It’s only been a week since Valve officially announced its Steam Machine PCs running on the Linux-based SteamOS. While the official boxes won’t be out till next year, it has now been revealed that the 300 Steam Machine prototypes will essentially be high-end computers made from off-the-shelf PC parts. And Valve has now revealed the official specifications of the prototype units, which will be sent off to Steam users later this year.
The official news post dealt, not only with technical details, but also with the overall strategy the company has in mind for its hardware. While talking about this, Valve’s Greg Coomer said, “We wanted to accomplish some specific design goals that in the past others weren’t yet tackling. 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.”
Keeping that in mind, the specifications come with a range of internals for different units, even for the Valve-made beta models. On the lower side, users can get their hands on an Intel Core i3 processor and Nvidia’s mid-range GeForce GTX 660 video card. The higher end will give users a considerable fourth-generation Intel Core i7-4770 CPU as well as a GeForce Titan GPU, currently the highest-performing single GPU in the market.
Valve has now revealed the hardware specifications of the Steam Machine prototypes
The middle of the range being offered will see users getting the upper mid-range fourth-gen Core i5 CPU and Nvidia’s GTX 780 and GTX 760 GPU units. It should be noted that the GTX 780 is an upper mid-range chip while the other is a high-end one, though not quite in the same league as the Titan. And the company has managed to pack all this in a case that measures 304mm x 314 mm x 74 mm. That is almost the size of an Xbox 360 Slim, except that the Steam Machine is slightly longer and deeper.
The company has also said that the Steam Box will be as upgradeable as possible, and encourages people to build their own boxes with similar parts. Valve, once the customised enclosure is revealed, will also post the CAD (computer-aided design) files for its casing. This will allow Steam users so inclined to make a nearly identical box.
The official post, however, states that the various Steam Machines coming from third-party manufacturers in 2014 may differ, “in many cases substantially,” from the component and form factor of the prototype. While talking about this, Coomer said, "To be clear, this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase — those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package."
The prototypes, according to the company, are not designed to replace an existing gaming set-up. "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," said the post, adding that the in-home streaming supported by SteamOS will help with that.
While there is no official word on the price, it can safely be assumed that users will have to shell out a pretty penny when the real Steam machines start rolling out. Valve is still not ready to share the images of the prototype’s case, since the design is not ready yet. The company did, however, promise to offer a closer look at the Steam Controller soon.