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How to Build a Budget Steam Box Today for under £500 (February 2013) £499.70

How to Build a Budget Steam Box Today for under £500 (February 2013)

steambox How to Build a Budget Steam Box Today for under £500 (February 2013)

 

 

The Valve SteamBox is one of my most anticipated pieces of hardware this year. Although you will have to wait until Autumn to get your hands on their brand of PC gaming in the living room. Or do you? With the push to smaller, quieter PCs, you can now get plenty of power with smooth good looking graphics for very little money. In this article I will look at how to buy a Steambox today for under £500. Now this build will be to my personal “wants” in terms of specifications. Some people will prefer the speed of an SSD, while others will have a different preference in graphics card. This is the benefit of a Steambox PC, do as you like! With only 1080p resolution to worry about, you can have surprisingly low-mid range specifications in places of which there is a wide range of equipment available.

My own requirements are:

Strong WiFi – My TV is far from my router and isn’t going to move anytime soon.
Quiet and Low Power – Obvious reasons. I have good ventilation at the back of where it would sit, so that is not an issue for me but could be for you.
Relatively Cheap – With a £500 budget I would have a PC Console hybrid which will last a good few years of well specced gaming, without worrying about upgrades any time soon. Also will double as a handy media centre for iPlayer etc.
Plenty of Disk Space – I want all games, and videos to be on the box itself. You may prefer external storage.

 

The £500 SteamBox build (Prices Correct Feb 2013)

Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI

eBuyer – £82.00

This is a superb motherboard which offers all you could need from a living room PC. Built in fast Wifi, Intel WiDi (could be great in the future), and support for the latest features like USB3, SATA3, PCI Express 3.0, Ivy Bridge etc. If I was building an SSD model I would get a SATA2 board and a Wifi adapter separately.

 

Case - Coolermaster Elite 120 Advanced with Elite 500W PSU
eBuyer - £53.38

I really like this case. Its fairly large for an ITX but this allows you to have multiple hard drives and even a full size DVD/Blu Ray drive. Right now on Ebuyer you can get it with a sufficient PSU for only £53. The case by itself is around £39. The flexibility it allows means you can customise your Steambox with full size parts, while the looks are good enough to be under your TV.

 

Processor - Ivy Bridge Intel Core i3 3220 3.30GHz
Amazon UK - £90.22

You can now get Ivy Bridge processors for almost the same price, sometime cheaper than the equivalent Sandybridge. Ivy bridge processors are around 10-15% better performance than the Sandybridge, so for the same price I will take that. Plus ultra low power consumption at rest. Some may wish for i5 power, but I have seen even Pentium based Ivy Bridge machines run wild with a decent GTX graphics card. Safe bet at this price is the Core i3 for me.

 

Memory - 8GB Kingston HyperX Genesis
Amazon UK - £41.51

This 2x4GB 1600Mhz RAM is pretty special for a bog standard price. All you need. Perfect.

 

Graphics Card - Asus GTX 660 DirectCU II OC 2GB
eBuyer - £180.34

This is where the real flexibility comes in and I’m sure many of you will have different opinions on what card to have. Depending on whether you want just good enough or Ultra graphics is up to you. At £180 this Asus GTX 660 graphics card is very powerful, overclocked from the factory and should give most people all they need graphics wise for many years to come. Those who want more now, should spend an extra £30 on the Ti model. Why Asus? I’ve always liked their equipment, and the customer service is superb. Obviously get who you like the best, or whose card is on offer at the time. E.g. At time of writing you get Assassins Creed 3 free, and the OC model is cheaper than the standard card.

 

Hard Drive - Western Digital 1TB Caviar Blue
Amazon - £52.25

I’m going to get controversial here and say no SSD. As you know you can get a superb SSD like the Samsung 830 128GB for sub £70. If you have to get a SSD, then this would be my choice. In fact it is my choice in my laptop! However with games getting ever bigger, and the £500 budget being pushed, I would go for a fast 1TB hard drive like the Western Digital Caviar Blue instead. It is quiet and fast for a mechanical hard drive. Some tests say the Seagate Barracuda is faster, but there have been a few questions on Seagate reliability recently hence the omission. I personally have never had a problem with them though.

 

Operating System - Ubuntu
Free - http://www.ubuntu.com

Ubuntu is currently being pushed by Value and is being celebrated with some discounted games thanks to the new release. The Steambox will be Linux based and so can you. Of course you can use a current Windows license and install Steam on that. But without the SSD it would be nice to have ultra fast loading with near instant on that Ubuntu provides.

 

Total £499.70 delivered

 

There you go. Install Steam using Ubuntu or your existing Windows OS and away you go. A darn good PC for your living room. If you have a smartphone you can even use an app like Lazy Remote to control it. I did not budget for a controller. Each to their own here. I like my XBox 360 controller for living room based gaming, while some prefer their current mouse/keyboard combo. Either way I hope you enjoyed my potential build and maybe it got your creative juices flowing for your own Steambox build (Please post in Comments). As usual Chomping Turtle links are affiliate based and I appreciated when you use them to buy (it adds no extra cost to you). I don’t add links just because they are affiliate. If I can find a better price / service I will add them. This build was done entirely via Amazon and eBuyer. I think they have superb customer service and are regularly about, if not, the cheapest prices online.