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My 'New' PC Console! (SteamBox!)

AshleyAshes

Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
'New' as in 'I put it together', it's mostly made from fairly old parts. If previous threads have been indication, TransformerRobot will crap his pants in fear at this thread.

So I've chatted in the past about my first box, a sorta monster all-in-one HTPC/STeam Machine. It features an A8-3870K, Radeon HD 6850, 21TB of hard drive storage, and it does a LOT of tasks: Steam Big Picture Mode, Kodi (Formerly known as XBMC), MySQL, SickBeard, CouchPotato, Sabnzbd, Windows SMB Server, DriveBender, and also Cinema 4D Team Render Client. (Cause sometimes I need to render computer graphics). This new machine is more powerful, built from my old workstation, but it'll show you how you could put one together yourself. This new box is only a HTPC/Steam machine, no other services run on it, it'll be going in the living room when I move into my new apartment for November.

Intel i7 3770K (Can overclock to 4.3ghz easily, but I actually run it stock and with two cores deactivated to reduce temps and the sound of the main system fan)
Asus P8Z77-V LK
Corsair CX500 500w PSU
Xigmatek Asgard II ATX Tower
Patriot Sector 5 8GB RAM Kit. (My other Kodi/Steam Box had 16GB of this stuff and I just pulled half of it from that box.
Seagate 2TB Barracuda Green Hard Drive (This drive is five years old and still spinning. I pulled it from my DrivePool storage array, replacing that with a 5TB. 2TB should be enough for Windows 7, Steam, XBMC and whatever else.
PowerColor Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDD5 (I got this for $60 used off a friend when she was upgrading)

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Long story short, I rebuild my workstation with an i7 4930K and had most of an i7 3770K system left over. It's sorta overkill for this task, but a good quad core will leave this box running games happily for years and it'll just need GPU upgrades (Which will be handme downs from my workstation when it gets new graphics). The HD 6950 won't win any awards in 2014 but it's good enough. This box is built to be a home entertainment system. It runs Kodi (XBMC) for media, playing files over LAN from the pervious mentioned crazy server box, and it runs games using Steam's Big Picture Mode. Using an IR remote and Xbox 360 controllers you rarely need to pull out the wireless keyboard for it, the goal is to make something as 'console like' as possible while still having Win 7 Professional running under it. It is just a desktop PC but it's going to live in a living room while hooked up to a TV.

You can build a box like this yourself pretty easily, either from mid-low end parts or old parts. Some of the 'PC Gamer Master Race' would argue for 'Uber Crazy Graphics' but there are a TONNE of games out there on Steam that don't have crazy demands in specifications and they're a lot of fun. Infact, while this is a pretty high end consumer quad core machine, I actually have two of the cores disabled to reduce operating temps and how loud the fan gets. Made with desktop parts, it's Corsair H60 liquid cooler isn't exactly silent but that'll get a more suitable replacement in the future. With two cores disabled, gaming performance was hardly effected, you really could use a high end dual or low end quad core with some 'okay' graphics card and get great results on a tonne of Steam games. Sit back on the couch and have some fun. A lot of people would probably prefer to build something a bit smaller and that's cool too. You can do something more reasonably sized with a mATX motherboard and the many interesting mATX Home Theater PC cases out there and even more with an ITX setup. I went with full ATX because it's what I had, it'll be under the TV anyway, and it offers easy expansion options.

For controllers I've used Xbox 360 Controllers, but other Xinput controllers would be great. The Logitech F710 would be a good alternative. I have four spread between two boxes, and sometimes use for on one box when doing gaming nights. I got custom colored shells from eBay just to make them more fun to look at. I also have some Hori EX2 arcade sticks I could use for fighting games.

The main advantage here is pretty clear: Steam Games are cheap as heck. I have over 100 games and most of them are pretty suitable to chilling on the couch with a gamepad. Some are even great with four players. The hardware is mostly spare parts or outdated but it can still do some great gaming. Since it has a quad core, it should have some serious legs with only a GPU upgrade, giving the system some good life. A lot of people talk about building crazy insane fast gaming PCs but this is a good example of going it the opposite direction.

It's a PC? It's a game console? It's both!

And now a somewhat slow, 4min video of the box operating. Shows bootup, a bit of Kodi (XBMC), Steam switching between games, and a bit more.

[video=youtube;y55A4kCTnLo]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y55A4kCTnLo&feature=youtu.be[/video]

And you can see the first box I built here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa37yA_mm_4
 
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