In the age of the absurdly expensive computers, thin laptops that bends if you type too hard, and soldered RAMs, building an entry level Linux Gaming HTPC for about $600, seems like the stupidest idea ever.
Or maybe it isn’t.
I decided to build an entry level HTPC running Linux for many reasons, but the more obvious are the following:
- I’m a casual gamer, I don’t need to play the latest and greatest titles at maximum quality.
- I’m a nerd who loves Linux and codes with Vala and Gtk.
- I wanted a small form factor PC that can easily fit in my TV set and look like a console.
Keeping the Price Low
In order to keep the price down, I had to compromise a bit, but not too much.
First, I decided to not use a GPU, since the new Intel Processors come with Integrated Graphics capable of 1080p at 60fps, for me, a casual gamer, was enough to start.
Since I was going to be using the HTPC also as a media device to watch movies or stream content, I wanted to keep it as quiet as possible. This necessity helped me to pick the i3 processor since it doesn’t get as warm as the higher performance brothers, I was able to save a lot on the CPU cooler by picking a slim and almost silent Noctua.
In terms of memory, 8GB is plenty considering I won’t be using it in multitasking at all, and 275GB of SSD was enough to store the OS and games I’m planning to install simultaneously.
The Parts List
There you have it! Now, let’s jump straight to the juicy part, the full parts list.
Case: Fractal Design Node 202
Motherboard: Gigabyte H270N-WiFi
CPU: Intel i3 7100
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i
SSD: Crucial MX300 275GB
The total for all these brand new hardware comes down around $635 USD, at the time of the writing of this post.
I’ve been using intensively my Custom HTPC for the past 6 months, running System76 Pop!_OS Linux Operating System, and I didn’t have a single problem.
I love playing a lot of 2D platforms and Indie games, but nonetheless, this Custom HTPC is capable of playing titles like Middle Heart: Shadow of Mordor at 1080p, holding an average of 40fps. No visual glitches or slowdowns also while playing Stellaris, Civilization VI, Bioshock Infinite, or The Witcher.
Being an entry-level built, gave me the ability to start playing games without waiting too long to put aside enough money for a high-end configuration, and being a custom PC build, I’m always able to upgrade some parts or buy a GPU whenever I have the possibility.
If you wanna know more about the different parts and see my amazingly awful building skills, check out this video:
Happy Gaming on your new Linux HTPC!