Valve Announce Steam Machines With Specs And Prices

By Graham Smith on January 7th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

I bet this one is expensive.

The Consumer Electronics Show is happening in Las Vegas right now, which is a lot like E3 but full of televisions and Michael Bay instead of videogames. There is at least one thing there of interest to us, though: Valve have been revealing the first concrete details of their Steam Machine partners, including the 14 manufacturers currently making them and the specs and prices of some of those boxes.

Nathan is at the event and we’ll have interviews and impressions to share with you soon, but let’s round-up the news so far.

The manufacturers confirmed thus far are Alienware, Maingear, CyberPowerPC, Gigabyte, Digital Storm, Alternate, Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, Materiel.net, Next, Origin PC, Scan, Webhallen and Zotac. I have heard of about four of those before, because I am a tech expert.

The machines and specs announced vary wildly, ranging from CyberPowerPC at the cheapest with a console-equivalent £305/$499 model and Falcon Northwest Tiki at the most expensive, with a version that’ll set you back £3662/$6000.

The size and purpose of the machines changes too. The Maingear Spark is a 2″x4.5″ box with laptop parts inside, obviously most useful as a streaming box, while the Webhallen build looks like a fridge. There’s a full list of specs at the, er, Metro site.

Steam Machines are living room PCs which will run Valve’s SteamOS and help you play games on your TV, either directly or by streaming your games from another SteamOS-enabled machine elsewhere within your house. They’re joined by Valve’s own Steam Controller, which replaces the traditional dual analogue sticks with two sensitive touchpads with haptic feedback. The hope is that, eventually, Steam Machines can free your games from both the desktop and Windows, and allow you to play mouse-based games while reclining on your couch.

Valve sent out their own Steam Machine prototypes last year to 300 beta participants, which resulted in a lot of excited benchmarking videos and the like. While Valve eventually aim to manufacture their own Steam Machine, the partners they’ve teamed up with will be first to market and the aim is to offer as much choice to gamers as possible.

We want to do the same around RPS, so remember that our own Steam Machine is still in development.

It doubles as Adam's house.

These machines may optionally free us from Windows SteamOS as they’re built on Linux, specifically Debian. That means they’ll only run Steam games that are currently built to run on Linux systems, and while the last few years have been great for the penguin, that’s still far fewer than the total number of games available on Steam. You can of course pop Windows on a Steam Machine easily, but you’ll be missing out on most of the functionality that makes them unique, which feels rather like missing the point.

Nathan has been chatting with Valve, so we’ll have more for you soon.

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112 Comments »

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  1. RProxyOnly says:

    They are simply too expensive for what they are.

    Nice idea, I REALLY want an alternative to Windows.. but fail is written all over this..I think the stand alone OS will serve better at furthering the Steam agenda.

    • Anorak says:

      Well, there’s nothing stopping you slapping SteamOS on an existing PC. Or just going the Linux route entirely. The game selection isn’t there yet, but it is improving slowly. The most triple A type game released recently for Linux was Last Light, but I don’t see games like Tomb Raider being released for linux any time soon.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        “Well, there’s nothing stopping you slapping SteamOS on an existing PC.”

        Obviously, hence my championing of the standalone OS.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          For those of us who can build a machine, Steam OS being open is great for us. For those that can afford the more moderate-priced ones, the pre-made machines are not too terrible of a deal. (the prices on the high-end machines is ridiculous, though)

          Overall, though, it’s a brilliant strategy. Competition via passive consumer acceptance.

          Every PC with Steam on it increases Valve’s potential for revenue. If they can solidify the PC in the living room, specifically a box that will run Steam OS, then they are competing with consoles without having to build a closed-garden console, make a specific SDK, ship this SDK around to developers and publishers, pay and collect on licensing fees, etc., etc., etc. Essentially, all of the headaches that come with consoles are eliminated, yet Valve gets a chance to muscle in on the market of the PS4 and 360 for a fraction of the financial investment.

          • PopeRatzo says:

            I just want to establish right up front that I do not intend to use my Steam Box in the living room. I don’t like playing games in the living room. I have a little office at the end of the house where I can play games in peace and where my wife can’t see how stupid I look because when I’m concentrating hard on a game my mouth opens and my tongue tends to hang out like a dog.

            Plus, playing games in the living room is for children. Serious adult gamers (like me) keep their shame hidden away.

    • The First Door says:

      The entire point is that they can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want. If you want to go build your own one, go build your own one and slap SteamOS on it and buy the controller separately! Of course the pre-builds are going to be more expensive, that’s the way of the world!

    • Eldiran says:

      I know very little about computer hardware, but isn’t $500 for the CyberPowerPC one actually a good deal? It seems to be about the same specs as my custom-built PC, and that’s about what I ended up spending getting the parts together.

      I ask not necessarily because I disagree but because I honestly want to know.

      • Wedge says:

        If it’s minimum specs actually include a R9 270 at that price, yes it is a very good deal.

      • Moraven says:

        From newegg.com:

        $395 + Mobo price + Case/PSU price + controller price

        It is a decent deal. The problem is how well it will run AAA games and for how long. You could put $400-$500 into an Xbox or PS4 and have a machine that will last longer performance wise and has more access to AAA games.

        • Wedge says:

          Why would a system with specs comparable to current consoles ever not be able to run games made for consoles in the future? These aren’t the magical custom hardware consoles of yore, with secrets and potential to unlock. They’re just lower-midrange PC inaboxes running slightly customized PC hardware. Moore’s law is dead, even PC hardware hasn’t made any notable advances in 3 years now.

          • Asurmen says:

            Not completely true. I know from an insider that a number of hardware features are currently turned off on the PS4 until further bugs are ironed out and the extra power is needed in the feature. We’ll see.

        • Premium User Badge

          bills6693 says:

          Its better specs than the laptop I currently play on (intel HD 3000 integrated graphics chip for god’s sake) and for just £305 its actually in my price range. And I would rather this than drop the money on a console because the games I want to play aren’t on consoles. I have little interest in shooters or racing sims. I want strategy games, and interesting indies.

          Depending on how it does and whats included, I may be very tempted to buy a steamOS. I might even stick windows on it too, unless valve finds a way to make all games on the system run on steamOS even though they weren’t made for linux. Honestly I don’t want to massively limit my gaming choices because of linux. For me, the appeal is having a cheap computer built for me (as I have no idea what I’m doing) which I will plug into a monitor and a KB&M and play like a normal PC.

      • Baines says:

        CyberPowerPC and iBuyPower are questionable, perhaps simply because they sell machines at prices cheaper than their competition.

        Some people say that they’ve gotten perfectly fine PCs from those companies. Others say the assembly is shoddy and cost is shaved in other non-name brand areas. I’ve never bought from them, so I can’t say how true claims of shoddy/cheap work are. (Some of the people who knock those companies are adamant self-builders, who can have a vested interest in finding and/or inflating issues with any pre-build companies.)

        • Eldiran says:

          Thanks for the responses. Now I’m definitely going to keep my eye on these. Provided they hold up to scrutiny, seems like they’ll be a great solution for people not inclined to build their own PC.

        • Dogsbody says:

          Bought my current rig from them in December of 2011, it has been *absurdly* reliable. Like running multiple hours every day since then, with a single OS reinstall needed. And mine was a pretty complicated build, SSD for the OS, dual ATI’s, etc. Went with’m because I wanted a warranty and the parts list was pretty close to building it myself.

          Then, my buddy bought one, and his liquid cooling failed and leaked everywhere, and some other component (mobo maybe) failed. Had to send it back twice, but, the one he finally got back has been good since that.

          So… YMMV, but I don’t think there’s another service out there that will let you customize as thoroughly, build what you come up with, and still give you a decent warranty.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            Multiple ‘hours’ per day is NOT an indication of reliability, merely perfunctory operational ability.

            Mine has been up for 6 weeks solid now.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Multiple hours?

            My personal Linux system, assembled in 2005 or so, has been operating continuously (save city power failures) for 8 years now. At one point one of the drives developed problems and I replaced the drive in the array. I had shut down for that because I don’t have hotswap harware.

            My gaming windows machine has been operating for over two years, mostly 24 hours a day, without any problems at all. It reboots more often (Microsoft updates + windows file semantics fail) but I’m not really sure what this ‘reinstall’ concept is.

            Why did I type that, because you damned them with faint praise. That’s all I’m saying.

        • Lowbrow says:

          I would never buy from iBuypower. They screwed me over when I bought a PC from them in 04, and their customer service was crap.

    • JeCa says:

      CyberPowerPC – $499 and up (£305+)
      CPU: AMD/Intel Core i5 CPU
      Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 270/Nvidia GTX 760
      RAM: 8GB
      Storage: 500GB

      Depending on which CPU they put in there, and if you’ll be able to plop in another 4 gigs of RAM if so desired, that doesn’t look too terrible a deal to me for a well designed, pre-assembled PC. In fact, depending on the CPU and what that + sign means it’ll be both cheaper and more powerfull than a PS4.

      EDIT: well, ninjae’d by about 8 people, ah well… It’s actually a shame valve didn’t start by revealing the low price current gen comparable machines. Now news outlets who like big numbers will probably just report on the top-of-the-line 2 Titan setups, making most potential customers completely missing the point. As commenters above me pointed out too, there’s also the risk CyberPowerPC combines a really bad PSU with a really terrible factory warranty, making that an ultimately worse deal than a PS4 anyway.

    • Dorako says:

      I don’t think these really targeted at anyone who knows how to install another OS. They’re probably for people who want things to be easy and straightforward and are okay spending more to get that.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    “You can of course pop Windows on a Steam Machine easily, but you’ll be missing out on most of the functionality that makes them unique, which feels rather like missing the point.” – Why is that? Small, overpriced PCs recently become `trendy`.

    • Erinduck says:

      “You can of course pop Windows on a Steam Machine easily, but you’ll be missing out on most of the functionality that makes them unique, which feels rather like missing the point.”

      …Like what, exactly? It seems everything in SteamOS will be in Steam Big Picture Mode too.

      edit: That wasn’t supposed to be a reply. Weird.

      • Anorak says:

        There are quite a few tweaks to the Linux Kernel, one of the most important ones (I believe) being that it’s now a Real Time kernel. How much difference this makes I really have no idea.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Linux isn’t really an RTOS, like QNX or VxWorks; it’s just been hacked about a bit in various ways over the years to make it do impressions of one. (Nor is normal desktop Windows, for that matter. Nor should either necessarily be for desktop use, although I can see an argument that games have soft real-time requirements.)

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            RTLinux meets most of the requirements.
            Of course, most Linux is not RTLinux.

  3. araczynski says:

    i think it was a dumb move to just make this nothing more than another computer by any random manufacturer, with seemingly any random configuration, locked down by another OS that nobody really needs.

    they should have come up with a single set of specs.

    there’s a big reason why consoles are more popular than pc’s for gaming; you buy a single box, you know everyone else has that box, and your experience will be the same as everyone else’s, same graphics, nothing’s inferior, nobody’s going to have a leg up on you in any way other than skill.

    this is just plain dumb. akin to offering to run the Chrome OS on everything from an ipod to the new iMac.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Yeah. As long as there isn’t one single primary model with a cost around that of consoles, while also being similarly graphically capable, I just can’t see this as something people are going to buy into much…

      • Anorak says:

        Aren’t they doing “tiers” or something? Where a steambox worth £300 is tier 4 (or whatever), and games are certified for certain tiers? I might have made that up.

    • HunterKing says:

      What about this is “locked down”? The whole idea is that it’s not locked down by Windows. It’s linux and you can still install Windows if you want.

      • LionsPhil says:

        By that logic, how is anything else locked down by Windows? I can buy PC components, or OS-less prebuilds from some manufacturers, and stick Linux on them if I want too. (And natch you can do that with most* Windows preinstall prebuilds, except then you’ve paid for an OS you don’t want.)

        * Pedantic caveat w.r.t. scope for secure EFI boot evil.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Not dumb at all. It creates healthy market competition, and the same model has already proven to work quite well if you look at Android.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Actually, it’s a brilliant strategy. Competition via passive consumer acceptance.

      Every PC with Steam on it increases Valve’s potential for revenue. If they can solidify the PC in the living room, specifically a box that will run Steam OS, then they are competing with consoles without having to build a closed-garden console, make a specific SDK, ship this SDK around to developers and publishers, pay and collect on licensing fees, etc., etc., etc. Essentially, all of the headaches that come with consoles are eliminated, yet Valve gets a chance to muscle in on the market of the PS4 and 360 for a fraction of the financial investment. The potential ROI is so high that it’s ludicrous. If they fail? They still lose a chunk of money, but nowhere near as bad as if they had failed launching an actual physical console.

      What’s interesting is that Steam OS is not direct competition. Valve is circumventing the current console model (which has been the standard since industry inception) and introducing a new business model. The idea of Steam OS is something I’ve talked about for years. As consoles become more and more like PCs, there will eventually be a point where “consoles” are nothing more than PCs with proprietary OSes. This is where consoles will eventually go. This is the eventual evolution, and it seems like Valve would rather try and make it happen than sit around waiting for it to happen.

    • P.Funk says:

      Oh yes, its so dumb to liberate themselves of that annoying console tech decay that makes it so that you have to keep making games look prettier while using 5 year old hardware that has to run above 30fps.

      Maybe its only dumb to people who haven’t a lick of reason outside of the conventional wisdom of their narrow perceived gaming reality.

      Its like saying if you can afford a better PC than me you shouldn’t be allowed to have better FPS than me and because of that everyone will hate SteamOS prebuilt boxes.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Smashbox says:

    Hehehe $6,000.

    People willing to muck around with Linux are the same people who are willing to put their PC together themselves and save $3,000.

    • mukuste says:

      I know my way around Linux pretty well, yet I have no interest whatsoever in building my own PC.

      Besides, the savings are usually massively overstated by the “you have to build your own PC or the world will crumble” crowd.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I agree that the savings are frequently overstated, but the one area where it’s absolutely still true is high-end gaming PCs, especially the ones that go well over $2000.

      • reyn78 says:

        It’s not about savings it’s about emotions:
        expectations when you order, joy to build, fear when something gets dropped or you have to actually force parts together, panic when it doesn’t start, relief when it does, irritation when searching for drivers, despair when you get BSODs out of nowhere that noone knows how to fix.
        Are you telling me that some console will give me the same experience? Never!

        • Baines says:

          panic when it doesn’t start, relief when it does, irritation when searching for drivers, despair when you get BSODs out of nowhere that noone knows how to fix.
          Are you telling me that some console will give me the same experience? Never!

          You obviously never owned an Xbox 360.

          • reyn78 says:

            You got me there Dear Sir. I spoke based on clearly misinformed statements of others in this thread that stated that using consoles is a land of hassle and trouble free experience.

          • Premium User Badge

            ffordesoon says:

            Ahaha. That made me smile.

          • P.Funk says:

            Except that if you wanted to crack your 360 open to try and fiddle with it you’d know that you’re basically invalidating your warranty.

            Computer components often give you warranty even if you overclock them.

        • mukuste says:

          Sorry, I have enough other stuff to worry about. I’d rather plunk down the $100 or whatever for someone experienced to do that for me. Better time/cost ratio, too.

          • reyn78 says:

            I don’t know how it works in your country, but around these parts, and speaking from experience of my friends only – this route usually leads to exactly same negative emotions but without fun of putting it together by yourself and plus irritation and sometimes feeling scammed.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          I’ve been building my own for about 10 years now. I’ve never had a problem. Well, save once where the mobo was set, by default, to reset every 45 seconds. (last time I ever buy a Gigabyte mobo; there were a lot of other issues, too)

          Decide on CPU. Find mobo that supports CPU. Look at Mobo specs for RAM. Find GPU.

          Case, HDDs and power supply I already have, but power is easy to spec out. Get a 650w and you’ll be fine for any single-card setup. IMO, just get a cheap case with handle. The material is largely irrelevant. The handle is essential. If you need new HDDs, you can get 1TB drives for dirt cheap, unless you demand a SSD.

          A lot of the bells and whistles that used to be crucial aren’t even needed for today’s PCs. Most CPUs run so cool and consistent that there’s no need to get aftermarket CPU coolers and over-sized case fans. Just use the stock. Water-cooling is nice if you’re an OC nut, but that’s the only reason because heat signatures are nearing insignificant with today’s hardware.

          Personally, I think building a PC nowadays is immensely easier than it used to be.

      • sophof says:

        It is the kind of thing that adds up over time imo. When building your own PC things generally are a bit more gradual. Smaller upgrades that keep you at the ideal price/quality point and a lot of parts that are reusable that would’ve normally be replaced. Based on what I’ve seen the average person buy, I honestly can say I believe I have saved thousands of euros over the last 10 years or so.

        My guess is that being tech savvy, you are better equipped to spot good deals and therefore the difference is a bit smaller for you. But the markup has traditionally been quite big on pre-built.

    • Billzkrieg says:

      Part of the point of SteamOS is there’s nothing to muck around with. Yes, it’s built on Debian but the finished OS is meant to be seemless and hassle free like a console OS.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        It’s a FULL Linux distro, fully operational. It simply defaults to ‘Big Picture Mode’.. You can change it back to the Linux desktop in the settings.

        • Billzkrieg says:

          I’m aware. Allow me to clarify: You don’t have to muck around with anything technical, unless you want to.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    Is that natty sofa cover included in the RRP?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Glad I’m not the only one whose main response to this was a desire to comment on sofa covers. Though personally I was going to state that I wasn’t that convinced by it!

  6. bstard says:

    The gaming PC for the living room, right. We also sell beer that makes you less annoying.

  7. Harold Finch says:

    These look very pricey, not really sure where they fit into the marketplace.

    • Baines says:

      They fit in the “I was going to buy a new PC anyway, so I might as well buy a SteamOS game machine that I can also use for regular Linux/Windows/whatever.”

      The $500 systems might also be trying to aim for console and casual gamers, but such buyers might be underwhelmed when they find their PC gaming experience doesn’t match the claims that they see from others online.

      The $6000 system is aimed at the “I want the most powerful system available and I have too much money” market. Companies like Alienware have been rather successful with cheaper “expensive” machines, so maybe there are people who are willing to drop $6000 on a “super” system just because they like the idea of having “the best”.

    • Lemming says:

      Looking at the specs for those touted as around the £300 mark, that’s more than enough grunt to play a decent Steam library and look better than any X1/PS4 game. That’s all that’ll matter to a lot of people.

  8. Text_Fish says:

    I’ve heard of Next: http://www.next.co.uk/

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      “This is the Next Directory do you have an order or an enquiry?”

      I hated working there, and the entire script is still burned into my head….. As it is for countless others that went through their doors for employment :(

  9. Billzkrieg says:

    I build my own PCs. I do most of my gaming with a mouse and keyboard on my PC. And ya know what? These boxes are incredibly exciting to me. One of the Alienware models is $500. It’s not remotely high-end, but it will definitely compete with a PS4 or an X1, it’s about the same size, and it looks very well built. I’d love to pick one of those up to throw in the entertainment center in the living room and be able to play on the big TV with proper 5.1.

    Could I build my own? Sure, I may even. But I totally see the appeal of picking one of these up instead of a console for those who may be interested in PC gaming but want the simplicity of the console experience. Yea, there’s a lot of expensive boutique PCs here. But there’s also some pretty good value.

    I’m also in favor of anything that gets more devs to create Linux builds of their games. I don’t have a problem with Windows, but I like the idea of a future where PC gaming isn’t restricted to a single OS. Choice is pretty great after all.

    Plus the Steam Machine controller looks like a hell of a lot better way to play FPS and RTS on the couch than with with a 360 controller or fussing with a wireless mouse and keyboard.

    • Harold Finch says:

      You won’t find any value. When have Alienware ever been good value?

      • Billzkrieg says:

        Since Dell them bought they’ve actually sold their PCs at reasonable prices. People have of course continued to hate them because they’re both stuck in the past and unable to comprehend that it’s always going to cost more to buy a prebuilt PC than to build one yourself.

        The $500 Alienware box is going to be Intel/nVidia based. Even if it’s just an i3 and a GTX 650 ti Boost, it’s still going to outperform consoles at 1080p. Throw that in a well designed 8x8x3″ enclosure that’s supposedly cool and quiet, and yea, that’s a pretty damn good value for a pre built machine.

        • Harold Finch says:

          You can go to somewhere like PC Specialist or Scan and get them to build the PC for you and the price comes in several hundred pounds cheaper than buying from Alienware. I’m all for the convenience of pre built but it comes a point when the price difference just gets silly. Alienware is still massively overpriced for what it is.

          I think you’re struggling with an i3 and a GTX 650 ti to be honest, doubt any cross platform AAA games that come out from now on will run at 1080p on that with any comfort.

          • Billzkrieg says:

            I’m not terribly familiar with those sites (American here), but looking over the prices at PC Specialist it looks like their pricing is very similarly to Alienware’s base models. I will admit Alienware definitely starts bending you over when you start upgrading from the default options though. $600 to upgrade from a GTX 680 to a 780 doesn’t even make sense.

            Not that any of that matters since I was talking specifically about their Steam machine, which thus far is looking to be a pretty good deal. And that’s all I was saying.

          • Premium User Badge

            Malibu Stacey says:

            I will admit Alienware definitely starts bending you over when you start upgrading from the default options though. $600 to upgrade from a GTX 680 to a 780 doesn’t even make sense.

            That’s not specific to Alienware though. That’s Dell’s standard operating procedure. I’ve seen them try to charge £300 to add a 256GB SSD to an order when a better SSD than they’re putting in the machine costs less than £150.

    • Moraven says:

      How long will it be able to compete tho? You will be getting more graphics and performance from new games on the PS4 in 5 years. While those same games will likely run like crap on a 2014 SteamBox.

      • Billzkrieg says:

        Well I am going into it with the knowledge that in 3 years or so I’ll likely be upgrading the GPU. For me, that’s easy enough as it will probably just inherit my gaming PCs old GPU when I upgrade that. Personally though I don’t have a lot of faith that the consoles will be pushing games all that impressively in 3 years. The last generation of consoles clearly did quite well considering how long they stretched their meager hardware. But they also targeted 720p and 30FPS, with little to no antialiasing and the equivalent of low-medium settings. Obviously as developers get better at optimizing for the PS4/X1 they’re going to push more from the hardware than they will on similar PC hardware, but it’s also not going to take much of an upgrade to get that Steambox to the point where it’s walking all over the consoles again.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      That is exactly my position. I’ve built plenty of gaming machines, but these days I have money but not the time orbpatience to research good looking, reliable, cool/quiet components.

      Happy to see Webhallen making one, they are a big chain in Scandinavia. They are friendly and replace broken products quickly and without fuss. I thought theirs was the best looking too, clean discrete design.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Matt_W says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why I’d want a Steam box. For the price of a full-fledged PC that can run any game I wish at full resolution, I can buy a PC that will only run a very few of the games I own, can’t stream Netflix, can’t edit a document, can’t even view images. Or look at it another way: for more than the cost of a current gen console, I can get another console that plays all the same games I can already play on my PC, but doesn’t stream Netflix or Amazon videos (which constitute 80% of the use my PS3 gets) or play media or anything else useful. Who, exactly, is the target market here?

    • Wedge says:

      Eh wot? The only thing it can’t do without Windows installed is run Windows games (and it can probably do some of that with with fiddling, but anyways). Everything else a PC can do, it can do (being a PC), and costs the same as one of the new consoles (for an equivalent hardware model).

      I do wish they hadn’t released so many of the stupid $1000+ machines, can’t really see how those are different than the crap already available, but with a Steam branding.

      • Premium User Badge

        Matt_W says:

        The point of the Steam box is to make it work like a console. You’re sitting on your couch holding a controller in your hand. You want a Netflix app and Hulu app and Youtube app, etc like consoles do. Such does not exist in the current version of the SteamOS interface. Even if you exit out to the Debian desktop (to access which you have to enable from Steam interface settings; it defaults to disabled) it is probably not trivial to watch Netflix because Netflix requires Silverlight, for which there is no Linux support. There are workarounds, but you have to install software to make it work and Valve has locked down the application repositories for the SteamOS distributions. Again, there are further workarounds, but by now you have to be a Linux power user and you’re definitely not sitting on your couch with controller in hand anymore.

        • Kageru says:

          Netflix is dumping its dependency silverlight, partly because I believe it’s being discontinued.

          But I’m sure part of Steams plan is getting the apps that make sense on a console to support it. They’re smart enough to know it’s the software experience that will sell the platform. And there’s no reason those apps can’t run on linux, and probably will if the steam machine is estimated to shift some units.

          And really it’s also in their interests I would think. Availability on an open platform makes it harder for Microsoft to make the streaming experience proprietary and monetized.

    • P.Funk says:

      The point is that in short order with enough start up users it’ll force all the downsides of using Linux to disappear. Valve is going to be doing a lot of the early start up work themselves, basically investing in the enterprise of Linux gaming and with that it’ll drive the desire of the other various home entertainment services to adapt to serve Linux as well as it serves anyone else.

      Do consumers really have no vision? I guess they don’t. But there are enough people with some to know that there is an investment to make here. In a few years we’re probably going to see all the detractors disappear and you’ll be left with nothing but a bunch of conveniences like “none of that crap you have to deal with with your Xbone”.

  11. BarryK says:

    “You can of course pop Windows on a Steam Machine easily, but you’ll be missing out on most of the functionality that makes them unique, which feels rather like missing the point.”

    You won’t really be missing any functionality, all the features coming to steamOS, like game streaming, are coming to the desktop clients (on Windows, Linux and OS X) as well. With Windows you’ll just have to drag a steam big picture mode shortcut to the startup folder to get virtually the exact same experience as SteamOS. Well except most games will run natively as well

    • Premium User Badge

      Matt_W says:

      Most games? Are there any games on Steam that don’t run on Windows?

    • Baines says:

      Valve is allegedly looking at improving performance of Linux games running on SteamOS, though interpretations of what that exactly means vary.

      Theoretically, it could mean that running a game through SteamOS could see better performance than running its Windows counterpart. With the efforts and money that some spend to just get an extra frame or two per second, that could be enough of a difference for some.

  12. Lev Astov says:

    Oh dear lord… Look at the Origin PC one’s specs:

    Origin PC Chronos – TBD
    CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K (3.9 to 4.6 GHz)
    Graphics: 2 x 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX Titans

    Yeah, that’s two Titans. That’s gonna be expensive.

    • Harold Finch says:

      How on earth are they going to keep that cool in a small form factor.

    • staberas says:

      Thats a 0,5 LargePixel Colliders keeping even that cooled is a challenge

  13. Syme says:

    As a console gamer that’s been shifting more towards PC, but is too scared/bored by the idea of building my own PC I thought these boxes were going to be perfect for me but I’m still left quite alienated. I was hoping it would be a cheap er and easier alternative to doing that but looking at the prices, the hassle with windows functionality, and having to weigh up the various different specifications it’s not looking that much simpler.

    My PS3 is having less games produced for it, my laptop is only really able to run simple indie games and retro stuff (and even then it can be a stretch) But I still don’t know what I’m going to do next.

    • Premium User Badge

      Matt_W says:

      Just buy a pre-built PC. I have built many many PCs over the years, but my last home purchase was a pre-built Dell that I’ve been very happy with. Dell’s Alienware PCs have dropped in price so that they are fairly reasonable now: you can get a low-end X51 for $700 and a somewhat higher-end one for $1300.

    • Harold Finch says:

      Go to somewhere like PC Specialist or Scan, much better value than pre built.

    • P.Funk says:

      At the end of the day if you’re alienated by the need to make choices then you really don’t want SteamOS.

      Basically thats what you’re looking at, choices, and if thats boring or anxiety provoking then you are exactly the person that marketing wants. Someone who wants a way out of making value based decisions by listening to a jingle..

  14. reyn78 says:

    I hate you. You actually made me want one of these now. I was close to buying a console, this just might do the trick.
    EDIT: Was supposed to be a reply to Blietzkrieg comment

    • Billzkrieg says:

      Well you have to consider what’s the best option for you of course. I’ll still inevitably end up with both consoles for their exclusives and to play multiplayer titles with my non-PC gaming friends. You really need to consider that buying into Steam Machines right now is a bit of a gamble in Valve’s ability to push publishers and developers to create Linux builds of their games. I have a lot of faith that it’s going to happen, and I have a lot of faith that Valve are the company to make it happen. If I’m wrong though, it does leave me with a box running a fairly useless fork of Debian that can only play a fraction of my Steam library. At that point it’s pretty much only good for streaming from my primary gaming PC unless I install Windows on it. Personally I’m ok with that.

  15. InternetBatman says:

    So much for the tier system. They’re reproducing the problems of android going into a far more mature market.

    • timzania says:

      Not to pick on you specifically but it’s an interesting point that’s 180 degrees turned around. Actually not a single one of Android’s problems are being reproduced here.

      Android’s fragmentation problems are
      1. Form factor differences: it is hard to design a proper GUI for a screen and touch interface that can be a wide variety of sizes and physical resolutions. This won’t apply to a game device that runs on your TV since the resolutions are standardized and most games are designed to be played on a TV-style device.
      2. OS version differences: Android updates are controlled by manufacturers and (mostly) carriers, who are not interested in OS updates so most Android phones are never updated to new major versions. Even worse, many manufacturers have implemented their own software on top of Android which can create further issues. Valve will control the software much as it does with Steam, so all Steam Machines are likely to be running the same OS version (much like XBox/PS devices).
      3. RAM: Especially early in its life RAM on mobile devices was quite expensive (in terms of physical space as well as cost) so many devices are severely RAM-constrained. When it comes to compatibility RAM is the one universal performance spec. All of these devices have 8GB RAM minimum which will be enough for this gaming generation (matching the consoles).

      A wide spectrum of graphics chips or CPUs is nothing compared to these problems.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It may also avoid the manufacturer shovelware problem Android (and Windows) have suffered, depending on licensing. And even if adding extra stuff to the underlying Debian install is allowed (if so, it’s technically trivial), presumably fiddling with the front-and-centre Big Picture experience isn’t, if only because so far I don’t think we’ve seen any clues to Steam adding OEM-y-fiddling support.

  16. Shieldmaiden says:

    I thought the Steam Machine thing was a great idea, but I think they’ve screwed up the execution. As other people have said, if it was a single box that was on par with current consoles for simplicity, that would have been genius, but all these machines are just going to confuse people.

    • Wedge says:

      Yeah I wish they weren’t letting all the boutique builders in on this to sell their insanely expensive and overbuilt machines that offer no value. Sends the exact wrong message, and it’s a shame because things like the CyberPower machine look like they’re actually posting something that would be a good deal to get someone started on PC gaming.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I knew we were going to see a mess like this when Valve announced they were partnering with multiple boutique builders for the Steambox.

      They should have kept it simple, now they’ve alienated a substantial portion of the market (i.e. the console gamers) they were aiming for in the first place.

  17. HunterKing says:

    The big failing of this is that people still don’t know what the idea behind these is. I interpret it to be

    To put PC gaming on your couch
    To make PC gaming more accessible by having a “seal of approval” that lets you know what computers are reasonably game-capable.
    To drive linux compatibility a little further (and thus allow a Windows alternative)

    I interpret it to NOT be:
    To squash Xbone and PS4 in the console market

    • Viceroy Choy says:

      Ding. Steamboxs are not going to kill the console market and aren’t meant to.

      [E]: Lower end Steamboxs are also meant to be a PC supplement, used to stream non-compatible games.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        I assumed that would be the purpose of the cheap machines too, but they are too expensive for that. If you are looking to stream from your PC to your computer, it should be looking at AppleTV style prices, not something that is equivelant to buying a generous 360/PS3 bundle or the price of a Xbone/PS4 in a year or so.

        I definitely think that farming these out to multiple manufacturers is a bad idea. The Steam box is nothing more than a badge of approval that will only appeal to those already buying pre-built machines. I also have to question how this is a good deal for the consumer; a regular pre-built computer is always going to take a bit of a cut for putting it all together, but these will also be paying a cut to Valve (unless they are giving the Steam badge away for free – possible considering it will be their store everyone will be greated with on boot up.)

        • Viceroy Choy says:

          Yeah, the Steambox messaging seems to be all over the place.

  18. reyn78 says:

    It seems people forget that these machines are supposed to run PC versions of games – pair such “console level Steambox” with QHD TVs some maniacs would buy and listen to the whine that Crysis X does’t run in Ultra in native resolution…. That is the logic I think.
    Isn’t every PC title graphically superior to its console counterpart (just the question of resolution not even going into details).

    • Premium User Badge

      bills6693 says:

      Depends on your PC, doesn’t it.

      Maybe with the new consoles, but with the now ‘last gen’ 360 and PS3, if you put comparable hardware in a PC it would be terrible. Devs are able to squeeze amazing performance out because on a console you’re not optimizing for limitless combinations of hardware, you know exactly what the hardware will be in the console.

      To get a PC to run something as graphically impressive as a console you need better hardware than the console – but since hardware console isn’t that high-end most of these machines will be better.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        According to 4A Games, you can squeeze roughly twice as much performance out of console hardware as of analogous PC components. The reasons are that there is a fixed configuration and also lower-level access to the hardware.

  19. Darth Gangrel says:

    “the Webhallen build looks like a fridge” So… no problems with cooling then?

  20. Oberoth says:

    Some of these are great for people pushing for small form factor PCs or console players that want to jump to console but lack the confidence to build a rig themselves, but SteamOS support is going to be what makes or breaks this initiative. I’m not sure the big developers/publishers are going to port their games to Linux.

  21. Lemming says:

    For me, everything is hanging on the quality of the streaming tech. I’m happy to buy the low-end £300 job for that reason, but I need to see it in action first.

  22. Viceroy Choy says:

    Falcon Northwest’s Tiki Steambox is $1,800 to $6,000. Why on earth would I not just buy a regular SFF PC at that point?

  23. Solidstate89 says:

    You can of course pop Windows on a Steam Machine easily, but you’ll be missing out on most of the functionality that makes them unique

    What functionality is that, exactly? I agree it’s redundant, but you can get all the same functionality of SteamOS by using Steam’s Big Picture mode on Windows.

    • Cockie says:

      Well, unless you start register-editing your pc (which the average person can’t and shouldn’t do) I don’t think you can boot and start steam big picture mode without using a keyboard + mouse at some point, while a steam machine does that automatically.

  24. DanMan says:

    What’s with all the tower cases? They’ll never pass the home inspector (aka. wife).

  25. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    Nice to see that the pictured Alienware box shows their design sensibilities have now moved into the early ’00s at least, instead of hanging around with 90s badosity.

  26. XhomeB says:

    Valve are making sooooo many mistakes when it comes to the SteamBox concept it’s not even funny, it’s as if they’re deliberately attempting to sabotage their own initiative.
    Where to begin?

    – Why is every single manufacturer allowed to design their own case? It’ll do nothing but confuse people, SteamBox should have its own, unique, easily recongnizable design, I’d have expected three variations at most (for low-end, medium and high-end Steam models)

    – Speaking of models… They really should have settled on two, or three hardware configurations at most to ensure some kind of standardisation. Again, that would make purchasing SteamBoxes much more justifiable, as your average, computer-illiterate Joe would have an idea what he’s getting.

    – SteamOS has “I’m just an idea and nothing more at this point” written all over it. It’s a good thing it exists and it might (emphasis: might) end up being widely adopted two-three years from now, but AT THE MOMENT whoever purchases a SteamBox won’t be able to play like 80-90% of the games from their Steam library. And that means these things will be gathering dust under TVs for the forseeable future.

    – No exclusives (SteamOS exclusives would be a bad idea for everyone involved, but notable PC exclusives created solely for Steam on Windows/SteamOS would help sell these toys).

    I might be mistaken, but taking all these missteps into account – SteamBox will be a massive flop, it already reeks of wasted potential (multiple hardware configurations being the biggest mistake).

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Those are missteps if you think that the goal of Steam machines is to compete with the consoles. However, if you consider Valve’s objective to make a viable alternative to Windows PCs, should Microsoft keep screwing up, then it all falls into place.

      – PC gamers are not at all confused by cases.
      – Previous attempts at making fixed PC models did not gain any traction.
      – Valve should not alienate PC gamers by withholding games from them.

  27. derbefrier says:

    I think people are too short sighted when criticizing these steam boxes. Sure in the short term they wont make any big splash in the industry but as the user base (hopefully) slowly grows over the next few years so will 3rd party interest. Once 3rd party developers start seeing an opportunity to make money off these things they will start to seriously consider linux ports of their games. At least this is my thinking. The Steam Box isnt some get rich quick scheme by valve to suddenly get all PC gamers and console gamers onto one system(as the common question is “Who is this for?”) ITs to get into the console market, which will take time. people are not seeing the Forrest through the trees here.

  28. rfa says:

    Do these prices include the controller? How much is just a controller?

    Until the SteaMachine includes “proper” HTPC software (ie XBMC) it won’t have any reason to be under my TV. I’m building one anyway.

    • jonahcutter says:

      “How much is just a controller?”

      Exactly what I’m interested in.

      Can a controller be purchased one it’s own and will it work on a Windows PC? If so, how much?

      And any chance the Steam controller will eventually be usable with PS4/3 and Xbone/360?

      • uh20 says:

        steam controller working on an xbox 1 would be the coolest thing to never ever have a chance of happening, business hates each other, that’s why.

        the controllers do however have legacy/steam support (which are both cross platform)
        so yes, if valve is not insane/ two-faced maniacs (same thing) the controller will work on all 3 OS’s and will be around $70 each, giving or taking 15 dollers, considering this is a touch-screen enabled device

  29. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    Valve is playing the long game, and I love it.