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Here are the specs for Valve's Steam Machine prototypes
Here are the specs for Valve's Steam Machine prototypes
October 4, 2013 | By Kris Graft

October 4, 2013 | By Kris Graft
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    39 comments
More: Console/PC



Valve's living room-friendly, Linux-based Steam Machines are on the horizon, and Valve designer Greg Coomer has offered up more details on the round of prototype hardware that's due to ship to 300 select Steam users.

Here are a few of the key points from a blog post from Coomer:

- He reiterated that a "variety of companies" will be making Steam Machines. "Some of those companies will be capable of meeting the demands of lots of Steam users very quickly, some will be more specialized and lower volume. The hardware specs of each of those machines will differ, in many cases substantially, from our prototype," he said.

- Coomer said the purpose of Steam Machines is to address holes in the living room game market that other game companies are not addressing. "One of them was to combine high-end power with a living-room-friendly form factor. Another was to help us test living-room scenarios on a box that's as open as possible."

- As previously stated, the prototype is built from off-the-shelf parts (notably, this is a key trait of disruptive technologies). Users can swap out the insides at will.

- Valve is even making the prototype's custom enclosure open for tinkering: "We'll also share the source CAD files for our enclosure, in case people want to replicate it as well," Coomer said.

Here are the specs for the 300 Steam Machine Prototypes. They range from mid-range hardware to high-end boxes that sport a $1,000 graphics card (see Nvidia's Titan):

GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
CPU: some boxes with Intel : i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU)
Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

Coomer said Valve isn't ready to post pictures of the prototype, but the dimensions give you an idea of the size of the box – about one square foot around and three inches high.

He added some more clarity on Valve's strategy with the Steam Machines, stating that a lot of Steam users are happy with their current PC setups, and Steam Machines are not meant to replace those rigs.

"Many of those users would like to have a way to bridge the gap into the living room without giving up their existing hardware and without spending lots of money. We think that's a great goal, and we're working on ways to use our in-home streaming technology to accomplish it - we'll talk more about that in the future," said Coomer.

Steam Machines are due to go on sale for the public sometime next year.


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Comments


Lex DeBussy
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That's pretty cool that they really want to provide a high-end experience in the living room that current consoles promise, but don't truly deliver. I just hope that they have a good airflow system in place for the box.

Ian Fisch
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The problem is that console manufacturers can sell their machines at a loss and then make the money back on software.

If Valve tries to do this, everyone on the internet will buy one of these things and immediately install Windows on it.

Joaquim Guerreiro
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Steam works on windows too. Its all peachy as long they don't install Xbone's software.

Scott Lavigne
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@Joaquim

A fresh installation of Windows doesn't come with Steam though, and this deal would appeal to a lot more people than just those that play games. Unless they prettied it up for all potential consumers (basically made it a general HTPC out of the box), they can't sell it at a loss.

Joaquim Guerreiro
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@Scott
I agree. By having 3rd party makers and off the shelf parts looks like the are relying on free entrepreneurship to drive the price down. Selling hardware at a loss to get market penetration is such a popular strategy that we´re tempted to believe its the only way But the PC in the 90's got hold of the gaming market just by way of an open and flexible platform (against several closed architecture competitors), maybe steam box can pull that off again

Luis Guimaraes
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You can tell those specs are made for TwitchTV. Valve, smart as always.

AJ S
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"Many of those users would like to have a way to bridge the gap into the living room without giving up their existing hardware and without spending lots of money. We think that's a great goal, and we're working on ways to use our in-home streaming technology to accomplish it - we'll talk more about that in the future,"

I think that is spot on. I've completely ditched cable, my PC is in a different room, and I'd like to be able to play PC games in my living room. I don't own any consoles nor will I. Not only that but my primary device in the living room is a HTPC. I would love to affordably attach a PC to every TV in the house with the ability to watch hulu, netflix, aereo, as well as stream content from my local network and play games. There is nothing out there short of a PC that does that.

Alan Rimkeit
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"to watch hulu, netflix, aereo, as well as stream content from my local network and play games."

My PS3 does all of that except for aereo.

Chris Moeller
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Yep, I use a PC for everything- movies, music, gaming, the machine can do it all. I'll never own any consoles either- I was interested in the PS3 when you had the option of installing Linux on it, but what is the point of buying PC hardware, at relatively the same cost, that limits you to only playing games?

But then again, some people need the simplicity of only having to push a button to operate a machine.

The steam machine could be great for those that don't want to have to go through installing an OS, if they make the interface simple enough.

Rui Mota
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But what makes it a "steambox"? A custom Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboard? Whats different about it compared to any PC to justify the branding. Guess the same questions remain plus, why is AMD out of the loop.

Heng Yoeung
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SteamOS seems to be the primary differentiator from other pc's. Valve doesn't want to wither and die if and when Windows goes closed.

Rui Mota
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SteamOS is still a x86 OS, that you can install in any PC... likewise this steambox is a full pc nothing stopping you from installing windows on it...

Heng Yoeung
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That's an excellent point. I am still trying to figure out how that contradicts my point though..

Rui Mota
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My point was about what´s the point of announcing a PC as new hardware, and your point was that the software made the difference, so I made a point about the software not being bounded to the hardware, what brings us to the first point.
Of-course I might have misunderstand the all point. cheers

Jason Drayson
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It's just a matter of branding, isn't it? And that by calling it a Steambox I suppose it's very much like stating: here is a PC which is pre-loaded with our custom OS which will just "work" with our games library, without all the BS that usually comes with gaming on a PC (with windows).

Richard Eid
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Like I've said since the first rumblings of a Steambox, it's the new MPC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_PC

But Steamboxes are DOA already. These are just PCs. You've been able to have a Steambox, and indeed you have, since 2003 when you installed Steam with HL2 (or was it CS:S?). And Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, eMachines (LOLOL!), etc. have been providing these preconfigured boxes for a while.

While I can see the value in providing gaming specs in these pre-built PCs, it will obviously come at a price. The only thing that differentiates these machines from any other PC you'll buy in a store is SteamOS. And since it's freely licensable, there aren't going to be any sort of restrictions on the hardware. So you'll end up with these eMachine type boxes that try to keep the cost down but provide a terrible experience. Then you'll have the Falcon Northwest or Alienware type boxes that will be so far overpriced that your average consumer won't buy them and anyone else that would have spent the money on them will just keep building their own PCs, save for a few with lots of money and little to no knowledge or time to build one themself. And then there'll be a hundred other middle of the road builds. And nobody will know what to buy. And their experiences will all vary wildly.

You have an Xbox and your friend has an Xbox and you can go to each other's places and enjoy the same experience. But then you have an Alienware Steambox and your friend has an eMachine Steambox and you'll never play at your friend's house and he'll never buy a Steambox again because he spent maybe $400 on his Steambox when he could have had a better experience with an Xbox or Playstation. And maybe you'll never buy a Steambox again because when a couple years go by and you need to spend another $400 on a new video card because yours died or it's just not able to keep up with the newer games being released when you could have spent the same or less on an Xbox or Playstation and never had to worry about it not keeping up with games coming out a year or two after you bought it.

To be honest, this is all the crap I love about PCs. But it seems Valve is aiming to bring all the modern problems of PC gaming to console gamers. From worrying about specs to pricing to software compatibility, it just seems like a giant mess all around.

That reminds me of another thing...how will you view the store from a Steambox? Will you see all the Windows games when you browse? Will there be a notice that says something like, "Hi! If you want this game you can buy another PC that has Windows on it and then install Steam to it, download this game and then stream it to your new Steambox!"???

A Steambox literally means not having any of the back-catalog that Steam currently offers. There are something like 2200 games on Steam with just under 200 that currently work on Linux and hardly any of them being AAA titles. I'd be willing to be that number won't be jumping by leaps and bounds when SteamOS is formally released. Nor would I be willing to bet that even over time any significant number of them will be converted.

I just don't get it. As more and more details trickle out of Bellevue, it makes less and less sense to me.

Chris Melby
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I like how the PSU is only 450 watts. I learned first hand that the 700+ watts that some video cards require, is only the GPU makers protecting their arse, since cheap PSUs don't always deliver the wattage they've printed on their box.

My Current PC only sucks about 380 watts on full load, which is about half of what it supposedly needs, but yet I have a 1000 watt PSU guaranteed to maintain above 80. I guess I can shove in two more GPUs, but the market conveniently never drops the price of video-cards, just offers newer better ones at a more economically feasible price...

I'll stick with piecing my own PCs together, unless Vavle ends up offering their box -- with grade A components -- for less than I can assemble the same speced PC.

Heng Yoeung
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You should consider opening up your own business if you can build a 12x12 pc of comparable power without getting smoke out of the thing.

Chris Melby
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As someone that has never built anything smaller than a mid-tower since the early days of DOS, should I have specified that I don't care about size?

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Alex Boccia
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A 450w PSU @ 80+ efficiency should fulfill the Steam Machine purposes, I think. Sure they could have done 520, but I don't think this is really undercutting either - GPUs only take up 150w + 90w or less for the cpu. Give a little leeway for peak activity and consider above all else that it's a standardized system and it seems like a fairly well-informed decision. Who knows, of course - if the PSU becomes a problem during the hardware beta, revisions can always be made.

Heng Yoeung
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You need to consider size when you are talking about migrating to the living room. No one wants an ice machine in front of his tv when space is at a premium. Plus, smaller means portability. But, I suppose you don't care about portability either.

Chris Melby
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@Heng,

I was only speaking for myself and not others. The points you make are certainly valid for some and they're things I'd consider if the living room were my gaming focus.

I do care about portability and size when it comes to my primary work comp -- which is why I work on a MacBook Pro. But for my PC I absolutely value expandability, upgradability, and cooling more so when it comes to gaming and my 3D work. And for the few times I did transport my PC, it was hardly the chore it used to be, since my aluminum case and extra LCD monitor weigh substantially less than the older steel-cases and CRTs I've owned.


@Alex,

I agree with what you say. I like that they put a realistic wattage for the PSU, because it means they're focusing on quality. If I had bought a wattage meeter and tested my PC earlier, I would have never invested in a 1000 and would have stuck with the 620 HX I was using.

Alex Boccia
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Praying to get into that hardware beta. Pick me, Valve! Pick mememememe!

James Yee
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No me! :)

Alex Boccia
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ssshhhhhhh

John Wallace
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Forgive me if I sound misinformed but wouldn't this completely wreck the point of a console?

If they have the same user-friendliness as a console but with the ability to upgrade graphics as a pc, then there is absolutely no point in owning a console anymore.

It will be a glorious harmony of console and PC. I see the future gentlemen.

Rui Mota
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Not so. The point of a console is having fixed hardware and no OS overhead. And all the benefits that came with a unified/ stable design.
So far with what we know, Seteambox does not offer any of those benefits.

TC Weidner
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I agree Rui, add to your points, consoles also have a very tested and tried price point. AKA, 500 or less

Biff Johnson
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I'm intrigued to see the hardware line up. The other 2 big names (XBox 1 and PS4) jumped into bed with AMD. The BF4 beta is a sign of things to come. The game is optimized to make use of that hardware causing a great deal of difficulty for Intel and/or Nvidia users. I'm speaking of PC gamers here. That said, it makes plain why AMD and Dice can roll out their new Dx divergent software "Mantle". For the rest of us, This may not be such great news.

With Steam's new systems, it just may give dev's a reason for pause when they are considering code options. Here's hoping.

Jonathan Murphy
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The option to upgrading will push them ahead. Long term Steam Box will slaughter. As for the PS4, Wii U, Xb1, they have an OS! I said next gen it will be the big 2, due to expanded console competition. Can Valve secure exclusive games? Can Valve choose the right launch window? Those two are the most vital.

Sean Sang
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It all depends on pricing. This is a huge factor and time and time again it's shown that no matter how good the hardware is if it's priced outside people's budget it will fail. From what I can tell Steambox won't be priced at the low end of $400 (ps4), maybe they'll try $500 (xbox one) but if it's $600 it could very well only sell to non-console gamers.

Tony Rayo
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I know pretty much everything from the hardware side and little to nothing about the software/OS (aside from that fact that it will be Linux-based). Due to that fact, I can't really judge whether or not any of these components will be right for me (I can't see it working successfully as LinuxOS being the main/only OS... perhaps they are going for some kind of hypervisor solution?). I'm someone who love console, handheld and PC gaming though as all offer unique experiences that let me pick and choose (full disclosure: right now I'm mostly gaming on a Sony PS3 + Vita + soon to be PS4 and a nice custom development/gaming rig; the only other gaming platform that interests me in the 3DS for some of the impressive titles but I do not care for how Nintendo is going about its hardware releases).

Luckily my main tower is close (10ft away; built it to run silent though) to the main TV/living room area (I have a MacBook as well as a KVM solution if I need to work/game in another location). Increasingly, likely due to the frequent and awesome Steam sales, I find myself buying most multi-platform games on the PC and then end up playing them with my controller of choice (a DualShock 3, emulating Xinput) unless the game requires mouse/kb play (I know some people can work wonders with a controller, but if I'm playing DotA/TF2/etc, I'm completely rubbish with a controller regardless of the amount of tweaking).

I have a feeling that there is much more to be announced (HTPC/mini-ATX gaming rigs are not a new invention) or rather I'm hoping there is. I was able to recently take an OUYA (it was a bonus a few of us received for finishing a project early x.x), get rid of their Android fork with Tegra4Linux (a bit painful only because a lot of packages were out of date) and now my parents have a device with more features than most SmartTVs (although I did have to invest in an external WiFi adapter when I shouldn't have had to *disgruntle look*). So since Valve's Steambox prototype is nothing special (although I'm sure it will have a bit more ports than OUYA =p), it kind of comes down to the OS (which will be freely distributed). I don't know, this just seems kind of niche to me since everything they have said can already be done. SteamOS is the remaining X-factor.

Michael Joseph
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Valve's legendary goodwill and hope from a lot of developers will be the Steam Machine's greatest assets.

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Kujel s
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So do we have any figures on what these machines will cost at retial cause chances are that they will be too expensive for console gamers and not customized enough for PC players.

Harry Fields
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These things will cost at minimum, close to a thousand bucks... even for the i3 model. This, gentlepeople, is not competing with consoles, it's a branded, gaming-optimized Linux box.


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