I have been doing some testing with Nvidia's newly launched GeForce Now streaming service at home and I've come away extremely impressed. So much so that I am going to let go of my dreams to build a full-blown mini PC for my living room and see if I can build a cheap and cheerful streaming PC instead. Ideally, this PC would be dirt cheap to build now and would allow me to fully utilise the GeForce Now service while also being able to run some simple games natively. The reason I'm not going completely bargain bin cheap with this build is because I want to leave some upgrade paths to pursue later, should I feel like it.
For those who don't know, GeForce Now by Nvidia is a streaming service akin to Google Stadia and Microsoft's Project xCloud that allows users to stream their own game library to a PC, TV or Android device in 1080p60. Use of the service is free for 1 hour at a time, or about €5,- a month if you want full, unrestricted access without login queues. Paying for the service also gives you access to ray tracing-enabled graphics cards, whereas the free version does not. Both tiers are otherwise identical in terms of tech specs.
I've been playing some games on my laptop through this service over 5Ghz WiFi in my living room and the experience was beyond my expectations. Sure, being able to play some Civilization VI like this is great and all, but I played some faster paced Path of Exile as well and found the service to be perfectly suitable. I now want to build myself a little HTPC that will live under my LG C9 OLED and stream games in 1080p60 to my beautiful display. I know a compressed image blown up to a 55" screen is not going to look perfect, but I will usually be sitting about 3 meters from the screen so it shouldn't be too obvious from that distance.
So, what am I looking to build? At first I was going to build around an old AMD Athlon A8-9600 processor I still keep in my drawer, but I quickly realised that no modern B450 or X470 motherboard would accept the chip. Because I don't want to build a PC consisting of entirely obsolete hardware, I decided to do away with that idea and build around a Ryzen 3 2200G instead. It's still not cutting edge tech and I don't need it to be, but I will be able to swap in another processor down the line if I feel like it. The 2200G of course is a quad-core CPU with integrated graphics, meaning I won't need a graphics card to output a display signal. GeForce Now basically doesn't require graphical horsepower to run, so this CPU will do just fine.
The build is going to look like this:
PCPartPicker Part List
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 3.5 GHz Quad-Core Processor (€93.95 @ Azerty)
Motherboard: Asus PRIME B450M-A/CSM Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard (€135.60 @ Newegg Netherlands)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2666 Memory (€75.95 @ CD-ROM-LAND)
Storage: Gigabyte 256 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L MicroATX Mini Tower Case (€44.95 @ Megekko)
Power Supply: be quiet! System Power 9 400 W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply (€49.45 @ Azerty)
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-02-22 08:26 CET+0100
Please be aware that the pricing of these parts is nonsense. I am getting the 2200G used for about €65, which is a fair amount cheaper than the €90 it currently retails for. Cooling will be taken care of by a spare Wraith Prism cooler I have in storage. The Asus PRIME B450M-A is a cheap, no-frills motherboard with plenty of fan headers and 4 memory slots that goes for about €65 as well. Memory is just plain Corsair Vengeance DDR4, a decent middle ground between price and performance. It might even overclock a little. The Ryzen 3 2200G won't take memory faster than 2933Mhz so going all out here makes no sense to me. I went with a small NVMe drive for fast boot times and the Gigabyte model was the cheapest drive I trust. The CM Masterbox Q300L is a terrible case but it's cheap, it looks alright and is small enough to live inside my TV cabinet. Airflow won't be an issue because the PC will barely generate any heat to begin with. Lastly, a simple be quiet! power supply rounds out the build. It's cheap, it works and it's semi-modular. Perfect for my needs at this price point.
Total cost of the system: around €340 with the used processor and shipping.
Potentials upgrade paths would be slotting in a faster processor, adding a graphics card like the GTX 1650 Super or GTX 1660 Super, expanding or replacing the RAM, adding more fans or a non-standard CPU cooler etc. Lots of opportunities to improve on this system in the future, which is a big part of why I went B450. The motherboard isn't going to allow for any high-end overclocking, but if you just want to run your system without meddling with it too much it will work perfectly well.
So tell me, what do you think? Would you do anything differently or do you have any tips to share?