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NZXT revamps its 'Starter PC' line for gamers and lowers the entry price to $699

(Image credit: NZXT)

For better or worse, NZXT has gutted its "Starter PC" line, swapping out the AMD foundation for Intel hardware. The result is a lower starting price—$699 instead of $899—while still maintaining a relatively attractive value proposition compared to building your own.

These starter systems first debuted in July 2019. NZXT configured them around AMD's second-generation Ryzen processors based on Zen+, paired with a Turing-based Nvidia graphics card. There were two models: Starter ($899) and Starter Plus ($999). NZXT also offered a separate, higher powered "Streaming" build for $1,499.

This time around, there are three Starter configurations: Starter ($699), Starter Plus ($899), and Starter Pro ($999). The goal is the same; offering gamers a relatively affordable system, capable of pushing 60fps or higher at 1080p in games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege, at high settings.

Here's what you get with the $699 Starter build:

  • Case—NZXT H510
  • CPU—Intel Core i3 9100F
  • CPU cooler—Deepcool Gammaxx GTE V2
  • GPU—MSI GeForce GTX 1650 D6 Ventus XS OC
  • PSU—EVGA 450W Bronze
  • Motherboard—MSI B365 Mortar (mATX)
  • RAM—8GB XPG Gammix D10 DDR4-3000
  • SSD: 512GB Intel 660p SSD
  • OS—Windows 10 Home

The system also comes with an MSI MS-B905C dual-band Wi-Fi adapter that plugs into one of the PCIe slots. According to NZXT, this configuration can yield 161fps in League of Legends, 181fps in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and 67fps in Fortnite.

I configured a similar system on Newegg, using the exact same parts where possible (in some instances I had to substitute a different brand, either because the part was not available, or overpriced by a marketplace seller). Here's what I came up with:

  • NZXT H510—$69.99
  • Intel Core i3 9100F—$71.87
  • Deepcool Gammaxx GTE V2—$29.99 (B&H Photo)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650—$149.99
  • EVGA 450W Bronze—$55.99
  • Gigabyte B365M DS3H—$59.99
  • 8GB G.Skill Aegis DDR4-3000—$27.99
  • 512GB Intel 660p SSD—$69.99
  • Windows 10 Home—$109.99

I couldn't configure the same motherboard because it was only offered by a marketplace seller, with the price jacked up to $200—no thanks. That's okay, because the motherboard I replaced it with has onboard Wi-Fi, negating the need for a separate adapter.

The total above comes to $645.79. You could get that price down by swapping out more of the components and/or hunting for sales and rebates. Still, you're looking at about a $55 premium for NZXT's baseline Starter PC. Not too shabby, when you consider it's going toward labor and having a single point of contact for warranty issues (NZXT offers a 2-year warranty on all parts and labor).

(Image credit: NZXT)

If you have a bit more cash to spend on a prebuilt, the $899 Starter Plus looks like this:

  • Case—NZXT H510
  • CPU—Intel Core i5 9400F
  • CPU cooler—Deepcool Gammaxx GTE V2
  • GPU—Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super Ventus XS 6G OC
  • PSU—EVGA 500W Bronze
  • Motherboard—ASRock B365 Phantom Gaming 4
  • RAM—16GB Team T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3200
  • SSD: 512GB Intel 660p SSD
  • OS—Windows 10 Home

And the $999 Starter Pro looks like this:

  • Case—NZXT H510
  • CPU—Intel Core i5 9400F
  • CPU cooler—Deepcool Gammaxx GTE V2
  • GPU—MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS 6G OC
  • PSU—EVGA 500W Bronze
  • Motherboard—ASRock B365 Phantom Gaming 4
  • RAM—16GB Team T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3200
  • SSD: 1TB Intel 660p SSD
  • OS—Windows 10 Home

These obviously aren't for everyone. NZXT is taking aim at gamers who might not feel comfortable building their own PC.

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"Building a gaming PC can be very difficult for beginners," says Johnny Hou, founder and CEO of NZXT. "Not everyone wants to take the time needed to fully understand how to configure and build a system. They just want to play their favorite games. That is why we simplified this whole process with the NZXT Starter Series. As fans take their first steps into PC Gaming, they can rest assured that they’re getting a build that is suitable for their needs and optimized for performance."

I'd argue that it's really not all that difficult for beginners, but I can see where offering this line makes sense. What about the timing, thought?

Next gen game consoles are on the horizon, and new Radeon and GeForce graphics cards will soon be arriving, based on AMD RDNA 2 and Nvidia Ampere architectures respectively. So it's maybe not the best time in the world to buy or build a new PC.

The saving grace for NZXT is that AMD and Nvidia are unlikely to debut budget-oriented GPUs at the outset. And hey, if you simply can't wait any longer, these configurations look like decent options.

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).