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How to build the ultimate Steam Machine on any budget today

We priced our final build in line with the average dollar price of some of the highest-specced commercial steam machines. There are several launching at $1299 (around £870 or AUS$1702). Could we match or better that price with our own build? You bet we could.

The Gamer Grand self-build specs and cost

Silverstone

It looks modest but packs a punch
  • CPU - Intel Core i5 4690K (£174 / around US$260 or AUS$340)
  • Graphics - MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4GB (£274, around US$409 or AUS$536)
  • Motherboard - Asus Z97 Pro (£146, around US$218 or AUS$286)
  • Storage - Seagate 8GB SSD + 1TB HD Hybrid (£65, around US$97 or AUS$127)
  • RAM - 16GB Corsair Vengeance (1600 DDR3) (£105, around US$157 or AUS$205)
  • Case - Silverstone SST-TJ08E (£65, around US$97 or AUS$127)
  • PSU - Corsair 600W Builder Series CX PSU (£53, around US$79 or AUS$103)
  • WiFi - N/A (WiFi on motherboard)
  • CPU Fan - Cooler Master 212 Evo (£25, around US$38, or AUS$49)
  • Total = £908 (around US$1111 or AUS$1452)

Grand designs

This isn't the solid gold plated, triple graphics card, eight core CPU spec we might come up with if money were no object - but it's enough to build a very capable gaming PC for SteamOS.

The workhorse here is the well-reviewed and reputedly quiet NVIDIA GTX 970 - the same choice as several commercial Steam Machines. We're spending three times as much on graphics as our last build to squeeze out the most from triple-A games.

Bang for buck: we're sticking with Intel's Core i5 CPU

Bang for buck: we're sticking with Intel's Core i5 CPU

We've also doubled up on RAM again, a relatively cheap way to eke out some more performance. You'll notice that we haven't taken the leap up to i7 for our CPU - or increased the number of cores any further. Again, we gambled that the performance tipping point comes at four cores and anything more would be unnecessary expense.

We have upgraded to i5 though; an Intel 4690K running at 3.2Ghz - and with some room left over for overclocking. This is the first build where we've specified anything more than a stock CPU cooler for that purpose.

As for the case? Our final choice is a more sober affair than the others, designed to reflect the seriousness of the machine. It's the only one without a PSU already fitted as standard. 600 watts should be enough to run this spec, including the 230 watts required for the GFX card, so we went for the Corsair 600W Builder Series CX.

So there you have it — three fanciful dream Steam Machine builds that give you no excuse not to delve into Valve's exciting living room-based world of gaming. Which one would you pick?