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Mini-ITX SteamOS machine

by JLineberry

9
11 Comments

Details

Date Published

July 9, 2017

Date Built

July 7, 2017

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.594 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8.008 GHz

Description

I have finally completed my mini-ITX SteamOS machine. I hadn't built a computer system since about 2005. However, I decided that I wanted to build a gaming PC. I wanted it to be small so I decided to go with the Mini-ITX route. I have experience using Linux and decided that I wanted to try SteamOS as the operating system.

My budget was $1,000 and I was able to stay within that. Originally It was going to be an $800 build but some large games took a bit too long to load, so I decided to go the SSD route for faster load times.

SteamOS is Valve's custom operating system built on top of Debian Linux. The reason I decided to build this is that nearly all my games support Linux and saw no need to get Microsoft involved in my build. Since starting in May 2017, Valve has updated SteamOS and the drivers just work with this build. It was easy and no special hacks or backports are needed. When I installed it originally before the SteamOS update the wifi and Bluetooth had to use backport drivers. But that is no longer and issue.

This build works great. It was straight forward hooking up everything, with the exception of some of the tiny wires that hooked up to the board. I probably could have done better at cable management. Either way, everything works as it should. I find that SteamOS is very smooth and makes an excellent gaming system. I can run non-Linux games via Home Share, or WINE but haven't found a need because I have about 58 games that are Linux compatible.

Part Reviews

CPU

This is a great, affordable CPU. It works well in a low to mid range gaming computer. It would be great for a desktop computer as well. One downside is that Intel's Optane NVMe memory modules with super fast cache will not work with it. The sites often say that they require 7th generation chips (Kaby Lake chip), but the Intel site excludes Pentium chips with this technology. Get an i3 if you want to boost an HDD. However, that is not a huge problem get a regular SSD if HDD load times bother you.

Motherboard

This is a wonderful little motherboard. It works well with everything I have thrown at it. I like that it has included wifi/bluetooth and pretty much everything I needed.

Memory

This is memory, and it works well. Not much more to say except I got it for a good price.

Storage

I was going to buy a regular SATA SSD when I saw this. This is really impressive and so far is lightning fast. I had one game that on HDD was taking over 10 minutes to load all the maps and content, this one does the same thing in under a minute. Everything seems more responsive and I have found that things I attributed to a CPU bottleneck were actually an HDD bottleneck as I no longer see the issue.

Most surprising is the size. This SSD is smaller than a stick of ram.

Video Card

I was concerned about the 3GBs of onboard memory, but this GPU is awesome. I have no issues running 1080p graphics at the highest settings. A few places I have reduced the settings from ultra to high due to unoptimized games.

Case

Great mini-ITX tower. A little larger than I originally expected but am overall pleased with it. It is extremely easy to access from the various sides.

Power Supply

It is a PSU, I got it for a good price. The cables are a bit much and difficult to deal with in my mini-ITX build but it is okay.

Monitor

I a pleased with this monitor, however since buying it I have seen similar monitors for less. But this one fluctuates on price as well. Despite this, I feel I got a good price and it works as expected.

Comments Sorted by:

MerekM 2 points 17 months ago

I don't know exactly what you use your computer for, but to me it seems dumb to get 16gb of ram when you could focus that on the cpu or gpu, especially when ram is much easier to upgrade.

KevinMoondust 11 Builds 2 points 17 months ago

16GB stopped being outrageous this year. It has already become the recommended requirement for PC games. Considering that RAM prices are thru the roof right now (and might get worse), I'd say getting that much RAM today was wise.

JLineberry submitter 1 Build 1 point 17 months ago

I thought about buying only one stick of 8gb ram and in the future buying another as I needed. But I read somewhere that people have problems getting RAM to work together when doing it this way. If I recall correctly, it is buggy even if you purchase from the same memory maker.

Sartajaujla 1 point 17 months ago

maybe he was doing work that required 16GB of RAM.

JLineberry submitter 1 Build 1 point 17 months ago

I plan on having a Plex server running in the background, that would require a minimum of 2gb ram. I also plan on dedicating a few gigabytes of ram to a multi-seat boot on this computer. One monitor would load up the Steam system (GPU), the other would load up Gnome (motherboard). This requires dedicating some ram to the CPU onboard graphics. I purchased the 16gb of ram for $101 and felt that it would serve me better because I will use this computer for other things than gaming.

zebheone 2 points 17 months ago

I Love linux too! my build has linux mint as OS but wuld love to try steam os. What games do you play on this linux machine?

Go Linux!

JLineberry submitter 1 Build 1 point 17 months ago

Mainly, ARK Survival Evolved and all Valve games. In ARK, I play with a huge tribe and can go to areas that would crash many computers. I own 55 games and only 3 are windows only and they run beautifully in WINE (Batman Arkham City, The Witcher 1, the original Left4Dead)

Recent additions that I playing on this system: Borderlands 2, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III (looks amazing) , Torchlight II , Bastion , Shadow of Mordor

JLineberry submitter 1 Build 1 point 17 months ago

BTW, I did want to build the system with Arch, or Fedora but I love how SteamOS works and will be sticking it for the time being. The current desktop setup I have is standard Gnome. Which I kind of like.

pizzapunx 2 points 17 months ago

I'm also going to build a HTPC. Im considering going with Windows steam big picture mode, but I'm also considering steam os. How's the gaming performance on your build?

JLineberry submitter 1 Build 2 points 17 months ago

I think it is great, but I have a history with Linux that spans more than a decade. If you know how to do it, you can turn SteamOS into a full Debian system by adding a few repositories and you can then load so much software on it. The SteamOS part still runs.

Also, I put Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, MLB, and other websites in my Library originally, they appeared in the Steam Libary and would launch a Webapp for the individual site I wanted. I added my SSD and haven't got around to reinstalling them again. But while in BPM, you can always go to the webpages directly without having them launch.

Finally, I plan on adding a Plex server to this system. It will be my HTPC that has everything in BPM.

PrintBuildz 2 Builds 0 points 17 months ago

First comment (maybe, not sure) also nice build!