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A lot of gamers are afraid of PC gaming and they tend to think that they need to spend anything north of $1,000 in order to get the most out of the system or “compete” with home consoles. But, what if I told you could you build a Steam Machine (or equivalent) that runs SteamOS with all the necessary components, including a case, for only $550?
Now in the last article detailing a comparison between the Xbox One, PS4 and the Steam Machines, you could get a lower-end model of the Steam Machine (based on Valve's public release of the prototype specifications) for wildly varying prices going from as low as $500 to as high as $1500.
Now what if I told you that you could have many of the high-end features from the Steam Machine build, and still beat the specs of the PS4 and Xbox One but at a fraction of the $1k price-point? Well, hang on to your butts because you don't need to wait for a Steam Machine to officially launch to start building one today.
First off, you'll need a motherboard and power supply. You can grab an ASRock motherboard for Intel chipsets supporting the latest LGA 1150 (and for newbs, this means a CPU that runs circles around the Xbox One and PS4) for only $50 from Newegg. You'll need a compatible power supply, at least 500 watts. A 500w Thermaltake power supply can be acquired for as low as $15 from Broker Screen.
Next up, you'll need a CPU, because if the heart of your computer is the power supply, the brains is the processor. You can get a high-end i7 4770 LGA 1150 for your motherboard for only $207. Where do we stand so far? $272 for the heart and brains of your Steam Machine.
Keep going... we're not done yet...
High-end RAM? You got it. How about Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1600 SDRAM for high-speed access times? All righty... that will be $50 from Cloud Toronto.
Technically, you now have a working computer save for a hard drive and operating system. You can get a 1TB SATA hard drive at 7200 RPM, twice the size of what's in an Xbox One or PS4 for only $50 from Star Micro Inc. As for the OS... well, you could load up Linux for free or wait for the SteamOS, which is also free.
You now have a fully functional PC for as far as you're concerned with operation. But, you're not just building a functional PC, you're building a Steam Machine and a Steam Machine needs to be better than its console counterparts, so you'll need a better GPU than what's in the Xbox One and something comparable to the PS4... how about an EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Superclocked with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM? Well, I'm sure you're thinking the price will be killer, but you can grab one from a verified seller on eBay without going through a bidding war for only $157 with free shipping. Alternatively, you could sacrifice 1GB of VRAM and get the 650 Ti Boost for around the same price. And for those of you curious where the card stands against the Xbox One and PS4 in the GPU benchmarks, check it out on the chart from Video Card Benchmark or see where the items are highlighted in the image below for comparison:
Now you're almost done, you're almost there. For those of you who don't want your parts running wild in the nude, you'll need a case. You can grab one from Newegg for $20, although I'm sure you could shop around for a cheaper case or print your own for free with a 3D printer.
Your total, with the case included, should come out to around $548... and just in case, you can get an extra mouse from eBay for about $2 to bring the total to $550 (shipping not included).
Hook up your PC to your TV and enjoy your new Steam Machine. Oh yeah and if you have a PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 or Xbox One controller, you can just plug'n'play for Big Picture Mode and you're good to go.