Earlier this week I started to work on transforming my old Lenovo Ideapad y510p into a portable Steam Box.  For those of you who don’t know much about this laptop here are the specs straight from Lenovo:

4th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ (2.4GHz 1600MHz 6MB)
Operating System
Windows 8.1 64
  • 15.6″ FHD LED Glossy Wedge (1920×1080)
  • 16:9 widescreen
Dual graphics support1; NVIDIA® SLI – up to NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 750M 2GB dual graphics
8GB PC3-12800 DDR3L SDRAM 1600 MHz
Hard Disk Drive
1TB (5400 RPM) + 8GB Hybrid Drive
JBL® designed speakers supporting Dolby Home Theatre v4 audio certification for immersive sound
Integrated Communications
  • Intel 7260 b/g/n Wireless (2×2 BGN)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1 GB LAN
  • 1x USB 2.0 (one always on)
  • 2x USB 3.0 SuperSpeed
  • 6-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MS, MS-Pro)
  • Headphone
  • Microphone
  • HDMI-out
  • VGA port (15-pin)
HD 720P camera
Up to 5 hrs
5.95 lbs
15.23 x 10.19 x 0.61-1.41″


lenovo-ideapadAlright so there are a few ways to make a Steam Box out of a computer and for repurposing of this computer I decided to try and install the Steam OS (stand alone version).  With a fresh image of the Steam OS on a 4GB USB drive I restarted the computer and entered the bios.  In the bios I made sure that EFI setting were active instead of Legacy.  Once all bios settings were saved and the computer booted to the USB drive the installation gives you a few options to install. For my first attempt I chose the easy way by selecting the “Automated install”.  

When I selected this option my screen split into three mirrored displays.  This made it very hard to see what was going on but the installation did complete.  When the install was complete the computer restarted and…nothing.  The machine started up to a black screen with no sound or mouse pointer.  Thinking that there may have been an error during the install I booted the computer from the USB again and instead of the automated install I chose the “Advance Install”.  I don’t know what was so advance about this type of install?  The installer only asked two questions.  On a side note after clicking the advance install the display didn’t mirror three display.  This time I could see all the shell and all the descriptions during the install.  Again the computer rebooted and the same black screen showed up. Suffice it to say that following Steam’s instructions on installing the OS wasn’t working.  My thought is that it has something to do with the dual graphics cards that are in the Lenovo Ideapad y510p.  In the end I reinstalled Windows 8 and the Steam client and followed neuroboy’s instructions on booting Windows to Steam Big Screen mode:

  ======================== Part 1: Set Steam startup options ======================== This is the easy bit. 1. Open up Steam in normal windowed mode and select Settings from the top menu 2. Click the Interface tab 3. Select both checkboxes for ‘Run Steam when my computer starts’ and ‘Start Steam in Big Picture Mode’ – maybe one day Valve will get these to work properly together so you don’t have to follow the rest of this nonsense! 4. Click OK and exit Steam ============================================== Part 2. Making Registry Edits so that Steam runs as your shell ============================================== This is the trickier bit and involves some commitment to Steam on your part, though is easily reversible – it will make Steam run instead of your normal Windows Desktop after Windows has booted and you’ve logged in. 1. Bring up the Windows ‘Run’ dialogue box, either from the Start Menu or by pressing your Windows key and R at the same time. 2. Type ‘regedit’ and click OK. 3. Navigate to [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionWinlogon] 4. Right click in the folder pane to the right and select ‘New > String Value’ 5. Name it ‘Shell.’ 5. Right click on ‘Shell’ and select ‘Modify.’ 6. Type in the path to Steam.exe and click OK. By default on a 64 bit system the full path will be “C:Program Files (x86)SteamSteam.exe” – personally I just have Steam installed at root – “C:Steam” 🙂 ========================================================== Part 3 (optional): Setup your PC to automatically login to your Windows account ========================================================== If you are not a complete security nut and only have one account on your PC, you can set it up to automatically login, so you don’t have to select a user and/or type a password. Instructions for this varies according to your Windows version. See here for full information: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/tipstricks/f/auto-login-windows.htm NOW REBOOT YOUR PC AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS YOU DID IT ALL OKAY! Whilst waiting for your PC to boot up, grab your Xbox 360 Controller and turn it on ready to navigate that lovely Steam Big Picture Mode. ============== Troubleshooting etc ============== If you get only a black screen with a cursor instead, or your gamepad doesn’t work, or whatever, press control+alt+delete and select ‘Task Manager.’ Go to File>New Task (Run) and type “explorer.exe” – this should bring back your regular desktop until you log in again. You can also use this method to access Windows if you want to do anything else. Go back and check that you made all the registry edits exactly right. To remove the Steam bootingness, just delete the ‘Shell’ entry you added.

  There you have it.  I wish i would been able to get the Steam OS to run on its own so I could play around with it, but this functions exactly the same.