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I'd like to build the Steam Console.

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March 14, 2012 1:08:44 PM

So, I guess Valve aren't going to build and sell me a Steam Box gaming PC that'll fit under my TV and run Arkham City (or whatever) happily, after all. That sucks; that sounded like an awesome idea.

The logical conclusion is that I should damn well go and find one myself. The Alienware x51 is a nice looking piece of kit, but damn if it isn't expensive. So, a home build it is, then. Greg Coomer's system that was theorised to be a proto-Steam-Box apparently went like:

  • Intel i7 CPU
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • This Zotac Z68 mini-ITX motherboard with an on-board Nvidia GT 430.

    That seems like a totally reasonable spec for this sort of system, I'd have thought. The i7 and 8GB RAM seem pretty overkill when paired with the GT430 GPU, though, so I might save a little cash by going for an i5-2500k and 4GB RAM.

    The thing that stumps me is that case. I'd love to get a system with these specs into a box that size to go in my living room, but I can't figure out what that case is, nor what PSU Greg was using to keep all those components rumbling along, and how he fit all that into that tiny box. Also, I feel like a case that size might be asking for trouble down the line with cooling.

    Can anyone help me out?
  • Can anyone identify the case in that photo?
  • What would the power requirements of this system be?
  • Is it going to run disgustingly hot and melt the components in a few weeks of use?
  • Can anyone offer an idea of how this system would perform in the real world? Greg said it ran "Portal 2 FAST", but I'm betting that that's in part because Source is a pretty elderly engine that'll scale waaaay back if you need it to. Would a GT 430 be up to - say - Burnout: Paradise on my TV at 720p? Just Cause 2? Arkham City?
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    March 14, 2012 2:29:30 PM

    You will want this case and the GT 430 is not a gaming card get something like the Radeon HD 7850/70 because they are efficient, quite and powerful so perfect for the living room Steam Box.
    March 14, 2012 3:07:37 PM

    Thanks for responding with some suggestions!

    There're a few issues here I probably didn't make clear enough in my original post.

    The key aim here is the small form factor. The case you've posted there is comparatively tall/fat/square; I like the look of Greg Coomer's build because it's not much bigger than a console. It would fit in the shelves under my TV, next to my old XBox or DVD player, say. The case you've posted appears to be too fat in either direction for that.

    I also don't know much about that case, since you didn't post a link or a brand name. Is it mini-ITX? Does it come with a PSU? Would it be adequate for the components discussed?

    A discrete graphics card - like the HD 7850 you mentioned - would be great from a gaming point of view, but it would necessitate going with a new mobo (The GT430 is built into that Zotac one), and it would need a whole bunch more space in the case. It would also increase the power requirements of the build, further increasing space needed for the PSU and increased airflow to keep the temperature down.

    Of course, if you think all of that is achievable in a small, flat(ter) form factor similar to the Coomerbox or the Alienware X51, then I'm all ears; extra graphical oomph is great!
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    March 14, 2012 3:20:44 PM

    Four026 said:
    Thanks for responding with some suggestions!

    There're a few issues here I probably didn't make clear enough in my original post.

    The key aim here is the small form factor. The case you've posted there is comparatively tall/fat/square; I like the look of Greg Coomer's build because it's not much bigger than a console. It would fit in the shelves under my TV, next to my old XBox or DVD player, say. The case you've posted appears to be too fat in either direction for that.

    I also don't know much about that case, since you didn't post a link or a brand name. Is it mini-ITX? Does it come with a PSU? Would it be adequate for the components discussed?

    A discrete graphics card - like the HD 7850 you mentioned - would be great from a gaming point of view, but it would necessitate going with a new mobo (The GT430 is built into that Zotac one), and it would need a whole bunch more space in the case. It would also increase the power requirements of the build, further increasing space needed for the PSU and increased airflow to keep the temperature down.

    Of course, if you think all of that is achievable in a small, flat(ter) form factor similar to the Coomerbox or the Alienware X51, then I'm all ears; extra graphical oomph is great!

    Sorry mate but thats the best there is for a small form factor gaming box the GTX 430 is not for gaming. The Silverstone Sugo case I showed has a Good 650watts PSU built in and the case is really not big if you can fit an Xbox upright this is even lower by almost half and it is slimer than an X51 when you lay the X51 down. The Silverstone Sugo was engineered very well for max airflow and performance something you cannot get on the Alienware andyou need if you want to play games.
    March 14, 2012 3:30:54 PM

    Case $99:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    The GT 430 might not be the greatest card to game but since it's integrated into the MOBO you want I say stick with it. I would of posted sooner but I was doing some looking around and it appears the GT 430 can actually play Batman, Portal 2 pretty well on high settings. (YouTube) I didn't check out the other games you mentioned. Pair that case and the MOBO you picked with the i5-2400 ( I don't think you'll be needing the 2500K because I doubt you'll want to overclock in a small form factor case like the one i provided. ) Get the 8GB of RAM instead you can find it for very cheap probably the same price as 4GB or a few dollars more. If you need help just let me know.

    As for the power supply I think 400W will suit you well.
    March 14, 2012 3:45:36 PM

    aRodr1guez said:
    Case $99:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    The GT 430 might not be the greatest card to game but since it's integrated into the MOBO you want I say stick with it. I would of posted sooner but I was doing some looking around and it appears the GT 430 can actually play Batman, Portal 2 pretty well on high settings. (YouTube) I didn't check out the other games you mentioned. Pair that case and the MOBO you picked with the i5-2400 ( I don't think you'll be needing the 2500K because I doubt you'll want to overclock in a small form factor case like the one i provided. ) Get the 8GB of RAM instead you can find it for very cheap probably the same price as 4GB or a few dollars more. If you need help just let me know.

    As for the power supply I think 400W will suit you well.


    I actually have this case. It is actually quite big. Approximately 4x bigger than my 360(slim). So that is definately not what the OP is looking for...

    March 14, 2012 3:49:53 PM

    http://www.xoxide.com/hometheater.html has some nice htpc cases.

    wait a month or two. ivy bridge runs at a much lower wattage so less heat. therefore less noise. nobody wants a jet engine under their tv.

    for video i would wait for keppler it might be better for power effieciency and likely therefore sound too. either way you will likely need a low profile card

    make sure what ever case you get it has good air flow or air flow possibilities when fans are added.

    check out silent fans xoxide.com again is a great place for those. its easy to spot the good ones, they have dimples on them. like golf balls.

    asus and asrock makes way better mini-itx boards than zotac and they are much cheaper than that one you had in mind. the mobo plus a 7750 would cost about the same as that zotac board and be significantly quicker.
    March 15, 2012 11:09:57 AM

    Hm. Some good suggestions here. The i5-2500k probably was overkill, given that - yeah - I'm not going to be overclocking this thing. The 2400 might be a smart replacement. Also, it's good to hear that the GT 430 is up to most sofa-gaming games (I'm not going to be playing Skyrim or BF3 on this thing; I have a proper PC for that).

    The trouble with the cases suggested - as Chainzsaw spotted - is that they're both still fairly large. The Silverstone Grandia is 150mm (~5.9") tall, and the Silverstone Sugo is 190mm (~7.5") tall. Now, I've just measured the shelves under my TV, and I reckon the tallest case I could reasonably fit in there is probably about 130mm (~5.1").

    The Alienware x51 is an impressive 9.5mm (~3.74") across its slimmest dimension, and while we've only got a photo to go on for the CoomerBox, it doesn't look like it'd come in that much taller. So it seems that it's achievable.

    A quick browse turns up some really, really small Mini-ITX cases, like the Antec ISK-100. Unfortunately, its PSU is totally inadequate (90W), and it's not clear whether that case would have enough clearance for the cooler on an i5-2400.

    The Lian-Li PC-Q09FB manages to squeeze in under my maximum height at 110mm (~4.3in), and looks like it'd have loads of room for my components, but at 150W, its PSU is still probably not up to the task.

    The CiT MTX002B looks perfect at first glance: it's an impressively slim 91mm (~3.6"), and it claims a more powerful 300w PSU. Trouble is, 300W is probably still lowballing it, and the low price and no-name brand make me suspect that that PSU isn't going to be up to much.

    The more trustworthy Antec have a 350w PSU in their NSK-1480, but at 120mm (~4.7") tall, it's not exactly small, and it's advertised as being Micro ATX rather than Mini ITX, so it's probably a little oversized for this combo.

    So yeah, I'm still not turning up anything perfect. Can no-one identify that case that Coomer used? It's possible that it's a custom casemod or something, but that seems like a lot of effort to go to for a quick prototype...
    March 16, 2012 12:37:48 PM

    Okay, some more digging has revealed that:

    1) That case is the Habey EMC-600SL.

    2) It comes with a 120W power supply (and a "12v 5A power adaptor", which my PHYSICS superpower tells me is only capable of 60W).

    3) Mr. Coomer used a custom power setup for his box, because the stock one was "too puny". Unfortunately, he doesn't "have it here or I'd give you specs". So that leaves me guessing.

    4) The Habey EMC-600SL is pretty well unavailable in my region (UK) outside of imports. Which is a shame, because it's attractive, looks like a sturdy-ass piece of kit and clears an astonishingly diminutive height of just 57mm (2.25").

    So now I'm looking for a reliable supplier who'll ship me an EMC-600SL without charging me an arm and a leg and custom PSU setups for it.

    And/or alternate case/PSU suggestions.

    Anyone got any ideas?
    March 16, 2012 12:55:42 PM

    Yup, build the htpc into the shelving you want it to live in,
    then box it in by making up sections to block off the front and sides, if you post a pic of your shelf/t.v. unit, I'll hack it up on Ms paint to give you a better impression,
    Cases, pfft :p 
    Moto
    !