iFixit likes to take apart every new gadget they can lay their hands on, but the beta version of the Steam Machine does create a bit of a dilemma. For one, there’s only 300 units so getting hold of one is problematic. Then there’s the fact Valve has varied the hardware configurations, so a teardown of one will ultimately reveal different components to another.
Still, iFixit did manage to get their hands on a Steam Machine and couldn’t resist taking it apart. You’ll be glad to learn they found a very easy to repair PC just like everyone expected.
Valve has taken off-the-shelf components, inserted them into a Mini-ITX motherboard and small case, and shipped a PC with Steam OS installed. The hardware inside includes the following:
3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4570 (3.6GHz Turbo)
16GB Crucial Ballistic RAM
1TB Seagate 5400RPM hybrid SSD with 64MB cache
Zotac GeForce GTX 780 with 3GB GDDR5
ASRock Mini-ITX motherboard
Zalman CNPS 2X CPU cooler
Silverstone 450W 80 Plus Gold PSU
The power button at the front is illuminated by 12 LEDs, and the outer casing is held on by a single screw, which as you can imagine iFixit was impressed by. They were so impressed, in fact, that they awarded the Steam Machine 9/10 for repairability. The only negatives were the RAM placement making it difficult to remove and lots of cable routing that requires memorizing layouts in order to get the case closed again.
As for the controller, there’s not much to say. The plastic casing comes off easily allowing it to split in two. But what you won’t find inside is a battery. It’s not been talked about much, but the Steam Machine controller is actually a wired device using a USB connection. There is no wireless connectivity to take advantage of.
You can tell this is clearly a beta unit due to the use of standard cables inside the case plus the fact there is room for a second hard drive. On the back there’s also the typical mix of inputs and outputs found on a PC. HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort all feature, as do USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and even a PS/2 connection for older keyboard and mice.
It’s highly unlikely final Steam Machines will have this level of connectivity and as readily accessible components. Manufacturers will want to cut back in order to save on cost wherever possible. We will see Steam Machines with just HDMI out, permanently wired cables inside, and potentially even smaller cases if they refine the design and make it more permanent and less repairable. Hopefully we get a wireless version of the controller, to.