The Steam Machine Prototype is mighty powerful and expensive

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 5, 2013
Updated • Oct 5, 2013

Valve's Steam Machine will join the fight for the living room and compete with Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Wii U and a bunch of (mostly) Android-based gaming consoles. Unlike those other gaming systems, Valve has designed the Steam Machine to run PC games. While information are scarce at this point in time, we do know that the box is using a custom version of Linux called SteamOS that can stream or run PC games from Steam's library.

One interesting aspect is that users can create their own SteamOS systems, just like they can install Windows or Linux on computer systems, and that multiple hardware vendors will offer Steam Machines for purchase.

Focus right now is on the prototype that Valve announced about a week ago. The company is currently accepting applications on Steam and will pick 300 random users who will receive the prototype as beta testers.

Yesterday, Valve revealed the hardware specs of the prototype, and boy is it one powerful machine.

  • 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 GDDR5 (GPU)
  • Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
  • Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
  • Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

It is a high-end system, and since it is a PC more or less, fully upgradable. Users can replace hardware in it, for instance the cpu or the storage, but also the motherboard if they really want to. The options to customize the Steam Machine, or even built your own version of it, is certainly one that appeals to users who have built PCs before.

Valve has not revealed anything else about the prototype they have created, but from its specs alone, it will certainly play all PC games without issues. It may be a bit on the loud side of things though, but that remains to be seen.

Since it is possible to customize the hardware, it is theoretically possible to replace system fans for example, to reduce the noise generation of the system when it is running under load.

A quick cost calculation on Newegg for the hardware mentioned returned the following.

  • GPU between $200 (GTX660) to $1000 (Titan GTX780).
  • CPU between $300 (Intel i7-4770) to $120 (i3)
  • RAM about $150
  • Storage depends a lot on the model used. A Seagate 1TB + 8GB SSD Hybrid hard drive is available for $129 for instance.
  • Power Supply available for $60 or more, depending on model.

Add to that the other requirements, motherboard, sound, case, and peripherals and you may end up with a system that costs about $2000. Depending on the hardware used, it may also be available for a lot less, especially if a GTX660 is built-into the device and not the Titan GTX780.

Closing Words

The Steam Machine prototype may or may not be available for sale in the future. It is used for testing, and since Valve plans to ship it with different hardware configurations to testers, it is likely that the company will sell Steam Machines with different hardware specs.

Would I buy a Steam Machine for the living room? No, I would not. I have my PC for that. I'm interested in the controller though, and may buy it just to check it out and see how good it is.


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  1. anon said on October 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    This wouldn’t fly with gamers if they don’t subsidize the thing (ala google’s nexus brand).

  2. dwarf_t0ssn said on October 6, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Yeah I sort of balked at the thought of how much a steambox might cost with a freaking Titan in it. Unless they get some deep volume discount for components I don’t see these things being all that competitive compared to….say….a purpose-built PC for the living room. I mean hell, 2 G’s can buy a lot of computer that can arguably do much more than the best steambox ever could…

    And that controller…..I have a bad feeling about it. They had better consider having a twin-stick version too.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

      I give them the benefit of the doubt in regards to the controller. It is Valve, and they usually know what they are doing.

  3. JohnMWhite said on October 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I imagine these are top of the line boxes for hardcore gamers, to show them the ultimate potential of a SteamBox. I hope it’s not an indication that this is all Valve is interested in, though. My 5 year old machine (with a somewhat newer GPU) can play the likes of Skyrim on full settings with very modest tweaking and can even run your Crysis-type games on fairly high settings. It’s starting to show its age at last, but that’s a pretty good lifespan for gaming these days. And I am a gamer, but not a hardcore one, so I want something simple but inexpensive that I can play the latest games on without throwing a couple of grand at horsepower that gets me a few more frames per second that I’ll never notice. Rich, dedicated gamers are going to buy and build their monster rigs regardless of Valve offering it in a cute box. I suspect Valve has a greater potential market out there for more casual gamers and people looking for a less expensive, more flexible upgrade path for their older media/game machine. Here’s hoping they’re not forgotten in the rush for power.

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