THE IFIXIT HANDYMEN have managed to get their hands on and disassemble one of the 300 Valve Steam Machine beta consoles that were released to testers only a week ago, awarding it an impressive nine out of 10 repairability score.
The first Steam Machine prototypes and controllers started shipping on 13 December, running either an Intel Core i7-4770, Core i5-4570 or an unspecified Core i3.
Ifixit tore open the Core i5-4570 version, but starting with the controller. Ifixit detailed how the pad separates into two halves: a main button board and cover for the upper, and nothing in the lower.
"Where's the battery? We've grown accustomed to wireless console controllers, so this is a surprise. The Steam Machine controller is wired only, and connects to the box with the included extra-long USB cable," the mechanics said.
"Lifting the main button board out gives a quick look at how the super-configurable touchpads fit into the unit."
In terms of the box itself, Steam has 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, 3GB of GDDR5 video RAM in the form of a Zotac GeForce GTX 780 graphics card, and a mighty 1TB/8GB hybrid SSHD. It measures 12x12.4x2.9in.
"Sturdy posts and a nice sliding lock secure the hefty upper case to the lower. A single screw locks them in place and keeps your Steam properly bottled up," Ifixit said. "Our first look, much to nobody's surprise, reveals all the usual components of a gaming computer. Video card, hard drive, CPU cooler, and power supply are all neatly tucked beneath cowlings and ducts."
This motherboard includes DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI ports, just in case users prefer to use the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 instead of the GTX 780. The heatsink fan is a Zalman CNPS 2X Mini-ITX CPU cooler.
Ifixit said that the Steam box is "designed to be opened and worked on", with the case being secured with a single Phillips #2 screw.
"Modular design with off-the-shelf components makes it easy to remove and upgrade the hard drive and video card," Ifixit explained, but said that RAM removal is made difficult by the motherboard cowling.
"During reassembly, precise cable routing is difficult without a repair manual," the mechanics added.
Valve will release its Steam games console in 2014. When it is released at CES the Steambox will come in a variety of forms. Valve has opened it up to the community and wants third parties to join in and build hardware. The openness extends to games too, and while it hasn't said that the game actually exists, it did say that no games – and we are thinking of Half-Life 3 – will ever be Steam exclusives.
"It's against our philosophy to put a game in jail and say it only works on Steam Machines," said Valve's Doug Lombardi.
Lombardi also said that the box will be open to other services, such as music playback. It will stop short of support for Microsoft Office-type applications, though. "However, we are not planning support for spreadsheets," he added. µ