iFixit tears down beta unit of Steam Machine gaming PC

iFixit tears down beta unit of Steam Machine gaming PC

Summary: Considering it's built with off-the-shelf components, this Steam Machine is not surprisingly very easy to repair and upgrade.

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TOPICS: PCs, Hardware, Linux
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If you're used to the teardowns of most Apple products by iFixit, which usually detail how difficult is it to put a MacBook or an iPad back together again, then you may be pleasantly surprised to hear about how the website's encounter with one of the Steam Machine beta units went.

Somehow iFixit managed to snag one of the 300 test systems that Valve sent out of its forthcoming gaming PC to the chosen few, then proceeded to gut it. But first, it noted the unique "steamer trunk" (get it?) style box the Steam Machine comes in, saying it "wins the award for best packaging. Ever."

The Steam Machine comes with off-the-shelf PC parts, which iFixit calculates costing about $1,300 on the open market. It also includes a gaming controller with a large number of buttons, though no thumbsticks, as well as a USB recovery drive. The controller is easy enough to disassemble, even if it's unclear how you'd obtain parts to replace anything faulty. iFixit points out that it is a wired controller, which deviates from current console gaming practice and tethers you to the Steam Machine while playing.

You won't be tethered to most of the components inside the Steam Machine, however, as the case is held closed by just one screw and items like the graphics card (an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 from Zotac) and hard drive (a Seagate 1TB laptop drive paired with 8GB of solid-state storage) are easily removed and swapped. As a result, iFixit gives the Steam Machine a 9 out of 10 on its Repairability Score, with a score of 10 meaning easiest to repair.

The beta system gets dinged a bit because the RAM is tricky to access to replace (though, in this configuration, the 16GB included is the maximum the mini-ITX motherboard can handle). Proper cable placement when you're reassembling the Steam Machine is also a bit difficult, according to iFixit.

Of course, easy repairability doesn't automatically mean that the Steam Machine will be a success at bringing Linux-based gaming into the living room, especially if it will cost over $1,000 (or twice as much as the new PlayStation 4 or Xbox One). But if you do plan on joining the Steam Machine gaming revolution, you should be comforted to know that it will be relatively painless to upgrade if you desire or fix if you need to, thanks to the lack of proprietary hardware (save for the controller and the large power button on the front of the Steam Machine).

Topics: PCs, Hardware, Linux

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8 comments
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  • So, you'll still be a part of the GLORIOUS MASTER PC GAMING RACE!

    Good to know!
    CrimsonEclipse
  • Great console.

    Great console / PC :).

    Dunno if I get one in the near future, but it's great to see it as an option. Especially if Microsoft ever gets rid of the desktop :(. I've got sooo many games that will likely never see the Windows 8 store - a lot of old games, no longer made.
    CobraA1
    • THE FUTURE OF WHAT???????????????

      WHO SAID MICROSOFT WILL GET RID OF DESKTOP. WRONG, THEY WILL NEVER REMOVE THE DESKTOP UNTIL WIN32 IS DEAD. THEY WILL BE SOOO MANY GAMES WILL LIKELY TO BE SEEN IN WINDOWS STORE, NOT CALLED WINDOWS 8 STORE.
      THEBIGBEN2012
      • It has begun...

        ...by locking your caps lock key in the ON position!

        On a serious note, the desktop PC is not dying anytime soon. There's a lot of stuff I do on a desktop that would feel awkward on a laptop, let alone a tablet.
        MichelR666
  • Should be interesting!

    Can't wait to see the Steam Machines at CES. Should be a really interesting development. This machine might be expensive but wow, compared to the new consoles it really is a beast! Check it out - http://versus.com/en/valve-steam-machine-vs-microsoft-xbox-one
    Aiden Richardson
    • Thanks for the link, but it appears to me that the XBox wins.

      Looking at the two charts, I would say that Xbox wins this one, particularly when you throw in the rather substantial price difference.
      batpox
  • Don't forget Steam encourages BYO, too.

    Don't forget that people will also be able to build their own Steam machines, unlike the three big gaming console systems.
    joetron2030
  • ifixit

    Clyaton has been involved with cutting edge tech for years, especially gaming systems.
    Brian Schrader