The product has two versions, with the cheaper one starting at $500 – we were not given a number for the more expensive model. The less expensive iteration features an Intel Core i5-4570R, Iris graphics (5200), 128MB eDRAM (embedded DRAM on the Iris processor), an Intel wireless card, and connectivity for 2 SO-DIMMs and up to 4 drives. The drive configuration is pretty impressive considering the small space. There are 3xmSATA connectors and one standard SATA connector.
Note that system memory and storage are not included in the above listed price. On the bright side, that means you get to open it up and enjoy the hardware inside when you go to install those components. The outside offers users access to 4xUSB 3.0 ports, an RJ-45 Network Interface, an SPDIF optical audio port, an HDMI port, and a mini DisplayPort. The more expensive model is essentially the same unit with a more powerful Core i7 4770R.
Many of the components in Gigabyte’s SteamBox are simply the next logical step in the product cycle from the original NUC. Where Gigabyte differed was in the CPU choice and the cooling solution. Intel’s original reference design was about half the height of the Brix Pro and used low power CPUs. The CPUs used in this Steam Machine are essentially BGA versions of the desktop models; we were told both are 65W TDP. These more powerful CPUs require better cooling, and Gigabyte’s answer for that was to use the top 50% of the case for the thermal solution, which includes a fan.
If you’re considering putting a SteamBox in your living room but you don’t want a full-sized computer sitting next to your TV, Gigabtye’s offering may be exactly what you’re looking for. The demo model, which had an actual haptic Steam controller attached to it, was quiet and its size made it unobtrusive. Gigabyte’s Brix Pro performs best at 1080 for gaming, but thanks to the platform and mini DisplayPort, it can produce 4K output. Stay tuned for more SteamBox-related information as we’ll probably post more on components for a DIY build.
- Patrick "MoCalcium" Stone.