Building a Steam Machine

steam pcMy latest project was putting together a PC for the sole purpose of running, purchasing and playing games from Valve’s Steam service. It’s been a few years since assembling my last PC and I was surprised to see some of the familiar pitfalls have been cleared up and or made easier. Except for one small hiccup with a bad power supply and a returned case this build went swimmingly. So I’d like to share what I did and show you that a pretty serious PC gaming machine can be had for under $600.

I had done some research on specs for comparable Steam boxes and gaming PCs before finding this guide on Digital Trends. This was the list of parts I took shopping and the design I stayed close too. My wife and I have an Xbox 360 and PS4 so playing latest gen games were not really a priority. Mainly we are interested in the independent games, and those can be played on most any machine. I also liked the sub $500 price but as you will see it didn’t stay that way. Here are the parts I chose:

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-3220 – great price at just over $100
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII M4 – the boxed Intel processor comes with a cooler but this is a larger cooler, just the thing in a gaming machine
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H61M-S1 Micro ATX – small flexible and all the ports I needed
  • RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 1600 – plenty fast for the games I want to play
  • Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 750 1GB – again a very worthy GPU and easy on the wallet
  • Hard Drive: Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 64MB Cache SATA – I splurged and went with a terabyte drive because I could
  • Case: Rosewill FMB-01-450P BLK – my first choice had a bad power supply but this is a cheaper and turned out to be a much nicer case

Another advantage was I found all of the parts at Amazon so I could use my Prime membership for free shipping and a 2 day delivery. SO with tax all of the above game to just under $477.00. I would have stayed on the sub $500 price point but I had to make one change. The article mentions using the Steam OS which is free but it is still in Beta and it is compatible with only about a quarter of all the games in the Steam Store. Since I wasn’t in the mood with wrestling with drivers and I wanted to make sure the games I wanted would play I decided to pay the OS tax, I mean purchasing a copy of Windows. Since I needed a quick way to load it I also opted for a DVD RW drive an Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST. All totaled this added $114.00 so I kept the cost under $600 as opposed to $500. This way at least I had no trouble finding and loading drivers though I had to do a Google search for help installing the wireless receiver for the XBox 360 controller.

Setting up all the software a a breeze. Windows 8.1 installs quickly and boots in 30 seconds. I disabled the lock screen so the machine can go right into Steam and jump right to the games. I have to add a Bluetooth dongle for a keyboard and mouse as not all the games are compatible with a controller. Also I didn’t add WiFi because where this PC will sit is right in front of our router so it will be connected via Ethernet. The EVGA card even supports HD Audio through HDMI so one cord is all I needed to the back of the TV. This was a fun build and now my wife and I can enjoy some of the gaming goodness our laptops can’t provide.

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~ by Vinny Alascia on December 12, 2014.