Machine reviews

Machine reviews
The Corbell 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.

Corbell DIY Steam Machine

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K ($327)

Motherboard and graphics: MSI Z87I Gaming AC and MSI N760 2GD5/OC ITX bundle ($799)

RAM: G.Skill RipjawsX Series 16GB ($269)

HDD: Samsung 2TB ($112)

Casing: Xigmatek Nebula ($119)

CPU fan: Xigmatek Praeton LD963 ($32)

Power supply: Seasonic G-550 ($125)

Total: $1,783

Corbell's Steam Machine is the best-looking one here. Its classy Xigmatek Nebula chassis will not look out of place in the living room.

It has three metal side panels that can be easily removed, giving you quick access to the interior. While this is convenient, the panel's corners are sharp and liable to nick you in a careless moment.

The Nebula is taller than the other two chassis here, but has a smaller footprint. However, it means that the top graphics cards, which are fairly long, will likely not fit in it.

Corbell chose an MSI GeForce GTX 760 graphics card designed for mini-ITX cases. It runs at a higher clock speed than the standard version.

The MSI motherboard chosen features the latest 802.11ac wireless chipset. This is great if you run Windows, but SteamOS does not include the proper Wi-Fi drivers.

It means they have to be found and installed manually. This requires you to know something of the Linux operating system. The SteamOS forums pointed me to the right online location for the drivers.

This is also a reason not to choose cutting edge hardware for SteamOS, unless you are willing to spend the time and effort searching for drivers. In extreme cases, hardware manufacturers may not even have Linux drivers available.

This Corbell configuration is the most expensive of the three at almost $1,800. Personally, I would reduce the RAM from 16GB to 8GB, which should shave about $100 off the bill. And given the Wi-Fi issues with the motherboard, I would pick the MSI Z87I, which uses the older 802.11n wireless chipset instead.

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