My Favourite Steam Machine So Far Is Barely Larger Than A Sandwich

My Favourite Steam Machine So Far Is Barely Larger Than A Sandwich

Maingear’s Steam Machine didn’t make it into Valve’s brochure. At 4.5 x 4.23 x 2.34 inches and weighing less than a pound, it’s pretty easy to miss.

While many of the official third-party Steam Machine partners have been doing their damndest to make a full-size gaming PC as small as possible, manufactures like Maingear (and, judging from the photo, Gigabyte) are taking a different path towards creating an unobtrusive living room box. The plucky little Maingear Spark isn’t a gaming PC shrunk down. It’s a gaming laptop without a screen, tucked inside a charming little box.

My Favourite Steam Machine So Far Is Barely Larger Than A Sandwich

Utilising AMD’s A8-5575M processor and Radeon R9 M275X mobile video card, Maingear has gotten rid of all the bits that make a gaming PC big, leaving only this delightful little box.

My Favourite Steam Machine So Far Is Barely Larger Than A Sandwich

They’ve packed quite a lot into such a small space.

Technical Specification:

  • Processor: AMD A8-5575M, 4 threads, 2.1 — 3.1 GHz
  • Video Card: AMD Radeon R9 M275X
  • Memory: 2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L, 1600/1333 MHz, Max.16GB
  • Hard Drive: 1 x mSATA slot support SSD up to 256GB, 1 x 2.5” HDD tray support SATA III 6Gb/s
  • Network Adaptor: GigabitLAN (Realtek RTL8111G)
  • Audio: Realtek ALC269
  • WiFi: IEEE802.11b/g/n,/ac 2.4 -5Ghz bands, Bluetooth: v4.0/ 3.0+HS, 2402MHz~2483MHz
  • Expansion Slots: 1 x mSATA slot and 1 X Half size mini-PCIe slot occupied by WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0 & 3.0 combo half mini card
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows® 7, Professional or Ultimate 64-Bit or Windows 8.1, SteamOS
  • Power Supply: 135W power adaptor with power cord, Input: AC 100-240V, Output: DC 19V, 7.1A
  • I/O Ports: 1 x HDMI-Out, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 4x USB 3.0, 1 x RJ45, 1 x Audio, 1 x Kensington Lock
  • Dimensions: (W)4.5″ x (H)2.34″ x (D)4.23″
  • Weight: 0.89 LBs
  • Price: TBA

It’s not the most powerful Steam Machine, of course. That’s not the point. It’s a PC gaming box you can toss into your backpack or tuck into your purse. All you need is your Steam controller, a TV, and an HDMI cable, and you’re in business.

“The Spark is a first for Maingear, this extremely small and powerful gaming box will make gamers really look at what they want in a small form factor PC.” said Wallace Santos, CEO and founder of Maingear “We have been working with Valve for over a year building what we think is a great performing tiny PC with tons of storage for games and entertainment, we are very excited to be releasing this soon.”

There’s no pricing for the Spark yet, but Maingear says its meant to be an “affordable PC solution.”

This is what I wanted from a Steam Machine, right here. Not another gaming PC in a smaller, tighter box. I wanted something different, power and performance be damned. Maingear’s Spark sounds like just the ticket.


    • That’s what I’m aiming for in a Steam Machine. Install small Linux titles directly on the Steam Machine, and stream big games and video from my Windows PC.

      Although I might hold out to see what comes around with those new Tegra K1 chips. Steam OS phone?

    • It’s like the anti-Ouya, I think it’ll be awesome as an emulation machine and home media server on top of playing some modern games.

        • this is way over powered for emulation… and i’m sure expensive compared to something like the ouya… if all you want to do is run emulators and xbmc there are plenty of options already

          • yes more expensive than the ouya, which i was initially excited for – but it can do alot more than the oya as well.
            can ouya run steam’s more casual games like bastien,braid, trine, sf iv?

          • well you said you want it for emulation and media… you didn’t say you wanted to play indie games, etc… hence the reply…

    • Not super casual, we don’t know what it is for sure yet but I would imagine it is better than AMD’s current APU’s.

      I imagine it would be good enough to play BF4 on low and something like Bioshock Infinite on Medium/High.

    • There’s very little information out yet about mobile Volcanic Islands chips, but AMD have published specs for the R9 M290X, which seems to be a chip that’s half of a Hawaii PRO (the chip inside the R9 290): it has half the shader cores, half the texture units, half the ROPs, and half the memory bus width. Raw performance seems to be a bit less than half of the R9 290 as it has slightly lower clocks.

      From this we might take a guess that the R9 M275X in the spark might be based on a chip that’s essentially half of a Curacao PRO (the chip inside the R9 270): this would put it somewhere between the R7 250 and R7 260 in terms of performance – that is, it should handle most current titles at high or max quality levels and still hit around 30 fps at 1080p. This is just a guess though, who knows how their naming scheme is going to work out.

  • So they decided the power supply “doesn’t count” if it’s on the floor instead of built in.
    Then they took a laptop – and ripped out the battery, screen and built-in keyboard.

    With logic like that, I could use my ASUS motherboard still in the packing box…

  • I’m actually really impressed with this. Now just need a Tegra based model and we’re set, especially in a few years. These chips are starting to get rather exciting.

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