The First Liquid-Cooled Steam Machine

The First Liquid-Cooled Steam Machine

Some Steam Machine makers are attempting to create small form factor gaming machines powered and priced competitively to the latest generation consoles. Starting at $US1899, Digital Storm’s liquid-cooled Bolt II is not one of those.

Digital Storm has proven itself capable of creating affordable gaming machines, but for the most part the company has been focused on innovation more than hitting a particular price point.

The original Bolt was a testament to their design philosophy — a 3.6-inch wide powerhouse of a slim PC. They created a custom cooling solution. They made a powerful Nvidia Titan card run reliably on a 500W power supply. They worked some mad voodoo.

And now they’re at it again with the Bolt II.

They’re calling it the first small form factor/Steam Machine hybrid gaming PC. The designation is a bit of fluff — all a gaming PC needs to be an official Steam Machine is Valve’s approval and a Steam OS partition. It has those, so it gets to use the label.

“We (Digital Storm) are not looking to compete with console pricing,” said Rajeev Kuruppu, Digital Storm’s Director of Product Development. “We’re taking aim at the high end of the market, targeting consumers that demand the best possible gaming experience and who are looking for a PC capable of playing any title on their new 4K display.”

So yeah, it’s a high end, small form factor gaming PC.

Only it’s more impressive than that. For one, Digital Storm’s engineers have compartmentalised the enclosure, eliminating the component accessibility issues common to small form factor machines. The video card, storage drives, optical drives and cooling systems are housed in removable compartments for ease of maintenance and upgrade.

The case has been engineered with optimal cooling in mind, with perforated air vents over the hottest bits. The system also comes fitted with Digital Storm’s proprietary HydroLux control board, which monitors the unit’s temperature in real time, balancing thermals and noise on the fly.

It’s an impressive little box of computer, and it’s not cheap. Here’s a sample Bolt II configuration sent to us by Digital Storm.

  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 4770K
  • System Memory: 16GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • SSD: 120GB Corsair Neutron GTX
  • Storage: 1TB (7200 RPM) (64MB Cache)
  • Cooling: 240mm Radiator Liquid CPU Cooler
  • Motherboard: ASUS H87I-PLUS
  • Power Supply: 500W Digital Storm Bolt II Edition
  • Optical Drive: DVD/CD 8x Multi-Drive
  • Warranty: Life-time Expert Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty
  • Price: $US2584

“We (Digital Storm) are not looking to compete with console pricing,” said Rajeev Kuruppu, Digital Storm’s director of product development. “We’re taking aim at the high end of the market, targeting consumers that demand the best possible gaming experience and who are looking for a PC capable of playing any title on their new 4K display.”

The Digital Storm Bolt II is a high end, small form factor gaming PC. It’s also a Steam Machine, by virtue of Valve’s approval to call it such and a Steam OS partition on the hard drive. Is that all it takes? Pretty much. Here come the Steam Machines.

The Bolt II will go on sale later this month at Digital Storm’s website.


  • Liquid cooling? If it get’s too hot it could be a literal steam machine! eheheh… I’ll show myself to the door.

  • Now if they halved that price it might be worth it, but right now that thing is like an alienware, your paying 100% more for no reason at all.

    Especially when you consider any Aussie version is likely to be 4k+. Does look sexy though, if i was a lotto winner i’d have something this stylish custom made.

  • Depends how silent it is, could definitely see a market for a silent, tiny pc, with a massive GPU. Yeah you can build a cheap computer with similar specs, but can you make it silent?

    • I recently had my gaming rig in my lounge room hooked to my TV. Not once did I hear the fans over the games I was playing and movies I was watching. When at idle its quiet enough not be heard over ambient noise in my house ( fish tank, ceiling fans, fridge etc.). It runs a Cooler Master V6 cpu cooler and HD7970 Ghz edition gpu, neither are known to be quiet.
      So IMO a “silent” PC is not worth the $1000+ premium.

  • I reckon these will come down in price over time. Currently they are the first to market with a high end “Steam Machine”. They can charge what they want and some people will still buy it. As alternatives come out and the fanboi’s are done, we should see the prices start to drop.

  • How do they get away with a 500w PSU? Geforce website says minimum is 600w for 780 Ti. I’m certainly no expert, but I would have thought you’d certainly need to run at least the minimum with the pump for the AOI cooler.

    Also noticed this with the prototypes which were running 780’s. Pretty sure they are also running 500w PSU, where 780 minimum is also 600W.

    • Actual power use is closer to 250W at max load, says so on the Geforce site. The system requirement is inflated to leave excessive headroom, always is. With that kind of a system you’d have to push it to hit 400W at absolute max load.
      I’m running 2 GTX670s but otherwise the same system and barely get over 400W (at the wall) pushing it when overclocked, so if you compensate for power supply inefficiency…

      • I see. I guess I should have done some more research before I forked out for that 750w supply for my 780 :/

        • I’d still recommend getting a 750W. Leaves plenty of headroom and possibility for SLI.
          Besides, power supplies are pretty cheap considering what they do for your system. The only thing to consider, is the efficiency curve, most power supplies are highly inefficient when drawing very little power, like at idle. It’s not a problem, just means you’re paying for more electricity than you’re actually using/needing.

          • Also consider that PSUs decrease in output over time, so if you plan on keeping one beyond 5 years you need to spend more initially.

  • That price only to get a standard processor, 1TB hard drive (no SSD OS), 12GB ram, no Blu-ray drive and a relatively small power supply… How about just getting a console and being relevant for the next eight years anyway? My newly build computer cost me a LOT less than that and that is taking into account a couple of mistake purchases a long the way.

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