Valve have a lot of hype to live up to with their Steam Machine’s, and it’s just possible that they might well be able to live up to it. During the CES 2014 event, Valve Software revealed 12 hardware partners, each with their own specific Steam Machine system. The prices vary tremendously, from the lower end of the budget, $500, all the way up to a eye watering $6,000. As you’d expect, the sizes of the Steam Machines, and their specs vary wildly.
Let’s take CyberPowerPC’s Steam Machines for example. They have two different models, an AMD Radeon R9 270 GPU with 2GB of RAM, or a Nvidia GTX 760 (also with 2GB of RAM), 8GB of main system memory, a 500GB Hard Drive, and either an 3.9GHz AMD A6-6400k processor or a 3.5GHz Core i3-4330 processor. Price? Well, it’s between the magic $500 to $700 range.
We also got another look at the iBuyPower machine, although there wasn’t as much detail as we’d have liked. Once again, 8GB of DDR3 memory, a Quad-Core AMD or Intel Processor, and a Radeon GCN GPU, and of course, 500GB of HDD space.
Digital Storm Bolt II on the other hand, is a completely different beast. It comes with a 1TB HDD, 120GB SSD, Intel Core I7 4770K and a GTX 780 TI GPU. Did I mention that it’ll cost around the $2,600 mark? Although this is buy no means the most expensive out of the Steam Machine selection.
Falcon Northwest’s Tiki holds that honor. It’s provides full customization, with various options, and features once again 8-16GB of Memory and up to 6TB of Hard Drive storage, and varying graphics cards, including Nvidia’s GTX Titan Range.
In a similar theme is the Origin PC – Chronos. Price is TBD, and features an I7 4770K (with various clock speed options, indicating you can request the machine overclocked). You can indeed have up to two 6GB GTX Titan’s installed in the system for insane gaming performance using Nvidia’s SLI mode.
Zotac provide a machine which is $599, but under both the CPU and GPU bave a TBD. Although they do mention it’ll either be a form of Nvidia GPU and an Intel CPU.
Perhaps the favorite for many a living room though, will be Maingear Spark. It’s two inches tall, and only 4.5 inches in width. It comes packed with a 3.1GHz AMD A8-5575M (the M means it’s a laptop CPU) processor, up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM, the recently announced Radeon R9 M275X (once again, a laptop part) graphics card, and a 256GB SSD. It comes with four USB ports, Mini Display Port, and of course the traditional HDMI.
Not only will we be seeing the Steam Machines shipping with the SteamOS, but many will also ship the machines with a version of Windows. This makes sense, as for many gamers switching to the Linux powered SteamOS for everything doesn’t yet make complete sense. Many AAA developers are only supporting Linux in a limited way, and so having a dual boot of Windows remains the best option for many.
While all of these machines may look different, and are targeting different market segments, there is a clear vision here. Getting the PC into the living room, and it seems that for the most part, Valve might we be able to do just that. PC gaming needs to be thought of as easier to buy parts for, and easier to configure. While in reality, configuration for most games doesn’t require that much work, to many who’re just wanting to put the disc in and play, it still remains somewhat daunting. Hopefully Valve will be able to shake that mentality.
For more of the Steam Machine’s on display, please check out Valve’s PDF of the the Steam Machines.