from previous builds.
Remember we have dedicated buying sections for keyboards, mice and monitors in our Best Of section. With that said, we'll still drop a few hints on recommended devices given a certain budget...
The ViewSonic VX2757-MHD is our budget recommendation in the Best Monitors guide. For less than $200 you get a 27" monitor with FreeSync, a 75Hz max refresh rate, and a 2ms response time. This is still a 1080p monitor but that's the perfect resolution to use with the recommended GPUs which will provide enough performance for nearly any game.
Budget 2.0 and 2.1 setups from Logitech, Creative, and Cyber Acoustics can be found at $20 to $40 and some of the more popular models include the LS21, VS2621, and our top recommendation, the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602.
Mouse & Keyboard
The budget-oriented Logitech Wireless MK345 is another keyboard/mouse combo that we very much like and have a lot of experience using. At just $35 it's very affordable given what is included. However at this point investing an extra $100 on a mechanical keyboard or higher-end mouse is certainly worth it.