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iFixit Steam Machine Teardown

Posted Dec. 19, 2013 by philip

iFixit Steam Machine Teardown
(Image courtesy iFixit)

iFixit recently disassembled a Steam Machine beta kit and analyzed the contents - here's what they found! Their analysis led to this part list if you wanted to try and reproduce it yourself.

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deathfromup [3 Builds] 18 points 4 months ago

One of my Facebook friends got one of these. I am beyond jealous. If i got one I would prolly swap out the 780 and put it in my PC, then put my 770 in the steambox hehehe.

Also its pretty cool that a ton of tech news sites are gonna be linking to PCPartpicker. Yay for philip.

[comment deleted by staff]
 
 
LeMonarque [2 Builds] 8 points 4 months ago

Call me crazy, but I think it's really odd that there aren't more SFF cases out there that are designed to fit expansion cards 90-degrees. It just makes sense. You save so much space.

I suppose it has something to do with market availability of PCI-e risers, but I think whatever company markets those WITH specially designed cases first is going to make a pretty penny. Maybe Steam Machines will lead to that. Hopefully.

 
 
TheLastBoss78 [1 Build] -2 points 3 months ago

Seriously, I hope so. I've toyed with the idea of making a tiny living room gaming machine but I feel like current mini-itx cases are too bulky. Even the beloved node 304 is the size of a large toaster and wouldn't work with my shelving situation.

 
 
LeMonarque [2 Builds] 6 points 3 months ago

The ASRock M8 and Silverstone Raven RVZ01 are two cases designed with risers in mind that came up in just the past few months, so the future looks pretty bright! The RVZ01 seems infinitely better than the M8 in my opinion.

RVZ01

M8

Both of those videos were posted after I made my comment, and when I saw them I cried of joy. Although the M8 has been out for a while now.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 6 points 4 months ago

Another question - if the PSU is modular and off the shelf, presumably they won't be using all the cables that it came with in the build. Have people who received the unit also got these additional cables? I'm interested because I think it will point to how upgradable they really mean the system to be.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 3 points 4 months ago

I attempted to do this a little while back; here's the (incorrect) list I came up with: http://pcpartpicker.com/forums/topic/16940-lets-recreate-the-reference-steam-machine.

What's interesting is that some of the information in my build is correct per the engadget article, but incorrect according to this build. So:

  1. Did I misunderstand the engadget article?
  2. Are prototype Steam Machines being shipped with different hardware?
  3. Are Engadget reporters in the wrong here?

PS - also props out to mousseng in my thread for correctly figuring out the CPU, RAM amount, storage device, and motherboard!

 
 
MLPortal 4 points 4 months ago

Your second guess is correct. The beta Steam machines/boxes shipped with a range of different hardware, from 660s to titans, and i3s to i7 4770s I can't get to the original page, but this article lists them out.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

thx

 
 
Cale [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

Close: The boxes sent to journalists had Titans, so far every Beta Box of the 300 sent to real people have 780s.

(Source: I'm in the beta and we have a forum where we have been collecting this info)

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

Who said anything about titans?

 
 
Cale [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

The Engadget system had a Titan I'm pretty sure.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 1 point 4 months ago

Weird. From the article I was referencing: "The machine above was somewhere in between, with an Intel i7 CPU and a GTX 780 GPU housed in its snug chassis."

 
 
Cale [1 Build] 1 point 3 months ago

Yea that article had everyone looking at their specs when they arrived, but it looks like Valve changed their minds and sent everyone the same system.

 
 
SilkyZ 3 points 4 months ago

My question is how did they put the GTX card in sideways?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [5 Builds] 4 points 4 months ago

They used a riser card.

 
 
SilkyZ 2 points 4 months ago

Ohh, that makes sence. cool

 
 
Ne0nguy [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

The case in the part list will not support the size of that graphics card. I've been looking all over for a case similar to the ones being used for the steambox but there doesn't seem to be anything available that will allow the graphics card to be on its side like the steam machines case.

 
 
green47 3 points 4 months ago

Haha, yeah it was post-midnight after the teardown when I made up the parts list, to be honest I just picked a case that was roughly the same size and shape. The Steam Machine has a totally custom case, with some pretty intense cowlings for ducting and cable management, plus a custom PCB behind the big illuminated power switch.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 0 points 4 months ago

They're using a silverstone 90 degree riser card to get the video card oriented like that.

 
 
Biernot [2 Builds] 2 points 4 months ago

Still would not work with that case, as the slots are aligned vertically. The case is most likely custom made for Valve.

 
 
Eschaton [1 Build] 2 points 4 months ago

Well, I thought it was pretty clear that the case they included isn't an EXACT match of the one on the steam machine; the massive button on the front and the case cover should be evidence enough of that.

That being said, I think you could mod this case to maybe fit that card in there: you get a PCI-E ribbon instead of the riser card, fashion some mounting points for the card in the spot where the PSU should go, and have its I/O fit through that port. Then put the PSU up adjacent to the board with an internal cable running under the GPU out to a custom made panel sitting below the GPU.

OR, granted, you could just buy a cheap mATX case and admit that you're building a computer ^_^

 
 
toocan 1 point 4 months ago

The riser is compatible with a SilverStone LC11BM-300 which comes with a remote - nice alternative to the steambox case

 
 
iThoughtSheWas16 2 points 4 months ago

ALL HAIL GabeN

 
 
skemble [10 Builds] 1 point 4 months ago

Interesting Z87 choice on mITX with a 4570 and 16Gb RAM.

 
 
deathfromup [3 Builds] 1 point 4 months ago

yeah i dunno why they would send it with 16Gb or RAM, maybe anticipating people using VM to dual boot windows? even then i dunno why they would promote that.

 
 
Jack_Burton 1 point 4 months ago

they probably just have to plan for any type of setup.

 
 
Matryoshka [2 Builds] 1 point 4 months ago

Because they know that Steam OS is only for the living room, it isn't a competition here.

 
 
bendanby 1 point 4 months ago

That's pretty cool. Can imagine some people do some wierd stuff with the steam setup!

 
 
iTheGM 1 point 4 months ago

So are we guessing a premium for the pre-fab steam machine or a discount? Will these $1300 worth of parts be $1000 to incentivize or $1500 because of the proprietary enclosure and assembly labor costs? Questions, questions...

 
 
jdwash11 [1 Build] 1 point 4 months ago

That is pretty sweet!

I hope this starts a trend of small form factor PC's going forward

 
 
aighamdi [2 Builds] 1 point 4 months ago

I believe the parts used in this specific build are overkill for the target market requirements (living room / console gamers). I did my best to minimize the the cost of the parts.

  • I removed 1 8gm ram module because this build will most liekly require no more than that but kept the same type to make room for adding the first one back as a future upgrade (so much for dual channel).
  • I replaced the 780 because such monsterous GPU is made for multi monitor or 1440p setups at minimum - a 760 IS the card to go for at 1080p level.
  • I replaced the i5 with i3 since it wouldn't bottleneck the 760 and actually on single threaded performance it might slightly outperform the i5 since it's 200 MHz faster. maybe it has a multi-core disadvantage but it still can manage with hyper threading.
  • Since I selected a locked CPU (plus this tight case does not seem to allow significant overclocking), I replaced the Z87 with an H81. Although this would mean we will need to add a $20-ish investment to make up for a bluetooth and wifi adapter.

This reduced the price by about $520 ($500 if we buy the adapters). if Valve is going to get a corporate/wholesale price tags from the supplier I expect them to sell their Machines at lower prices. But there's still the cost of the included controller to consider.

 
 
xymostech 1 point 3 months ago

I think valve said somewhere that they're going to go a bit crazy with their beta devices, because they're not trying to produce actual consoles that people will buy later, just something that people can test and tweak the OS and mess around with the controllers. I'd bet that once things stabilize and they start making actual consoles, the specs will come down to something more like what you have.

 
 
jimmythesnake [1 Build] 1 point 4 months ago

Hey I built this like 8 months ago with a Titan. Mine has a monitor/keyboard/display/speakers built into it too =D http://pcpartpicker.com/user/jimmythesnake/builds/ Where's my royalties Valve! haha

 
 
jgadian 1 point 3 months ago

How is the video card fitting in there? Was the motherboard modified?

Never mind, a riser card is used.

 
 
Erik 1 point 3 months ago

What about the case's PCI expansion slots; are there no issues with accessing the GPU's outputs with it rotated like this? Is there a large gap allowing dust to enter the case?

If there's a build video on this I'd be greatly interested in watching it.

 
 
01geekyguy 1 point 3 months ago

These Steam Machines look really cool. The cases are sleek(especially the alienware ones)and they have good specs. I think having one of these would be a fun experience.

 
 
Loveandpower 1 point 3 months ago

with that graphic card being in it makes you wonder how much the console is going to sell for

 
 
sheighton [1 Build] 1 point 3 months ago

You should change out the case for the Silverstone ML07 or the RVZ01B when they release...as is, this video card will not fit inside the selected case...also, when are we going to see support for the AMD A10-7850K (and other new Kaveri APU's) on this site? I already ordered one for my Steam Machine earlier this week...

 
 
crackerjeffbox 1 point 2 months ago

The parts list compiled is a bit off. The riser card is wrong, its actually an RC02 and not a RC01, the case takes up quite a bit of space as well compared to the steam box which fits snugly together, it's not the same case without some heavy modding (and probably ruining) the case.

 
 
Warqer 1 point 2 months ago

You guys should add Fry's to the merchant list.

 
 
tmh2duggy 1 point 2 months ago

I think I might go for the titan on the steam machine cause I want to take it and put my 780ti in while the titan is in my pc

 
 
Bed_Time_Paradox 1 point 1 month ago

Boone

 
 
Hellvaguy [1 Build] 1 point 1 month ago

I just dont get the whole obsessive need to cram everything into a tiny box and give it subpar cooling. I mean it sits under your desk or 55" tv.

 
 
TelFiRE [1 Build] -2 points 4 months ago

It's basically my computer but with poorer cooling and a wimpier CPU (understandable). It's cool and all, but I'm not really sure how they will be able to make these price-competitive. But if they tone down the hardware as I suspect they probably will for the non-dev machines, they're going to have a box that can only hit its FPS target on newer games at 720p.

 
 
Robotdude [1 Build] 2 points 3 months ago

Yeah, dont you hate it when your 780 only handles 720p? Yeah me neither. Look closer at the hardware inside.

 
 
TelFiRE [1 Build] -2 points 3 months ago

Wtf... Did you reply to the wrong comment or just completely fail reading comprehension?

 
 
Zakpearle -2 points 3 months ago

I'll probably get blasted for this, but they spent more on RAM and graphics than they should have. And that PSU will be under 90% load at all times... If you want to build a Steam Box, make your own custom cases in the form of a testbench and put a case around it. Take a Testbench like this one > http://pcpartpicker.com/part/diypc-case-alphagt3 and put a case around it. In the end, aren't Steam Boxes -boxes-? I don't think an HTPC case looks very box-y honestly. Companies should start innovating instead of taking pre-existing technology, rebranding it, and putting it in a ****** small case with ****** ventilation. But my point is that these small boxes, bad air flow, and explosive PSU loads will more than likely ruin your investment in a good home entertainment system.

 
 
yourmother117 [1 Build] -3 points 4 months ago

What's stopping me from buying one of these for 500$ (well allegedly 500$) and formating the hard drive and put in win7? I pay 500$ for parts worth 1300$. I don't see how they would make money off these...

 
 
iTheGM 9 points 4 months ago

Simple answer? It won't be $500.

 
 
christianchase 2 points 4 months ago

I'm pretty sure this won't be $500. They may sell it (assuming Valve is selling this exact model in a year) at a slight loss, maybe for $1200 or something, knowing people will be buying games direct from them anyway and the increased consumer base (console people buying this) would help them turn a profit. However, I'm fairly sure whatever goes to market won't be this exactly--it seems too expensive to convert console buyers IMO. They would probably drop a RAM module and use a cheaper graphics card (maybe AMD, I'm pretty sure the reason they used this beast of an Nvidia card is because SteamOS isn't working with AMD at the moment). And considering other manufacturers will be making these too, we could see Valve continue to make a super-expensive option for the hardcore, and let OEMs make their own, cheaper versions, while Valve remains the example to follow.

[comment deleted]
 
 
TelFiRE [1 Build] 1 point 4 months ago

I don't think the consumer versions have 780s in them. It might not even have the i5.

 
 
tmh2duggy 1 point 2 months ago

The whole point of the steam machine is that its basically a mini itx pc with steam os so if it doesnt I know many people that will upgrade

 
 
TelFiRE [1 Build] 1 point 2 months ago

I don't understand how that relates to what graphics card they decide to use.

This is competing with consoles. In order to do that they need to offer a $400 or so version. In order to do that they need to put something significantly worse than a 780 in. Of course 780 will be a upgrade choice, for sure, but they're certainly not all going to have it.

Very few people want to pay for that kind of power.

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