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Steambox V1

by captainfez


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

March 12, 2015

Date Built

March 11, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.3 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

6 GHz


This machine was a long time coming. I've been putting off buying/building one for about ten years, but now my pile of Steam shame has become large enough that I thought bugger it, let's go. The requirements were that it had to be small enough to sit on a subwoofer in a lounge room, not look teenage-boy-case so it would satisfy partner aesthetics, be reasonably quiet and play pretty much everything in my backlog at 1080 with bells and whistles full on. (I'm not going over 1080 as the Samsung TV I'll be running it through won't go higher than that anyway, so it's academic.) It'll be running Steam in Big Picture mode, as well as occasional Origin/Desura/random games that aren't tied to an online account sessions.

I bought parts with my brother, who built an almost identical disk, except he picked an i3 instead and went with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB second drive, both of which he already had. We picked apart setups mercilessly, and went from case to case before settling on the V1 as being the smallest we could fit what we wanted into - as well as what was in stock (at umart, along with case fans). The rest of the parts were sourced from MSY (mobo, chips, drives, RAM). The R9 and the PSU came from an eBay seller, hence the price difference from retail. Platform was chosen for size, and for upgrade path - I'll be able to put another 1150 chip in there later on, and incrementally change other stuff as well.

This was my first build. Other than being a bit nerve-wracking (**** you, bendy tin motherboard backplate) the assembly was fine, albeit fiddly. Removing the front case face made it easier to install the video card (or to plug in the power cables, rather) but other than the squeezy nature of the case, everything fit in fine.

One thing not mentioned by other people assembling machines based on this case was the need for extra fan power - the Arctic fans didn't come with any adaptors, and as we wanted the machines built rather than sitting in the office waiting for parts, had to go with a solution which was available locally - molex-fan adaptors. Doing it again, I'd order a sata-fan cable and run them from that (thus minimising the number of cables plugged into the modular PSU). But that's for next time. I did a bit of cable routing and unplugging/replugging but am not too fussed about the spaghetti junction inside. It's clean-ish.

Other than a bit of screw loosening/tightening to minimise fan noise, there wasn't much else needed doing. Mental note, though: when tired, ensure you don't use the 32-bit Windows install disk instead of the 64-bit version. Trust me.

I haven't done any benchmarking yet, so I may update this when I do. I'm not intending to overclock it, though, so there's probably not much point as I'm uncertain this would vary much from stock. Only thing I'd add to it would probably be some dust filters for the vents on the side - though these would have to be custom made, as I've not really found any to fit in one piece.

So yeah, it's a bit nervewracking to realise you're in a position to bugger up $1k worth of parts, but what everyone says is true: building a PC isn't as hard as it might seem. I'm more annoyed by how long the driver and Windows installs have taken than with the build itself.

Finally at home and plugged into the screen. 3dMark Firestrike 1.1 score is 6922 with everything on stock. Better than 78% or results so not too shabby I think. Www.3dmark.com/3dm/6407957.

Comments Sorted by:

epicnerdgreg 1 Build 2 points 49 months ago

this is how you steambox.

captainfez submitter 1 Build 1 point 49 months ago

Thanks. I think Steam's launch of their hardware section pushed me into getting it together, finally. It's been a very long time coming: I've been laptop gaming for years now, and that just sucks.

ivan_lazarov 5 Builds 2 points 49 months ago

Nice and tiny build! +1 for team Windforce :)

captainfez submitter 1 Build 2 points 49 months ago

Ta! The size was the key. This isn't the smallest box I could find, but it's plenty small enough and has room for future expansion. I was surprised how easily the card went in - I'd read the length of the R9 would make it fiddly but nope, slotted in. Probably could've gotten away without taking the front panel off, even.

Marshone 1 Build 2 points 46 months ago

Did you hook your two 80mm fans up to the mobo, or straight to the PSU? Are they noisy?

captainfez submitter 1 Build 1 point 43 months ago

They're connected to the PSU via those weird molex adaptors. I should've gotten one of those extended motherboard fan cables with extra connectors, but discovered that late in assembly and thought aw, bugger it. The PSU solution was cheaper and could be bought around the corner, which is why we went with it.

They're not silent but they're not that noisy. If you're playing something (or have it in a cabinet etc) you won't notice it. I notice mine if I'm just web browsing but it's not horrendous, and comes a very very distant second to the construction site up the road from my house.

vinvo 2 points 45 months ago

Your 280x looking snug. :) Would an XFX R9 290 fit? It is longer by ~ 10mm

captainfez submitter 1 Build 1 point 43 months ago

There's more room in there than I thought. I would imagine it would fit in - the extra 10mm is probably not bigger than the maximum stock size? (I mean, manufacturers run smaller generally, right?)

Couldn't guarantee it but there's a bit of wiggle room there. If it were a little too big you could probably dremel out some of the reinforcing fins for the front plate - it wouldn't make much structural difference I think.

Kreuzer 2 Builds 2 points 37 months ago

Nice, I got the same case wrapped in carbon fiber vinyl !

ozi2708 1 Build 1 point 32 months ago

Really nice looking build mate. I am wondering how are your fans performing, I am thinking of the same case with the same fans. How are the fans noise and how did you connect your fans in the system? Thanks in advance.

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captainfez submitter 1 Build 1 point 49 months ago

Thanks! Not yet, but I'm hoping to have it running at home this weekend. I have to figure what to play first - I've YEARS of stuff to go through.

Judging by Logical Increments' page, it'll run Crysis smoothly so everything else will be gravy. In theory it should hit 60 at least for the games in my backlog. I've just got to figure out a decent control system - I'm using a Logitech KR400r but think I'll pair it with a wireless mouse for precision's sake.

Will post some benchmarks when I get around to it, though.

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captainfez submitter 1 Build 1 point 49 months ago

I hadn't built before I made this one. I'd only ever replaced a video card or a hard drive in a bigger case.

Building with this one was pretty easy. The problems are more with ensuring you don't lose screws on dark patterned carpet, etc. It's all pretty standard, and googling helped the things I didn't know (like the need for other connectors to run my rear case fans off molex power, for example.) This case is good because you can pretty much turn it upside down, sideways etc, and it will be fine, so you've more angles of access than with bigger, clunkier cases.