Valve has made their presence known at this years CES in a big way. Stealing the show on day 2, Valve announced a range of partners that will be licensed Steam Box distributors. These partners all worked off the initial Valve reference/prototype box and came up with some pretty awesome looking consoles.
Thus far, the only third parties we know of that’re making Steam Machines are Alienware, Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, Origin PC, Gigabyte, Materiel.net, Webhallen, Alternate, Next, Zotac and Scan Computers.
A Steam Machine is just a computer that runs SteamOS and ships with a Steam Controller. It doesn’t even need a Steam logo on the box. The specs, the features, the size and design are all at the discretion of the manufacturer.
Let’s take a look at some of the CES 2014 – Valve Steam Boxes that have already been revealed (These Steam Boxes are still being announced as we speak):
Alienware Steam Machine
I would be pretty confident if Alienware is behind my console, designing some of the coolest looking machines ever. This is arguable being presented as Valve’s flagship Steam OS device. With a 8″ by 8″ square design and roughly 3″ tall, the chassis is ultra-compact. It comes equipped with two USB 3.0 ports on the front, but on the back, it will ship with an optical audio connector,and an ethernet jack.
Most notably, like the Xbox One, the Alienware Steam Machine will have both an HDMI input and an HDMI output. While neither Valve nor Alienware have disclosed their plans for the HDMI passthrough, its inclusion suggest that both Alienware’s box and the Linux-based Steam OS could support integrated TV feeds or other HD sources — perhaps even a game console.
iBuyPower was actually the first third-party manufacturer to announce a Steam Machine partnership with Valve. Despite prior mentions of an AMD processor, the SBX will allegedly now come in Intel or AMD configurations. The GPU in the SBX will supposedly be a 2GB AMD R9 270. No word on memory or storage options, yet.
Origin’s CHRONOS Steam Machine
The Origin Chronos is actually based upon an existing piece of hardware. But the Chronos sets itself apart for its potential power–Origin is offering compatibility for dual Nvidia GeForce Titan GPUs. And just in case your Steam library is full of hundreds of games–oh, those holiday sales–you can even configure your Chronos with up to 14TB of storage.
Digital Storm’s Bolt II Steam Machine
Valve’s Gabe Newell mentioned Steam OS is currently compatible with around 250 games. Of course, if you’re a PC gamer, there’s probably going to be plenty of Windows games you would still like to play on your Steam Machine. Digital Storm’s Bolt II approaches this problem by offering dual booting into either OS. For all intents and purposes, the Bolt II is actually a high-end gaming rig–just look at the price.
CyberPowerPC Steam Machine
CyberPowerPC announced two Steam Machines today, dubbed “Steam Machine A” and “Steam Machine I.” The devices have a decidedly console-like appearance, and the specs will more or less determine the end price. While both machines feature 500Gb of storage and 8GB of DDR3 RAM, subtle differences in the GPU and CPU provide a $200 price gap.
* Update: The following brochures ave been released as well, giving us the prices and specifications:
Valve is blasting their way into the living room. While they notably admit that they do not see themselves as a competitor to the Xbox One and the PS4, we all know where this is going. Currently they want to focus on giving current customers a living-room gaming experience.