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HTPC - custom build vs Steam machine?


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#1 blizeH

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:58

Hi guys,

 

I've been patiently waiting for the Steam machines to come out so I can put one under the TV to replace my ageing Acer Revo R3610 (I love it, but it struggles with some 720p steams)

 

I'd use it mostly for (in order):

  1. Streaming live sports that aren't shown in my country
  2. Using Netflix, provided the interface is better than my PS3/360
  3. Playing games, or streaming them from my main desktop upstairs

At the moment I'm happy with a PS3 and 360 downstairs as my gaming machine, but if it works nicely then PC could become my platform of choice, especially since there are so many awesome mods out there, and games in general are far cheaper.

 

Any thoughts on what kind of machine I should go for please? :) Or should I attempt to build one myself?




#2 goodbytes

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 16:25

Build your own.. i had a similar setup as you but ditched both htpc and console for a gaming pc that could do both.

 

If the steam machines are upgradable easily, then they may be a good shout, i decided not to wait so went looking for the smallest reasonably priced case i could find that could fit a full size GPU.. The unit is quite big but still great size to be stuffed in a TV unit. It looks nice and way out performs both my console and htpc in every way possible and when it starts to show it's age i can easily upgrade it.

 

Silverstone have a wide range of htpc cases i went with the Silverstone Grandia GD06 (http://www.silversto...pid=293&area=en) It's not quite as small or will look as nice as the steam machines but still couldn't be happier with it.



#3 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 16:31

Definitely build your own.  You'll save a lot of money that way and you can customize it with everything you want and in your exact price range.

 

Silverstone makes really nice HTPC cases, as mentioned above.

 

Another option are the ITX cases that Cooler Master makes.  I did a build recently with the Elite 120 case, and it's nice and small.

Not to mention it's super cheap:

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119261

 

Of if you want one that will natively fit a closed loop water cooler:

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119286



#4 +snaphat (Myles Landwehr)

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 23:24

I'd wait and check out the spec details and mimick those somewhat. That way you guarantee compatibility with Steam OS better.



#5 OP blizeH

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:21

Thanks all, I think with the new Steam Machines coming out soon (surprisingly the Alienware one probably being the pick of the bunch, but no solid price announced yet) it could be worth waiting and seeing how it compares to a custom build... but it's nice to have options and both the Coolermaster and Silverstone Mini ITX cases look great, thank you!



#6 HawkMan

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 17:17

What software are you planning to use for the HTPC part, because some of the best HTPC software just isn't available on linux(and thus SteamOS), so that might be something to consider. 

 

and if you plan to control it with a remote and use netflix and such. then you'll want to use an app rather than the WebUI, which again leaves out linux(in general, with some wonky workarounds)

 

So Basically Custom built. a HTPC is also something you don't need to upgrade often, but it's nice when it starts to get into the years to be able to upgrade. and with a custom build you can. both to replace noisy fans as well as flip in all new innards. 



#7 goodbytes

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 19:36

Windows 8.1 is pretty awesome for HTPC, it's one scenario where the metro interface really shines.



#8 D. S.

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 19:39

Hi guys,

 

I've been patiently waiting for the Steam machines to come out so I can put one under the TV to replace my ageing Acer Revo R3610 (I love it, but it struggles with some 720p steams)

 

I'd use it mostly for (in order):

  1. Streaming live sports that aren't shown in my country
  2. Using Netflix, provided the interface is better than my PS3/360
  3. Playing games, or streaming them from my main desktop upstairs

At the moment I'm happy with a PS3 and 360 downstairs as my gaming machine, but if it works nicely then PC could become my platform of choice, especially since there are so many awesome mods out there, and games in general are far cheaper.

 

Any thoughts on what kind of machine I should go for please? :) Or should I attempt to build one myself?

 

Are you comfortable enough with the hardware and the small form factor to build your own machine?



#9 +Bryan R.

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 19:59

For a custom HTPC, I am using this ITX case. I highly recommend it. So quiet and small, it's just perfect for an HTPC. You can see the specs I jammed into it below.



#10 Aergan

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 20:11

Build your own.. i had a similar setup as you but ditched both htpc and console for a gaming pc that could do both.

 

If the steam machines are upgradable easily, then they may be a good shout, i decided not to wait so went looking for the smallest reasonably priced case i could find that could fit a full size GPU.. The unit is quite big but still great size to be stuffed in a TV unit. It looks nice and way out performs both my console and htpc in every way possible and when it starts to show it's age i can easily upgrade it.

 

Silverstone have a wide range of htpc cases i went with the Silverstone Grandia GD06 (http://www.silversto...pid=293&area=en) It's not quite as small or will look as nice as the steam machines but still couldn't be happier with it.

 

 

I have a Silverstone GD06, it's exceptionally good for HTPC / Steam Big Picture Mode, RetroArch, Server. Same size as your average Yamaha or Sony AV receiver.

Phenom X4, Nvidia GTX 650, 8GB RAM, 10.1TB storage. 



#11 Earthworm Jimmy

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 20:49

I would wait for steam machines to start selling!    then set your price range and pick one that matches.  

 

then see if you can make something as attractive AND/OR functional cheaper.   then decide which one to get, steam or make one yourself



#12 OP blizeH

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 11:35

Thanks all, the HTPC would not be used for recording or watching live TV - we already have a Sky box which we never use

 

I imagine Windows 8.1 Metro would be ace if you can use a remote with it? I'm guessing there are also Windows 8 Netflix, iPlayer apps etc would be compatible... certainly gives some pause for thought when considering the OS.

 

I've built many machines in the past, but not a Mini ITX so it would be a fairly steep learning curve I think, with regards to which parts to pick if nothing else. I think as people have said, I should wait and see what the Steam machines are like before rushing into anything, but a custom build 8.1 is tempting!



#13 goodbytes

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 11:45

Yes and thats the beauty of it, the metro start screen is bright, colourful and can hold big icons for all of your favourite apps, it makes clicking from your couch a breeze.. I use an app from my iPhone called Hippo Remote it's highly customisable and can setup profiles for each app to make navigating them easy.

 

Other cool stuff is things like weather and news on the start screen if it's just idle.

 

Throw Plex on this thing and you've probably got the best setup you can get.