Should You Build Your Own Steambox?

What Now?


SteamOS is being hailed as the gaming alternative to Windows, but right now, in its current form, I just don’t see that happening. Many system integrators are making Steambox systems, which is great, but I just can’t accept that even if the OS is free, that it offers better value for money when compared to Windows or other Linux Distros such as Ubuntu. Why would you want to limit yourself to one software distribution platform such as steam? You’ll miss out on many great deals that are available to other PC gamers.

Pricing and Potential Savings

  • Fractal Design Node 304 – £54.99 eBuyer
  • Intel Core i3-4330 – £107.99 OCUK
  • Sapphire R9 285 – £169.99 OCUK
  • Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GG £41.99 OCUK
  • Crucial BX100 120GB SSD – £52.99 OCUK
  • Gigabyte Gaming 5 G97N Motherboard – £124.99 OCUK
  • Cooler Master Gemini II Cooler – £29.99 Pixmania
  • Fractal Design Integra M 750 – £61.93 CCL

Total Cost – £644.86*

*This system can be built for less, cheaper motherboard, chassis, a cheaper PSU even, but I’m a strong believer that you should always leave headroom for future expansion. An extra £100 spent today could mean you save hundreds next year, as you won’t have to upgrade your motherboard or PSU (for example) when you buy a new chip or graphics card.

Compared to the currently advertised Steambox systems from brands such as ASUS and Alienware, to name but a few, our option is about on par, if not a little cheaper due to the modest specifications. The downside with the “console-like” integrated systems they offer, is their systems are tricky to upgrade, whereas we have the flexibility of choosing our own chassis.

A copy of Windows 8.1 is available for under £50 from many legal sources online, not even 10% the total cost of our build and it adds a lot more functionality and ease of use than SteamOS likely ever will.

So, should you build your own Steambox? No, build a PC and stay away from SteamOS, at least for now. Valve still have a mountain to climb before their software is ready for mass consumption. However, if you’re an enthusiast tinkerer and love having a poke around in command prompts and experimenting with hardware, there’s some interesting concepts to be found in SteamOS that can make for an interesting, if somewhat frustrating, weekend project.

Thank you Fractal Design, Sapphire Technology, Crucial, Gigabyte and Cooler Master for providing us with the hardware required.