CES 2014: Maingear Launches Tiny APU-Powered "Spark" Steambox PC

Subject: Systems | January 6, 2014 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, SteamOS, steambox, SFF, maingear, CES 2014, CES

Not content to let Digital Storm have all the fun with SteamOS, MAINGEAR has launched a small form factor SPARK Steambox PC! Clad in the traditional red and black colors of Maingear, the Spark is a stylish gaming system powered by an AMD APU that is about the size of an Intel NUC. Maingear is offering the system with Valve's Linux-based SteamOS as well as Microsoft's Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operating systems. 

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The Steambox PC measures 4.5" x 4.23" x 2.34" and weighs 0.98 pounds. The system has a vivid red and black design with large mesh vents on the sides and rear panel. IO includes two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks on the front as well as one HDMI, one Mini DisplayPort, one Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports on the rear IO panel. The design is striking and likely to appeal to gamers though it may clash with your other A/V equipment in the entertainment center (which really comes down to personal tastes).

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Despite the small size, Maingear has managed to pack a respectable amount of PC hardware into the Spark. The SFF Steambox is powered by an AMD A8-5557M APU (four threads) clocked at 2.1GHz base and 3.1GHz turbo along with an AMD Radeon R9 M275X graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, and up to 16GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory (two SO-DIMMs). Storage includes a single SATA III 6Gbps port (with room in the case for a single 2.5" drive) and one mSATA slot that supports SSDs up to 256GB. The Spark does support Gigabit Ethernet, but it also comes with a pre-installed Mini-PCIe card that provides 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz bands) and Bluetooth 4.0. Users will be able to customize the RAM and storage options, but the other specifications are not user-configurable.

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The Maingear Spark will be available for purchase in late Q1 2014 for an as-yet-undisclosed price. For what it's worth, Maingear has stated that the tiny Spark gaming PC will an "affordable PC solution."

Personally, depending on price, I am interested in this steam machine as I rather like the aesthetics and the internal hardware should be sufficient for basic gameplay on the hardware itself and game streaming from my main desktop when that feature becomes available.

What do you think about Maingear's miniscule APU-powered Steam Machine?

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Source: Maingear
January 6, 2014 | 10:10 PM - Posted by biohazard918

So what exactly is an r9 m275x? Is it based on Pitcairn, Bonaire, or Cape Verde. I can't find any info on it.

January 6, 2014 | 10:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Links to manufacturers'(ODM) data sheet for the APU and the graphics card, as a google search just points back to mostly release articles, please do a review with benchmarks ASAP! .89 pounds could be velcroed to the back of a TV or display, but some carfully placed Hidden attatchment eyelet rings at the corners would be a big help, Thanks.

January 6, 2014 | 10:13 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Unfortunately, there aren't any detail on the R9 M275X yet, but I believe AMD announced it earlier today at their press conference so hopefully some specifications will come out soon!

January 9, 2014 | 12:49 PM - Posted by aparsh335i (not verified)

It would be funny if the R9 M275x was equally as powerful to the GPU in the xbox1...and then sold these steamboxes for like $300.

January 29, 2014 | 03:13 AM - Posted by nightscheme (not verified)

It is likely that this is the same box they showed at CES this year, which would mean that the R9-M275X is equivalent to an 8890M, which is likely an 8870M with a higher TDP accompanied with a higher core clock, judging by the full copper heatsinks that can be seen in jayztwocent's video about the brix lineup (www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=zfpUMrT0bXs#t=227), Id say that its somewhere above 60 Watts, though that'd just be pure speculation based on that the observation that the smaller heatsink is touching the motherboard and the device is running a 35 Watt processor, whilst the heatsink touching the gpu is roughly twice the size(though it is mentioned that the heatsinks are unified, I assume that this size difference is deliberate).
What is much more interesting though is that multiple videos from their CES booth mention that the device is featuring 'MXM graphics'(www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dfa7ixflMKY#t=446 www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iWh_MQ_Bm3o#t=50), which is feasible, since the MXM 3.0 standard specifies a size of 100 by 82 millimetres for the modules and the device has a footprint of roughly 115 by 128 millimetres, so even if you generously deduct about a centimetre on each axis for connectors and mounting there would be more than enough space available, this would be fantastic since it would theoretically give the user the ability to switch out the graphics card for a more powerful one down the line, should they desire to do so (though MXM graphics cards are somewhat hard to come by).

Personally I am very excited for more information about the Brix Gaming, since I am looking to build or buy myself a small form factor gaming pc in the near future and don't have the ambition to get a high-end machine, something like this that just does the job would be perfect, depending on the price, which I hope will stay below 500 bucks.

January 29, 2014 | 03:17 AM - Posted by nightscheme (not verified)

*based on the observation

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