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Steam Hardware Prototype Details

The Steam Community website has more details on plans for Steam hardware and the prototypes they plan on shipping to testers. Here's a bit on the update from the Steam hardware bunker:

So for our own first prototype Steam Machine ( the one we're shipping to 300 Steam users ), we've chosen to build something special. The prototype machine is a high-end, high-performance box, built out of off-the-shelf PC parts. It is also fully upgradable, allowing any user to swap out the GPU, hard drive, CPU, even the motherboard if you really want to. Apart from the custom enclosure, anyone can go and build exactly the same machine by shopping for components and assembling it themselves. And we expect that at least a few people will do just that. (We'll also share the source CAD files for our enclosure, in case people want to replicate it as well.)

And 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. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions.

Here are the specifications for Valve's 300 prototypes.

The 300 prototype units will ship with the following components: 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

As a hardware platform, the Steam ecosystem will change over time, so any upgrades will be at each user's discretion. In the future we'll talk about how Steam will help customers understand the differences between machines, hardware strengths and weaknesses, and upgrade decisions.

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35. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 06:16 Ray Marden
I will have to wait and see, but I am skeptical just like many others.

The form factor and new controller design are interesting, but this will not be a direct console competitor nor does it appear to some fantastical reimagining of the PC.

On the PC front, my fear is a dumbing down of the PC's capabilities and the decrease in customization from Valve's presumed intent to consolidate everything into a handful of SKUs. At a certain point, if my "PC" system becomes less robust, the console systems keep moving towards a classic PC architecture, and resolutions/capabilities stagnate (such as Carmack's love for 1080p...,) I could see a future console, especially one that finally accepts and properly utilizes a mouse and keyboard option, might be a better option based upon price and performance.

Otherwise, Valve's OS better show amazing, profound performance differences, though past operating systems have not shown this ability. I am very, very interested in streaming my PC and/or consoles to different screens, but I don't currently see a point or feel any type of hook for the Steam systems. I already have a nice system that I can customize endlessly on a whim and I am able to do so for a relatively lean cost due to my ability to change out individual components on a whim, by having a wide range of options and being able to select the one with an exceptional price to performance ratio, and/or delaying purchase over a one or two week period and watching for brief online deals from numerous retails that may last only a day or even a few hours.

I can partially see this as Valve's attempt as an upscale console - start out with the consoles, then learn to do more or want for more customization or graphical fidelity with our mini-PC - but there already seem to be good alternatives to this. This might a good option for the rich/lazy/uninformed people that buy Alienware systems or as a response to graphics cards vendors that are trying to sell you three or four GPU system, but it doesn't initially seem price efficient nor is it appealing to me as a system builder. I would need a lot more to give up my current system and I certainly won't buy two high end systems, to say nothing of the "average" gaming consumer that is locked out by cost from buying anything more than a console.
Screw it unless the price is there and the OS numbers are insane.
Skeptical and waiting,
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