Those dastardly devils at iFixit have managed to get their mitts on one of Valve’s 300 Steam Machine prototypes and, of course, torn it down. Inside is a quad-core Haswell Core i5-4570, a Zotac GTX 780 graphics card, 16GB of Crucial Ballistix Sport (PC3 12800) RAM, and a 1TB 5400 RPM Seagate hard drive. If you wanted to build your own SteamOS-powered doppelganger, it would set you back around $ 1300 to match Valve’s Steam Machine part-for-part.
First and foremost, it’s good news if you want to repair or upgrade the Steam Machine: The entire thing opens up with the removal of a single Philips screw. Once the upper case is removed, it’s trivial to replace the hard drive. Remove a custom piece of plastic cowling and you then have access to the GTX 780 graphics card.
Getting at the motherboard and RAM is a little more tricky, however, as it requires the removal of a custom, tightly-fitted plastic cowl. The motherboard is a an ASRock Mini-ITX number (the Z87E), and the Core i5-4570 is cooled by the rather lovely Zalman CNPS 2X cooler. The motherboard, RAM, CPU, and cooler are all completely standard parts — you can replace or upgrade them as you see fit.
Beyond that, there isn’t much else in Valve’s Steam Machine. There’s a 450W 80 Plus Gold PSU, and there’s a fancy custom logic board harboring 12 LEDs behind The Big Button, and that’s about it. iFixit also tore into the Steam Controller, with its two touchpads for thumbsticks, but there isn’t a whole lot going on inside. Overall, iFixit gives Valve’s Steam Machine a nine out of 10 for repairability, losing a point for the difficult-to-remove cowling and precise cable routing that makes it somewhat difficult to put the box back together again.
Finally, we should also take this chance to point out the machined holes on top of the Steam Machine. You may have noticed that one of the holes is shiny. In actual fact, there are 320 holes grille holes, and each of the 320 Steam Machine prototypes is uniquely marked by a different shiny hole. According to Valve, 300 Steam Machines were sent out to hardware beta testers, leaving 20 machines to hand out at Valve’s discretion. Surprisingly, none of the big tech sites seem to have received one, but we’re hearing that some developers have received them, along with some prominent PC gaming YouTube channels. I find it hard to believe that Valve would give iFixit a Steam Machine purely for tear-down purposes, but who knows. Considering how easy it was to put the Steam Machine back together, it’s possible that iFixit simply borrowed someone’s box for a few hours and then gave it back.iFixit]