Before the year comes to a conclusion, Valve plan to shift prototype units of their new Steam Machines to around 300 lucky beta testers. According to a recent post on the Steam community forums, it seems the company is ready to talk about the specifications of these units, and what the testers are likely to expect.
Valve confirmed that the Steam Machines would be made available by 2014, and would be constructed by a plethora of different companies. Although the companies involved in manufacturing these systems are yet to be revealed, Valve provided a fleeting picture of the difference in the extent of their capabilities:
“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.”
Without further ado, here are the prototype specifications, of the highly anticipated Steam Machines, that will be dispatched to the 300 beta testers:
- GPU cards: Nvidia Titan, GTX780, GTX760, GTX660 (differs depending upon unit)
- Central processing unit: Intel i7-4770, Intel i5-4570 and Intel i3 processors (differs depending upon unit)
- RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 for processor, 3GB GDDR5 for graphics
- Storage capacity: 1 terabyte/8 gigabyte solid state hybrid drive (SSHD)
- Power supply: In-built 450w PSU
- System dimensions: 12 by 12.4 by 2.9 inches
Valve also stipulate their primary ambitions behind launching their range of Steam Machines. During the post, they claim they wanted to fulfill design goals that “… in the past others weren’t yet tackling.”
Apparently, one of these goals was the production of a small form factor system that, whilst being living room friendly, offered customers a high powered, fully upgradable system. This contrasts sharply against the upgradability of the slew of consoles that have been and gone, which have been previously described as too prohibitive. Valve have specifically stated that all of the components are replaceable, from the GPU card right down to the motherboard.
Valve expect many of their customers will build their own Steam Machines – something they seem to have no issue with. Valve are even going so far as to share the source CAD files for their enclosure, just in case somebody would like to construct their own.
Valve were candid in their reflections about the Steam Machine, arguing that the system would not cater to the needs of every Steam user, and is certainly not meant to substitute existing, high-powered gaming rigs. However, in admitting this, they also believe there to be a market that would appreciate the design and performance of their new systems, which are designed to “… bridge the gap into the living room…”
Although images of the Steam Machine are yet to be made public, Valve insist that they will share the look of their devices, prior to releasing the prototype units. It is also expected that further refinements to the system’s enclosure will be made, prior to official release.
Ultimately, the specifications of Valve’s Steam Machine prototypes seem similar to regular windows-based computer rigs. Nonetheless, with the concomitant arrival of a brand new Steam operating system (SteamOS), as well as a new Steam Controller, sporting dual trackpads and advanced hepatic technology, could this finally signal the emergence of an alternative to traditional gaming consoles?
By: James Fenner