Didn't Get A Valve Steam Machine Prototype? Build Your Own!

The Power Bay

A power supply in the Azza Z mounts behind the front panel. Full-sized PS/2 form factor PSUs are supported by using an included extension cable. A space between the front panel and PSU allows for a power plug and extension cable routing.

Unfortunately, because the PSU backplate features a two-hole vent design, it is incompatible with the switch positions of some power supplies. We’re hoping that production versions have a single, larger hole in the center.

FSP Power Supply Installation

The PS/2 form factor plate included with FSP’s SFX power supply can be mounted with the fan facing either way. We chose the direction shown to follow the angle of the case’s power extension cable.

Azza Z Drive Bays

Our prototype Azza Z supports two 3.5” hard drives and a slim optical drive. Hard drive connectors must face toward the power supply, which can make connections a pain with the PSU installed. On the plus side, cable routing is simplified by stowing excess cable length in a bit of free space beneath the lower drive.

Seagate SSHD Installation

Due to the prototype nature of this Azza Z sample, we weren’t surprised to find some issues. The upper hard drive bay is partially blocked by a fan bracket standoff that’s too long. Fortunately, Valve only specified a single SSHD for its first 300 prototype Steam Machines, so we only need space for one disk.

Similarly, the slim optical drive bay is partly blocked by a raised mounting point that’s too wide. Valve didn’t specify an optical drive for its first 300 prototypes, as the company is no doubt relying on game downloads for installation. With that in mind, we’re not going to fill the ODD bay either. Problems solved!

MSI Motherboard And Graphics Installation

A normal installation using a rigid riser card would have required us to install the motherboard first, then the riser, and then the graphics card. However, the prototype case's flexible riser cable allowed us to get the graphics board installed before twisting the cable into position.

Finishing Installation

After connecting the power and SSHD data cables, the panel brace/fan bracket is positioned over internal components using eight screws. The included fan is then connected to the motherboard’s remaining fan header.

Ready To Launch

So, there she sits! After re-positioning the side panel, we powered the system up to enter the UEFI, and set the G.Skill Ares DDR3-1600 CAS 9’s 1.50 volt XMP profile.

Our Steam Machine reference build is now complete, well, that is except for SteamOS, but that's always freely available.

The serendipitously festive color scheme of this fully configured rig is just icing on the cake for three lucky Tom's Hardware readers this holiday season, and you could be one of them if you enter our drawing for your chance to win your own Steam Machine.

Now, ready for a chance to win your own? Fill out our giveaway form for a shot at one of three Tom's Hardware-style Steam Machines.

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Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • sdmap
    There's a typo in the official rules, the i5 steam machine specs list the i7.
  • goodguy713
    That's pretty awesome that they put up all of those parts for the contest. I would love a steam box personally. And pretty cool build too. Ill keep my fingers crossed.. lol
  • patiferoolz
    so i can build it but i can't build it cause the case is still not on sale
    What's a "Desicion" ? Thought it was always, "Decision".
  • antemon
    eh, wait till it hits the market. I'm sure

    A) manufacturers will start shelling out slim SFF cases similar to the steam machine designs

    B) you can buy broken steam boxes from ebay and salvage the case
  • Jgriff
    Already have my steam box in a Fractal design node 304. Couldn't be any happier with that case.
  • Jgriff
    Double post
  • Menigmand
    Huge amounts of wasted space in that case, even with the clever riser cable trick.. I don't get it.
  • Crashman
    12193628 said:
    Huge amounts of wasted space in that case, even with the clever riser cable trick.. I don't get it.
    The selection was "made for us" when nobody could provide a suitable alternative. There were some alternatives in the past, but those are no longer in production. And there will be some alternatives in the future, but those aren't being produce yet.

    The past cases were Micro ATX based. I believe this new one might be made of some of those parts. But its manufacturer came up with a new reason not to reduce its size from former glory: It added a large radiator mount. Azza's new target market will be slim gaming system overclockers, even though it appears that the previous version of this case was probably an office desktop (or Micro ATX media center). Meanwhile, a Tom's Hardware team member or two will continue watching for even smaller alternative cases.

  • aatir
    Its nice and all but would not a person be limited for future upgrades with this i would rather prefer a full tower or mid-tower PC.