Category Archives: Self-Build Steam Box

It’s All AMD’s Fault

Today I took a shot at installing the current “Brewmaster” pre-release version of SteamOS. I knew I was asking a lot here as soon as I checked the current known issues. Turns out AMD graphics card cause a major error message to appear after the first reboot, although the installation procedure does still continue. It neglected to say that you’d be trying to proceed with an invisible mouse cursor. Still, 20 minutes of playing Blind Man’s Buff with the network config options and the installation was back on track.

And then it was immediately and fatally derailed.

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Linux + AMD Graphics = ???

It’s been quiet around here. Too quiet. No news, no articles, nothing about this budget gaming rig. Well did you expect? I’ve just built an experimental new gaming rig – I’ve been playing with it!

To be honest, my experiences so far had been badly marred by the AMD graphics drivers I’ve been using under Linux Mint. The big problem has been V-sync failing to work. Enabling the setting in any video game was just ignored, resulting in tearing in every game I tried to play. Even forcing this setting in the Catalyst Control Centre didn’t get it working. The only way I found to avoid the problem was to enable desktop anti-tearing, which fixed the tearing but instead left me with just enough input lag to make games unplayable in a whole new, nausea-inducing way. Well… no longer!

Continue reading Linux + AMD Graphics = ???

Windows-To-Go Just Goes

As part of my initial testing regime, I thought it worth giving Windows performance a crack at this setup – all the good performance measurements are Windows based and measuring AMD performance under Linux is like asking how long a piece of string is. Not wanting to wipe my Mint installation or mess around installing an internal hard drive, I thought I’d take a shot at running a live Windows installation of a USB3 hard drive. Yet again, I have found myself undeniably impressed by an OS.

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Updated: Final Spec v3 + Optional Sports Package

EDIT: See far below for parts ordered and status.

The final spec of the Steam Machine project is firming up nicely. The core parts list is pretty much frozen now, giving console gaming performance for console prices, as long as you’re happy to run Linux. Yeah, I’m sure there will be plenty of posts regarding that little caveat following the actual build itself, but I digress.

And yes, I’m fully aware that Final Spec v3 is a contradiction in terms. Sue me.

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A Tweak Here, A Tweak There

The previous spec I posted relied on a single-slot GTX 750 fitting into the expansion slots available on the el-cheapo case I’d selected. It doesn’t look like that card is going to be back in stock any time soon. My contingency for that eventuality was to switch cases and PSUs and go with a two-slot graphics card instead, pushing the price up to £331. Turns out, for £339, I can manage that with a GTX 750ti. That’s an acceptable price, it’s still cheaper than a PS4, but what would the spec look like if I just found another single-slot graphics card instead?

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Sleight Of Hand

My console-priced mITX PC build spec is pretty much done, and my plans for assessing it’s performance are now being formed. However, I’m loathe to spend £330ish on something purely for the sake of building to a price point. Proving that it’s possible to build a small, quiet PC that performs like a console for the same money is one thing, but I’m still building a PC here – I have my own standards to live up to as well, but no matter – I have a cunning plan!

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It’s All Lies! They’re Not Even Square! (Updated)

So, I was screwing around with the Ghetto spec. I wondered just how cheap I could really push it. I dropped the CPU down to a G3220. I dropped the RAM down to a single 4GB stick of 1600MHz stuff. The motherboard ended up with an H81 chipset. The HSF is gone, we’re relying on the stock cooler.

Oh, and a single-slot 2GB GTX 750 has been shoehorned into the spec without breaking the budget.

Continue reading It’s All Lies! They’re Not Even Square! (Updated)