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SteamMachine - Who needs consoles?

by dregnox



CPU Clock Rate


CPU Temperature While Idle

18.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

40.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate


GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate


GPU Temperature While Idle

32.0° C


After I built my new 5-year lifespan gaming rig, I was really interested in how cheap a tower one could build that could 1080p high-ultra game. The main motivation was the hype everyone had for the $400 PS4 and the $500 Xbox One. I was determined to prove to the PC haters that PC gaming is not expensive, in fact, PC gaming has never been cheaper and affordable than today. The goal was to find PC part configurations that absolutely undercut the price you'd pay for an 8th generation game console(which are sold at a loss anyways) and would beat them in real world performance. After making some not that bad theoretical builds based around a dirt cheap, but still viable Radeon HD 6790 @ $80 before tax and Athlon ii x3,x4s/APUs/FX 41XX, I realized that buying all brand new parts wasn't viable in what kind of performance I wanted. I remembered the Radeon HD 5800 series being absolute monsters in performance from back in the day. They're so good Apple still uses them in their Mac Pro configurations 4 years on. In gaming performance they tail closely behind the Radeon HD 7850 for real world performance. 5800 = 6900/7900 of its day. Then Valve was all like, "STEAM MACHINES, *******!" Psssh, you know I'm building one of those now; no question.

Currently overclocked to 3.12GHZ, gonna push this bugger hard and try reach 3.4ghz-3.6ghz on this water cooler. It's only 18C idle and 20C with medium usage. It isn't unlocked so I'll have to fiddle around with clock freqs and voltages and see how much mileage I get.

Part choices:: GPU: Craigslist for $90. Kind of wish I had done a better job of searching because there were ones for $70 that i found later. :(

CPU: Ebay for $54. Got this little beasty from Korea. **** son, 8 day shipping time and $8 shipping fee? That is a bargain. Cheaper and more powerful than anything I could hope to purchase brand new or second hand in my area. This was the best price(including shipping) to power CPU on ebay I could find.

Mobo: I had to buy a brand new as there were no good boards for less than $60 in my area or on ebay. So I bit the bullet and ponied up for the shipping and tax for the board.

RAM: Black Friday, WHAAAAAT!? Oh man, this was THE BEST! $49 for G.skill sniper 1600mhz? That was a score. Thanks, Newegg. <3.

HDD: This is the unused 2nd storage drive from my i5 Ivy Gaming Rig.

Case: Look at that tiny sleek looking bugger. Its cool and small; fits nicely in the TV stand.

Heatsink: I was going to go with a cheap air solution, but, I had a problem; the case is too shallow for most heatpipe-block air heatsinks. The amazing low profile air solutions were around $40-50 so I figured I might as well just grab the water cooled solution for a little more money as it was on sale.

PSU: I wanted a cheaper PSU but I had no choice in the matter. I was repairing my friends machine and he was having trouble booting to windows after POST. I rigged up my PSU into his machine and got it working. So I bought a new PSU for him. Turns out it was his wall socket and not his PSU. :( So, we had this spare PSU lying around. Instead of paying me back he just gave me the unused PSU.

UPDATE Couldn't get above 3.12ghz without instability or failing POST. I was able to boot to 3.185ghz but BSOD 30mins into Prime95. I was hoping I could fiddle with voltages but my BIOs has the options greyed out, so it seems 3.12ghz is where it shall stay. It's still a pretty good OC and more than enough for gaming. Temps are super low. I reduced my fan speeds to 50% at 40C Degrees temperature in BIOs and it still maxed out at 44C under prime95. Going to try get as low as 37.5% fan speed and disable my rear case fan to try get it as quiet as possible since temperatures are so low.

Comments Sorted by:

Shiku93 14 points 47 months ago

Lol Pokeball looking PowerCooler in first pic +1 just for that. And pretty good price for parts

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 3 points 47 months ago

lol, I hadn't even noticed that. It does look like a pokeball.

Max21 1 Build 3 points 47 months ago

That's pretty good for that price. I was going to say, why so old parts, and then I looked at your price and your description.

jake_burlock 2 Builds 2 points 47 months ago

Used 5850's are great on a budget. Great build for the price.

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 2 points 47 months ago

Thanks man. I'm going to start loading some games on and see what kind of FPS I get once exams are done.

m00f 6 Builds 1 point 47 months ago

Really good write-up. +1 for supporting apple on a PC site, But I think it is worth noting that apple's new mac pros are coming out very soon

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 1 point 47 months ago

Well it's fun to bash Apple but you have to give them their dues when they do something right. Still over priced as hell, though. Personally, I grew up on Apple machines, so I was always expected to fix and repair them and when I jumped ship to Windows I still kept up with Apple hardware. Yeah, the MacPros are a crazy design change. I don't like them from a work stand point. They've taken a lot of the dynamic flexibility away and I feel that is detrimental to a workstation.

TheRealCheekyGit 1 point 47 months ago

Awesome! +1

bigpete08 1 point 47 months ago

I do not think that you make much of a strong argument because the fact that you have to make the pc build on old parts to make it affordable is not a great arg. You are saying in order to make a pc affordable/better I have to get used pieces, as oppose to getting a new console. PCs are better on the pockets as oppose to consoles because of many other reasons, but I think we should swallow our pride and say the performance that consoles are selling at especially the ps4 is good. Apart from that +1

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 1 point 47 months ago

Oh, dont get me wrong. Consoles are amazing for their price to performance in terms of gaming and passive media consumption. They're entertainment boxes and they do that very well. The console hype got me fired up because I kept hearing people say PCs are way to expensive to make if you want to game. But it just isnt true. I don't think my use of used parts detracts from the argument. Using new parts is not a requirement to build a PC. I never set out to build with a part plan in mind, I simply kept my eyes open for really good deals before I committed to chipset. I was originally going to build C2D E8400 and OC it like crazy instead I ended up with an low-end Phenom ii. I had hoped to stay under $400 but circumstances pushed the price up, sadly. Here is a parts list of new parts that's still sub-$500. http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/p/2gOtA

bsdev820 1 Build 1 point 47 months ago

Love this build, great job but with the GPU you could have had a 7850 for that price fairly easily and that could slay this hd 5850. Just a thought. Great build though, I love to see these budget-oriented builds.


dregnox submitter 3 Builds 1 point 47 months ago

That price range isn't achievable in my area. A HD7850 is still around $150-170. Second hand it's $120. At the time when I got the HD5850 the HD7850 was still worth nearly $200. When my brother upgrades his machines GPU I'll take back my HD7850 that I've lent to him but I doubt he'll be willing to part with it anytime soon haha.

bsdev820 1 Build 2 points 47 months ago

Really? look at this


and tell me it hasn't been at $90... I understand your point but there have been and still are some incredible deals on that card. Still, great build. Not trying to start a war or anything I just want to say that if you play your cards right it could be had that cheap.

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 0 points 47 months ago

I did preface my response with, "in my area". I live in Canada. I didnt mean to imply the price hadn't dropped that low, just it hadn't where I am from. America generally has lower prices for parts(and everything else), much lower tax, more national and local competitors, more frequent and better sales and you have the history of Black Friday. Logically, you'd be able to find HD 7850s at a significantly lower prices as either amazing sales or clearance or refurbs. But, like I said, here it isn't possible to get such a low price without buying second hand or getting really lucky with the aforementioned.

Also, thanks for showing me the trend chart. I didnt know it was on the site.

bsdev820 1 Build 1 point 47 months ago

Alright sounds good, sorry for my error. The price trends and drops are a great feature of this site - you can get emails alerting you every day/week about price drops.

Jamerson23 1 point 35 months ago

Quick question, did you have to buy Windows 7 again? I'm building a computer and I don't want to pay $100 again.

DavisTheWalrus 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago

the card fan looks like a pokeball to bad its out of style

ValetTheGamer 1 point 31 months ago

hows the motherboard? im planning to get the same

jchamb49 1 Build 0 points 47 months ago

Pretty good build, nothing special. I trust that you will upgrade one day.

And, welcome to the world of pc gaming :D You made the right choice!

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 0 points 47 months ago

Yeah, I definitely have upgrades in mind down the road, but they arent a priority. I made sure to get an AM3+ board so I could jump ship to a cheap FX 6300 or 6350 maybe next year. Maybe even something better. Considering how unbelievable some of the Black Friday deals I saw for AMD were, I'll probably try grab some kind of AMD octo-core next time.

bigpete08 0 points 40 months ago

How is the board working for you?

dregnox submitter 3 Builds 0 points 40 months ago

The boards been great so far. I haven't run into any problems with the computer since I originally built it.

Nvisible -1 points 47 months ago

Wow, really good console killer

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Firecrackers 1 Build 4 points 47 months ago

"Heatsink: I was going to go with a cheap air solution, but, I had a problem; the case is too shallow for most heatpipe-block air heatsinks. The amazing low profile air solutions were around $40-50 so I figured I might as well just grab the water cooled solution for a little more money as it was on sale."

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