There are many options for anyone looking to spend less than $1500 on a rig. These entry-level gaming PCs provide a good foundation for future upgrades, but they also mean you don’t miss out on playing the latest games like Elden Ring on decent settings.
Personally, I think these PCs are often more interesting than your $4,000 bruiser playing every game at 4K and beyond. While it’s fun to play around with, the reality is that most people don’t have these types of scratches on their bank accounts. The real challenge for system builders is to provide a solid gaming experience for those without unlimited funds with the right components.
Named after the Egyptian god of war, the $1500 ($1,494 to be exact) CLX Set Gaming PC (opens in new tab) wants to be at the front of the pack in a crowded field of PCs all looking for space on your desktop. This compact gaming PC makes a good first impression right out of the box, but much like the ancient Egyptian gods, they can be fickle deities.
The build I received is of the CLX Set series desktops in a small form factor micro-ATX case. There’s a pretty thorough PC configurator on the site that lets you choose pretty much every component right down to closed-loop liquid-cooling options.
There are little boxes that tell you what kind of frame rate to expect from a handful of games. I would have liked to see some more contemporary games used in this type of part picker feature on system builder sites. I’m sure GTA V is still very popular, but it’s also almost a decade old.
CLX Set Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 3.7GHz Hexa Core
Cooling: CLX Quench 120 closed liquid cooler
motherboard: ASRock A520M-HV5 Micro ATX
Memory: 16GB (2x 8GB) XPG DDR4-3600
Graphic: Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3060 12GB
Storage: 1TB Seagate Barracuda QS NVMe M.2 SSD
Perfomance: 750W 80+ Bronze Gamdias Kratos M1 RGB
Warranty: 1 year parts/ lifetime labor
Price: $1,498 (opens in new tab)
I was able to create a duplicate of the set pc that was sent to me in the configurator to see what kind of lead time I would get which was around two weeks. There doesn’t seem to be much markup for components either. Hell, even the GPUs seem cheap (opens in new tab) which is increasingly becoming a welcome sight.
CLX also offers ready-to-ship PCs that you can have in a matter of days, although these cannot be customized, which is fairly common practice.
Inside this PC are neatly packaged components, ensuring no space is wasted in the white CLX Mini-ITX chassis with the requisite tempered glass side panel. Between the RAM and the 120mm fans, the RGB-loaded components create one hell of a light show in the tight spaces, which are themselves controlled by the software or the front LED button.
Speaking of components, a AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (opens in new tab), 16 GB of RAM and an RTX 3060 GPU power the set. We’ve seen how good the Geforce RTX 3060 (opens in new tab) works as a low-budget GPU on these systems, and this time is no different. The Ryzen 5 CPU, on the other hand, wasn’t really up to the task, as you’ll soon see.
Despite the lack of space, CLX still manages to stow a full RTX 3060 GPU with some space. It’s an odd reversal of the system sent by Redux, which had a motherboard and components sized for a much smaller case, despite sitting in a mid-size case and leaving an unusual amount of real estate inside the PC.
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As you can see from the benchmarks, the set’s closest competitors are those mentioned above Redux ‘good’ PC and the NZXT streaming PC in performance. Surprisingly, the set’s CPU benchmark scores lag slightly behind its slightly cheaper competitors. It was odd to see it score lower than the NZXT Streaming PC (which has the same CPU). The set got a few degrees hotter than the others, which might explain some of its disappointing performance.
Thankfully, the set performed slightly better on our gaming benchmarks and was pretty much on par with the Redux and NZXT PCs (both with RTX 3060 GPUs). The only game where it seemed to shine was Hitman 3, which averaged almost a dozen frames above the competition. Everything else was a few frames above or below its usual price foes.
Where I’ve seen the system struggle was running F1 2021. For some reason the CLX would crash every time I tried to run the benchmark and even trying to start a quick race resulted in the software crashing, not the type of car. When I’m having trouble with a PC, Metro Exodus is usually the pain point; it went fine with no problems.
Hitman 3 and Horizon Zero Dawn didn’t see any of these issues either. However, when you think about 1440p gaming, the set’s performance wasn’t great. So stick with 1080p, which is the resolution where the RTX 3060 performs best and the only place you can consistently hit over 60fps in most modern games on medium to high settings.
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I was happy to see a 1TB SSD for storage; Recently, the systems we’ve received in this price range only offered 500GB SSDs, which frankly isn’t enough for a current gamer’s gaming and media library. It’s always our recommendation when we’re looking at anything under 1TB to upgrade the storage immediately if you’re trying to price a system out for yourself.
A major concern is the noise level on set, which it’s safe to say isn’t whisper quiet. The tiny system is surprisingly loud even when idling. There was a constant loud hum from the five 120mm case fans working overtime. It’s one thing to hear noise during a demanding game, but just watch Netflix? That might be a deal breaker for some. For me, it was the noise seeping into my game chats and work calls that was rubbing me in the wrong direction.
Another common downside to these recent $1,500 builds we reviewed was the lack of USB Type-C ports on the front and back. One place where the NZXT Streaming PC stood out. Considering USB Type-C is the best way to get the most out of devices like external SSDs, webcams, and microphones, it’s always a shock not to see them. But hey, I’m trying to keep costs down and motherboards can be expensive.
CLX’s Scarab set is a nice-looking micro-ATX system with decent 1080p gaming performance for $1,500. However, the noise level of the system and the overwhelming CPU display aren’t really a compelling argument in favor of the machine given what else is available for the same price.