Should You Build Your Own Steambox?



I’ve chosen the Fractal Design Node 304 chassis for this build. It’s a gorgeous looking chassis, it’s small enough to fit under the TV or next to your AV stand, desk or wherever you want it really. It’s got a super clean looking front panel, a built-in fan controller and lots of room on the interior for some decent hardware, as well as future expansions.


I’ve got a Dual-core i3 4330 3.5GHz, which may not sound like a massive powerhouse, but that’s because it’s not. However, I’ve put this chip through its paces in a few gaming rigs here at eTeknix HQ and I wouldn’t be fooled by that dual-core moniker, it’s nothing fancy, but it will get the job done without spending a huge amount of money. If you can spend more money on a faster CPU, go nuts, it’ll be even more awesome.


The Sapphire R9 285 graphics card is a great option for a compact build and while this chassis can actually house a card bigger than this, I was drawn in by its excellent price vs performance ratio and compact form factor.


Again, nothing crazy here, but our set of Crucial 8GB 1600MHz Memory 9-9-9-24 will be more than enough for any gaming we’ll be doing and it’s also reasonably priced too.


The Crucial BX100 120GB SSD is fantastic, not only is it affordable, but it still gives you all the modern high-speed thrills that SSDs offer; this will be perfect for our SteamBox. Although it’s worth keeping in mind, you’ll likely want a larger capacity drive for lots of games, but for the sake of testing, 120GB is enough for me today.


The Gigabyte Gaming 5 GA-Z97N Mini-ITX motherboard is a little more expensive that some options, but it has been designed to work especially well in gaming systems. You shouldn’t skimp on such an important component and the Gaming 5 series has plenty of cool features to justify the price tag.


The CoolerMaster Gemini Low-Profile CPU cooler isn’t the most powerful cooler in the world, but it’s more than capable of handling the chip I’m using today, whilst also staying pretty quiet. If you’ve got a system next to your TV, you certainly want it to be seen and not heard.

Power Supply

The Fractal Design Integra 750 is nice and simple, it has just enough connectors for a compact to mid-size system, good efficiency and a reasonable price tag. The wattage is more than we need, but it never hurts to have a little room for expansion.