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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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46. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 12:26 HorrorScope
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 11:11:
MattyC wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 08:34:
I guess it isn't that expensive, but 16GB of RAM seems a bit over the top to me. I cannot imagine needing that much.
I think the point is more that there's a minimum to work with. nVidia's next GPU (Maxwell) will support unified memory for accessing system RAM, so maybe that's the end goal?

We'll have to see what that does to performance.

As for 16 gigs. I have 4 gig setup using PrimoCache, current usage 48% of my calls as being called from system ram vs HD. 12's a nice place for O/S and usage. 4 not to bad for the ramdisk-cache.
 
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45. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 12:23 HorrorScope
 
NKD wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 10:32:
HorrorScope wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 10:13:
fujiJuice wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 09:13:
I think many of you are forgetting this is just a prototype.

We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests.

I'm not sure how anyone can be forgetting it, but since their Linux has superior performance than a windows pc, why not a low spec'd PC to test with and impress?

Because no OS/driver combination is going to turn a low end PC into a mid-range PC performance-wise. Sending out prototypes for testing that can't run most games comfortably would be a disaster.

Well another reason then of not needing it. But they were touting how much better it was performance wise. Good thing I wasn't born last night.
 
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44. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 12:02 Redmask
 
dj LiTh wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 07:15:
Well first off the market for titan's and 780's isnt really all that big. Second they do have to buy in bulk to get discounts.

Losing money making hardware comes from large scale manufacturing costs typically. The market for a box with a Titan is not huge but it's very, very profitable. They don't even appear to be selling the hardware themselves, it will likely just be retail partnerships with OEMs and third parties. Your other prediction doesn't appear to be based on anything at all.

If all else fails and the living room venture is a bust then we get an alternative gaming operating system, I don't really see a loss for the consumer here. This certainly won't put Valve out of business either, those concerns are pretty dubious given that they are not really making any hardware aside from a controller.
 
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43. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 11:33 killer_roach
 
siapnar wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 10:56:
MattyC wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 08:34:
I guess it isn't that expensive, but 16GB of RAM seems a bit over the top to me. I cannot imagine needing that much.
I have 16 gb and yes, it's overkill. 8 will suffice for pretty much everything.
The difference is negligible

That being said, for the cost that RAM is anymore, why not go 16?
 
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42. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 11:11 theyarecomingforyou
 
MattyC wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 08:34:
I guess it isn't that expensive, but 16GB of RAM seems a bit over the top to me. I cannot imagine needing that much.
I think the point is more that there's a minimum to work with. nVidia's next GPU (Maxwell) will support unified memory for accessing system RAM, so maybe that's the end goal?
 
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41. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 10:56 siapnar
 
MattyC wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 08:34:
I guess it isn't that expensive, but 16GB of RAM seems a bit over the top to me. I cannot imagine needing that much.
I have 16 gb and yes, it's overkill. 8 will suffice for pretty much everything.
The difference is negligible
 
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40. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 10:32 NKD
 
HorrorScope wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 10:13:
fujiJuice wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 09:13:
I think many of you are forgetting this is just a prototype.

We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests.

I'm not sure how anyone can be forgetting it, but since their Linux has superior performance than a windows pc, why not a low spec'd PC to test with and impress?

Because no OS/driver combination is going to turn a low end PC into a mid-range PC performance-wise. Sending out prototypes for testing that can't run most games comfortably would be a disaster.
 
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39. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 10:13 HorrorScope
 
fujiJuice wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 09:13:
I think many of you are forgetting this is just a prototype.

We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests.

I'm not sure how anyone can be forgetting it, but since their Linux has superior performance than a windows pc, why not a low spec'd PC to test with and impress?
 
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38. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 09:13 fujiJuice
 
I think many of you are forgetting this is just a prototype. Straight from the information on Steam.

"If you guys are delivering an OS to hardware manufacturers, why is Valve also making its own box?

We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors."
 
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37. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 08:34 MattyC
 
I guess it isn't that expensive, but 16GB of RAM seems a bit over the top to me. I cannot imagine needing that much.  
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36. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 07:15 dj LiTh
 
Redmask wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 22:56:
dj LiTh wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 19:05:
They are going to lose so much money...

I don't know why you think this, they aren't really manufacturing much, they did a few partnerships and some original design on the controller. They are also starting small on purpose instead of going too big too fast which is the biggest mistake companies make in manufacturing.

Well first off the market for titan's and 780's isnt really all that big. Second they do have to buy in bulk to get discounts. Third
It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase
is just going to be flat out wrong.
 
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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,
Ray
 
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34. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 02:39 Simon Says
 
jdreyer wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 16:59:
nin wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 15:49:
GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660

Nice!


I could see a 780, but a Titan? Really?

Maybe I'm off base, but I wonder what % of machines that boutique builders ship have Titans installed.

My guess is here is that they're basing themselves on their steam surveys of hardware running steam, quite simply and producing tiers based on their surveys.
 
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33. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 02:13 El Pit
 
Cutter wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 01:57:
My big concern is this will give devs/pubs even less incentive to port properly as a UI is concerned because they'll just tell people to use a gamepad.

THIS! I'm afraid that this could happen. Want to play our game on your pc? Use a console controller!

Well, that would be it. That would stop me from buying new games. I will never turn my pc into a high resolution console by using a console controller. I'd have to play the old games (Good Old Games? ).
 
Consoles? I owned two: a Pong clone and an Atari 2600. And that's it.
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32. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 01:57 Cutter
 
My big concern is this will give devs/pubs even less incentive to port properly as a UI is concerned because they'll just tell people to use a gamepad.
 
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31. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 01:37 Lit_Reflex001
 
jacobvandy wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 00:40:
Anonymous wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 23:58:
The problem? Linux. I don't think Valve would appreciate you doing your beta testing on a different OS.

That is why you would get one, you know. It's not your machine.

You don't know them very well:

Valve wrote:
Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

Well! Isn't that nice?
 
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30. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 01:35 DarkCntry
 
Krizzen wrote on Oct 5, 2013, 01:00:
This is so bad. It's like Valve thinks they can negotiate bulk deals on hardware and sell a shitload of it to consumers. Valve has no market share. I mean, it's like they think they have an entire army of developers actively developing for their platform. Who wants to sell on Steam? Not to mention it's such a closed platform. Then they have the nerve to price it so damn high.

Perhaps it is because I am currently running a 101 fever and stocked up on codine, or maybe it's related to lack of tone in written word, but I seriously hope this is sarcasm...
 
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29. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 01:00 Krizzen
 
This is so bad. It's like Valve thinks they can negotiate bulk deals on hardware and sell a shitload of it to consumers. Valve has no market share. I mean, it's like they think they have an entire army of developers actively developing for their platform. Who wants to sell on Steam? Not to mention it's such a closed platform. Then they have the nerve to price it so damn high.  
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28. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 00:40 jacobvandy
 
Anonymous wrote on Oct 4, 2013, 23:58:
The problem? Linux. I don't think Valve would appreciate you doing your beta testing on a different OS.

That is why you would get one, you know. It's not your machine.

You don't know them very well:

Valve wrote:
Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.
 
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27. Re: Steam Hardware Prototype Details Oct 5, 2013, 00:05 jdreyer
 
They are really going to have to work closely with Nvidia and AMD to get the Linux drivers stable and fast. That's really the key here. Making Linux versions of games has been making decent inroads lately, but Valve should also be considering pouring resources into WINE so that people feel they won't have any issues playing legacy Windows-only games.  
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