Machine reviews

Machine reviews
The Convergent DIY Steam Machine.

VINCENT CHANG asked three computer hardware distributors to assemble their ideal Steam Machines. While these local distributors do not sell such systems, you can use their configurations as a starting point for your own Steam Machine. Note that actual street prices may differ from the recommended retail prices listed here.

Convergent DIY Steam Machine

CPU: Intel Core i5-4440 processor ($229)

Motherboard: EVGA Z87 Stinger ($375)

RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB ($120)

Graphics: Palit GeForce GTX 750 Ti StormX OC ($249)

HDD: Seagate 2TB ($112)

Casing: Corsair Obsidian 250D ($139)

Power supply: Thermaltake Smart SE 630W ($85)

Total: $1,309

Convergent's Steam Machine is the most affordable system here at around $1,300.

It achieves this with a less powerful Core i5 processor, which is, frankly, more than adequate for SteamOS.

The Corsair Obsidian 250D mini-ITX case is able to fit a full-sized power supply and a full-length graphics card. So if you plan to upgrade from the Palit GeForce GTX 750 graphics card in future, you will not need to change the case.

As it is, you will do pretty well with this Palit graphics card, which is an overclocked variant that is faster than the standard version.

My only grouse is that its black aluminium front panel is too bland for my taste. It will likely go unnoticed in the living room, which is probably Corsair's aim.

What I do like is the transparent window at the top of the case. It lets me check at a glance if the CPU fan is running. I can also make out the error codes displayed by the motherboard. The front fan is a large 240mm version that is able to cool the hardware quietly.

Unlike the other two systems, this Convergent machine lacks built-in Wi-Fi support, though it has Bluetooth. You can use an Ethernet cable or buy a USB Wi-Fi dongle.

This EVGA motherboard is geared for enthusiasts with overclocking-friendly settings to get the last drop of performance from your hardware.

While relatively inexpensive, this Steam Machine could be made more affordable if you skimp on the motherboard. A cheaper case and a smaller hard drive will also help to reduce the cost to something closer to $1,000.

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