PROS / Starting out in the low $500s, the Avatar Elite series makes gaming possible for all budgets, while still giving room for upgrades.
CONS / No liquid cooling or USB 3.0 ports means you may have a limited experience.
VERDICT / Ideal for a first foray into customizing your own machine, the Avatar Elite series is a solid place to start.
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If you want to experience of customizing the gaming PC for your own needs but want a seamless and simple process, the Avatar Elite works well. While it may not offer the range of customization options of other self-built gaming computers, it's a good place to start. Models that easily transition from less expensive to more powerful machines mean you keep the customization process all in the family.
Armed with the base NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 graphics card, you can upgrade your gaming desktop up to a NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 as you make your way up the Avatar Elite totem pole. While its 384 stream processors are much less impressive than other, more graphics-heavy models, you'll still get 1GB to 2GB graphic memory in your fully customizable gamer computer.
Starting with a Gigabyte GA-78LMT motherboard, you can upgrade to a Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3H within the Elite series, while the base processor starts at an AMD FX-6100 and can be upgraded to a Intel i5-3450 – perfect as you progress in your PC gaming needs. And one of the main advantages of the Elite series is that you can choose between hard disk drives – cheaper but less reliable – at 1TB to 2TB and solid-state drives – expensive but more reliable – from 120GB to 480GB, with up to three hard drives in all.
Expect the Elite series to showcase an array of the features you'd expect from other good gaming computers, including a 450- to 500-watt power supply, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and DVI ports and of course, DVD optical drive. While the series does not offer a liquid cooling upgrade, the Elite Series is compatible with both Windows 7 and Windows 8.
While you get set up, take comfort in the three-year warranty, along with email and phone support to get you started. Drivers are downloadable, and there is an extensive list of FAQs to check out to help answer any questions you have.
If you're just getting started in the customization arena, the Elite Series should work well. You can start with a cheaper model and work your way up as your gaming needs dictate.