Steambox is certainly grabbing a lot of headlines throughout 2014, with system integrators (such as CyberPower) creating their own custom Steambox style systems, and chassis manufacturers creating new cases that are suitable for the job. Of course, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors surrounding Steambox, but we’re going to blow away any doubt and get you up to speed on what a Steambox is and how you can do it.
First thing is first, Steambox is a PC, nothing less and nothing more. What we’re really looking at here is a clever rebranding by Valve to make HTPC gaming sound cool. Of course, it really is cool and credit goes to Valve for creating something that is appealing to both mainstream console gamers, as much as it is PC gamers. The major difference for Steambox is the introduction of SteamOS, which is still in beta, but once again all that really is a Linux distro designed to launch Steam as the native desktop. This may sound a little complicated for some, but don’t worry as I’ll be revisiting this subject over the next couple of weeks to bring you up to speed on how it all works, how you can build your own, set everything up and more.
While much of the fun stuff is certainly contained within the games you’ll be playing, let’s start things off nice and easy and find out about the chassis you’ll be using. There are lots of great PC chassis’ on the market, but I’ve picked up a bunch that I thought would be ideal for the job and today I’m going to put them to the test. I’ll be looking for several key factors from each chassis, their price, form factor, hardware/component compatibility, built quality, acoustic performance and thermal performance.
The chassis’ I’ve picked are quite varied, and I’m hoping to find something suitable for each budget from each of these.
- Silverstone GD05
- BitFenix Phenom Micro-ATX
- Corsair 250D
- Thermaltake Urban SD1
- Silverstone SG09
- Cooler Master Elite 130
I’ll also be using my Lian Li test bench to get open-air results of the thermal performance on our CPU and GPU.