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I am looking to build a Steam OS box, I would like to run 'light' native Steam OS games and stream the rest from my powerful windows box.

What are my options for a motherboard that fits the requirements listed and (with a case/CPU/RAM) is close to 400 USD?


Valve Min Requirements (ref)

  • Processor
    • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • Hard Drive
    • {Support for} 500GB or larger disk
  • Video Card
    • Intel, NVIDIA, or AMD (RADEON 8500 and later if AMD)
  • Additional
    • UEFI boot support, USB port for installation

My Requirements

  • Quiet
    • Above everything else this box must be whisper quiet. The Box is better if smaller but does not need to be tiny. For the Mobo it's CPU should be able to support a custom cooler that is quiet.
  • Built in Wifi AC and Gigabit NIC
    • I would like to use my existing wi-fi ac for now (even though it works poorly) and later cabled ethernet when I get the time to do reno's. I plan to stream 4k if possible from my windows box.
  • Built in HDMI 2.0
    • As mentioned before I would like to have a 4k TV and even if the steam can not handle fast refresh rate I would like my box to be able to provide the capability. (Display port would also be nice.)
  • Built in USB 3+
    • Having 5+ USB ports (/w 1+ as USB 3) would be helpful
  • Built in Blue Tooth
    • Helpful as I can see a lot of input devices using BT in the future.
  • Built in Surround Sound
    • Surround sound capability, 7.1 with 3.5mm jacks on the mobo preferred.
  • Ability to upgrade
    • SSD M.2 upgradability would be nice
    • The ability to swap in a decent sized PCIe video card.
    • The ability to have 16 gigs of RAM

Additional Information

From what I could find Valve does not have a compatible hardware list but because Steam OS is built on Debian I would rather use hardware that has a good track record of working on Debian if possible. On the flip side I would like to use newer lower power (14nm) hardware if possible as I intend to leave the box running. If all fails I may opt for the Steam Link and later go for a Steam OS box.

UPDATE: I prefer to build the system and install Steam OS myself. I have modified this question to refer to only the motherboard, once that is chosen I will add a question for what case/CPU/RAM works best with it because they are quite dependent on the motherboard selection.

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  • This is a very broad question. I assume the end goal is to play games. If that's the only goal, is there a reason to go with SteamOS over Windows? Windows still has a much larger library of games available through Steam (and it's Big Picture mode) versus the Linux based SteamOS. – Andy Oct 30 '15 at 16:58
  • Hmm if I ask for a mobo, case, and CPU/RAM only would that narrow the scope? I am looking for 400$ combined price so breaking it apart would limit the ability to provide a whole solution. Also if I ask just for a CPU and then for a mobo it would not be including the restriction that they must work together. – Gram Oct 30 '15 at 18:24
  • @Andy thank you for the suggestion, I do have an existing Windows box, however windows is no free and generally requires more horsepower. Not to mention my windows box is fairly noisy and I like its current location (not near my TV). I would like to use it where it is and also have the option of paying more TV-friendly games on/though my steam OS box. – Gram Oct 30 '15 at 18:31
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I'm gonna go with the following recommendation list, including the mobo, to show you how I imagine it fitting into a situation like the one you're seeing:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/8nn4Cy Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/list/8nn4Cy/by_merchant/

  • CPU: AMD A10-7890K 4.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($148.99 @ Amazon)
  • Motherboard: ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($99.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Memory: PNY Anarchy 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2400 Memory ($34.99 @ Amazon)
  • Case: Silverstone GD09B HTPC Case ($72.99 @ SuperBiiz)
  • Wireless Network Adapter: Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I PCI-Express x1 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Adapter ($29.99 @ SuperBiiz)

Total: $386.95 Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-07-01 16:22 EDT-0400

Basically the takeaways here are:

  • APU comes with decent GPU w/ VCE decoder for streaming, no need to spend on separate dGPU.
  • mobo features DisplayPort
  • addon BT+AC capability
  • 7.1ch sound
  • APU comes with quiet cooler stock
  • Case is quiet and livingroom-oriented
  • 16gb RAM is a possibility with upgrades
  • fullsize dGPU can later be added
  • USB requirements met
  • Storage requirements met
  • Cost requirements met
  • UEFI support requirements met

Basically the only downside as I see it is unfortunate AMD driver support in linux (SteamOS), but as a dGPU can be added later this is not a showstopper the way I see it.

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  • Thank you for the response, I also think DP is the way to go. Your answer satisfy my requirements in detail. (Also thank you for introducing me to pcpartpicker that's a handy tool). Very helpful! – Gram Jul 1 '16 at 23:46
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I would say to get a Intel Pentium G3258 and a Mini ITX motherboard with the LGA 1150 socket. 8GB of the cheapest DDR3 RAM would work.

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  • 4
    Welcome to Hardware Recommendations. Please take a look at our guidelines for high quality answers. This answer seems to be lacking the details needed for a high quality answer. – Andy Nov 11 '15 at 3:02
  • 1
    To clarify on what Andy is saying, could you provide some details as to why you think of that certain CPU and RAM? To be honest, you didn't even specify if he should get an H97/Z97 board... Please be a bit more specific. Thank you. – Rubydesic Nov 13 '15 at 2:19

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