Why we buy it all…?

Some time ago I realised that I didn`t play any modern PC games for years.

So this is a small summary of an old gamer getting “back in saddle” again…. with the power of Raspberry Pi and Game streaming technologies.

Preamble

For many years I`ve been building, upgrading, fixing computers and stuff.. But since 2011 – changed the country, profession, occupation, daughter was born…. no time for hobby gaming.

So easy to understand – not being involved in the world of PC hardware – after couple years it was all “brave new world” for me now. Good enough – pulling PC hardware together is a skill that is very difficult to loose- so natural move- I decided to buy components and build a custom box, not a pre-built one.

Approaching this task I had some prerequisites in my had, that the final setup should comply with:

1 budget: 300 EUR max.

2 size: NOT a full-scale tower. it should be mini ITX setup

3 noise: as low as possible as the box will be staying not far from the sleeping daughter.

4 able to stream the gaming screen to both TV via Nvidia GameStreaming (Raspberry Pi with Openelec on top as clients)

First and foremost – I started searching for a cheap, yet functional PC case. Small enough not to stick out in the living room, functional enough to fit multiple HDDs\SSDs and full size GPUs. This was quite a bit of a challenge as most of the cases I’ve stumbled upon were either too big, or too utilitaristic (e.g. Fractal Design), or had too much hole in them and looked more like a mesh then like a case that can fit to in a human room. And almost all that I found were exceeding the budget. So I almost decided to go with one of the Chines uses from GearBest, but suddenly found a nice offer for a used one RaidMax Atomic:

RaidMax Atomic case

This is a sweet, solid build box with nice observation windows on both sides and black brushed finish. Looks more like a HiFi component, rather than a PC case. It is also not very long\deep as the PSU is installed at the front part of the case. Compared to the mentioned Fractal Design Node 304- tiny little box. (honestly I don’t understand who in the world is actually paying money for those dull boxes that look more like a fridge from 90-s).

Budget

Utilising the powers of ebay.kleinanzeigen.de I kept on searching for the rest of the components.

In the end – I managed to purchase the following setup:

MB: H110I PRO – new from ComputerUniverse – 75 EUR

RAM: 8GB RipJaws g.skill – used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 40 EUR

COLLER: Terra (possibly rebranded Masscool 8WA743) used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 5 EUR

CPU: Pentium G4400 3.3 GHz used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 50 EUR

PSU: noname 550W used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 10 EUR

HDD: pre-owned Toshiba 160GB – 0 EUR

GPU: MSI GTX650 1Gb used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 35 EUR

CASE: RaidMax Atomic used from ebay.kleinanzeigen.de – 30 EUR

 

TOTAL: 245 EUR

So we see- the first 3 targets were reached satisfactory. We got a setup with possibility to perform Nvidia game streaming (min. documented requirement- GTX 650)

Gaming time!

Now it was time to check streaming.

At home we got 2 TVs that are both sourced exclusively by Raspberry PIs. We don`t watch TV and all content that is played on those 2 screens – is provided through those Raspberry PIs. Plus PI is also controlling my custom built Ambilight and it was quite cool to get not only the game on a big screen but also the ambilight working as well.

Well…. I have to admin – streaming was just perfect. Keeping in mind that the ethernet connection speed of raspberry is limited to just 100Mbps- is still can not recall any problem. In the last several weeks my total gaming time is slightly below 100 hours. and during all that time – no problems. No lags, no artefacts, its just working without any need to adjust my perception to the fact that this is not a native computer but a remote client.

In a word- I would advise anyone to drive such an experiment…. especially considering the fact that the VALVE native solution for Steam streaming is priced about 50 USD, Nvidia shield solution costs something about the same, and this Raspberry based home-brewed solution you can try for less then 30 USD (if you utilise Raspi 1) or even less then 10 USD (if you go for a Raspberry Zero)

Installation and setup

To set up the whole thing – its just a charm. Will take about 1 day for a complete amateur, and max 30 minutes for an advanced user.

In a nutshell- this is easy as 1-2-3:

1 Download and install Openelec Image for raspberry. (complete installation insructions are located on the official wiki- HERE

2 With Openelec installed- add a Moonlight stream plugin. This is the most surer-friendly way to start a streaming client for Raspberry. No messing around with Command line magic. (works for Raspberry Pi2 as well as for the first version – “I guarantee it!”)

3 Start Moonlight plugin and pair it with your Gaming PC (PC should be equipped with Nvidia GTX 650 and above and the latter version of Geforce Experience software)

VOILA!

After successful pairing you should be able to see the list of your games.

For some strange reason I don`t always see the recent installed gems directly- so I prefer to always start Steam client and then browse my gaming library from there. Naturally I can download and install, purchase new games, delete old ones, watch trailer clips and so on. anything that is available locally in big picture mode- can also be done via steam client.

When I want to stop streaming and get back to the Openelec multimedia interface- I simply choose “Stop streaming” option from steam shutdown menu and several seconds later find myself back to the Classical code interface of Openelec.

For those of you who are tired from reading- here is a working demo of my setup in motion:

 

For those who are curious to give it a try- couple links to the resources:

Purchase Raspberry Pi

Buy Nvidia GTX Graphix card (should be GTX series 600 and above)

Have fun, and enjoy!

Don`t hesitate to ask your questions and share positive experiences in the comments…

And don`t forget to share … in general )

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