Valve’s First Steam Machine Prototype Is Crazy Powerful

Valve’s First Steam Machine Prototype Is Crazy Powerful

Valve’s first Steam Machine — the one it will be sending out to 300 beta users later this year — will be a super-high-end machine. And the specs are crazy impressive.

Valve has spilled a whole bunch of details on the first-ever Steam Machine, which the company officially announced last week. This one is a high-end, totally upgradeable box that Valve says won’t be for everyone. No word on price yet — and the final high-end Steam Machine might wind up looking different — but this prototype will be pretty damn powerful.

Here’s Valve with the breakdown:

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

Valve wants to be clear, here: this is going to be pricey. Not everyone will be able to afford one of the highest-end Steam Machines. Not to worry — there will be other options.

“So high-powered SteamOS living room machines are nice, and fun to play with, and will make many Steam customers happy,” Valve writes. “But there are a lot of other Steam customers who already have perfectly great gaming hardware at home in the form of a powerful PC. The prototype we’re talking about here is not meant to replace that. Many of those users would like to have a way to bridge the gap into the living room without giving up their existing hardware and without spending lots of money. We think that’s a great goal, and we’re working on ways to use our in-home streaming technology to accomplish it – we’ll talk more about that in the future. “

If you want to enter the beta, and you haven’t signed up yet, you can find full instructions here.


  • We’ll also share the source CAD files for our enclosure, in case people want to replicate it as well
    Legends! I will be putting my CNC milling machines to work.

  • Am I missing something, or does this just sound like… just a PC with a fancy case in your living room.

    • Your not missing anything…Except their own OS, expanded Big Picture mode, family sharing, in home streaming. That’s beauty of it. It supplements and expands on what you can already do. You’ll be able to access all the new stuff they’re adding on your existing rig…But “IF” you want to take advantage of the smaller form factor SteamBox you can buy one or build your own.

      • And not to mention it’ll have the “Steam Box” Label, so that’ll be a 50% price increase over building it yourself 😉

    • With a new controller and a new OS. But in essence yes that is what it is.
      The target market will be people who don’t know how to setup a PC connected to the TV as well as those people who think that a gaming PC has to cost $1,500 dollars to be able to run anything.

    • Yep you got it. But like Tigerion said with a new controller and new OS. Which also describes the Xbox One and PS4. The line between console and PC continues to blur.

      • Indeed you can, you can build a multi use OS system for that, however one that simply runs steam to run games reeks of being a waste of money tbh when you consider all the wasted opportunities when hooking it up to your tv. Streaming youtube, movies, music, everything else on the net…

  • ^^ Yeah unless they can partner with manufacturers and offer them at at least 40% less then what is the point?

  • Why does it need to be this powerful and expensive if it’s main purpose (for now) is to stream games. What Linux native game even needs a 660? If your thinking of buying this to become a PC gamer then build your own with Win7. Also the PSU seems a little low to power a Titan. I know recommended watts isn’t always accurate but that is 200 watts less.

    It’s just too expensive to even bother for a closed ecosystem. I doubt SteamOS will let you play Origin, Uplay and no DRM games. I’ll stick with my gaming PC and possibly next gen for now.

    • I think you’ve missed the point of this initial release which is concept testing. They’re going to release competitive budget versions as well and the idea to have pre-existing gaming pc’s streaming games to the box is a pretty innovative idea. Also a fully upgradeable console means being able to pick and choose what system suits you.

      • I know there will be budget versions. I don’t see the point in making high end versions now since it’s Linux based and it can’t play pretty much anything graphically demanding game now. Serious Sam 3 or Valve’s games are probably the most demanding games and they don’t need these specs to run smoothly.

  • Seems stupid, I can run a cable from my PC to the TV for the same effect with out spending thousands

    • Move gaming PC’s (and Steam) into the loungeroom and give people a console that’s much more flexible than anything else on the market. Not much to understand.

  • i think valve is doing something slightly different to its competitors – it recognises people want more from their consoles – better graphics/more storage/whatever – just upgradeability. so its playing to that demographic by having its hardware being whatever you want via the pc market, and giving you a polished os for free – it just locks you in to the steam walled garden, just like apple and itunes. quite smart actually – they dont have to enter the hardware market (beyond the beta test), they just have to show you how their vision can pan out and then people will rush to replicate with their own hardware choices. having built in good drivers for nvidia (and ati? cant remember if they were mentioned) means the os should work well with any reasonably new card and will drive sales for the gpu makers, incentivising them to make good drivers.

    its mainly streaming games for now, but in the future games with run either natively on their linux distro or will run via some abstracted compatibility layer like wine to intercept directx calls with near-to-hardware speeds.

    so for me, its a console plain and simple, no matter what hardware you use – its all about the os and game purchase choice.

    ladies and gentlemen, we have a fourth player in the market – one who saw the digital future well before the rest of them.

    • No we dont. It isnt a console. Its a pc for your living room. A largely unnecessary one. The majority of gamers dont give a damn about upgradability. The steambox is catering for a niche market. Most people just want good games.

      • I hate to break it to you, but all consoles are PC’s for your living room.

        And since when does PC not have good games? (For a fraction of the price through Steam I might add)

      • The majority of gamers dont give a damn about upgradability
        i disagree. why do people buy more storage then? and complain about graphics quality when displays get sharper? 4k tv’s are around the corner – even though the xbone and ps4 can output 4k, will that be at optimal fps?

        both the playstation and the xbox original catered for niche markets when they first launched – sega was still a stalwart of the console world when sony came to market with its cheaptastic console – people flocked to it over the dreamcast.

  • It seems a lot of people have missed the point. Valve are trying to cater to as many people as possible here: want a powerful gaming rig in your loungeroom? Done. Want a budget machine like all other consoles? Sure. The ability to upgrade whenever you want? Yep. Don’t see the point or already have a powerful rig in another room? How does a console you can stream your games to sound?

  • I like the idea of just having an HDMI patch from behind my main PC to the tv in the living room – wireless controller and Steam running in big picture mode.

  • Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

    How big is that compared to a.. I don’t know, a mini ATX case or a regular size case or a 360 standing up?

    • An X360 is 12.15 x 10.15 x 3.27. So the same width, slightly thinner and slightly deeper. Very close overall though.

      • which is why i am very intrigued – a powerful pc in a console sized footprint is a great achievement in and of itself…unless it runs hot and noisy

        • If they can make the steammachine that size and stylish (I dare say a PC, wether it looks good or not can be a bit intimidating for a regular console fan due to its size and different types of cases.) I could see the steammachine being successful assuming it brings out the games and maybe some exclusives to steam.
          However I reckon they shouldn’t have too many options to choose from when you go deciding what steammachine you want, for eg, if you saw 6 different versions of the xbox one, it might confuse some people.
          So steambox should have the standard 3, a low spec, medium, medium- high. I don’t say high or extreme because if you are a vivid pc gaming to begin with, you would probably have resources wether it be a friend or yourself who can change the parts to make the steammachine more powerful.
          Thoughts on how many different steammachine versions their should be?

  • I think its great what they are doing. I know I’m not the target audience. My ex gaming pc always gets relegated to the living room and used as a, well, PC – on a huge screen, with a wireless xbox dongle. Big picture is fine. VLC is fine. Everything is fine except when my partner uses it and downloads free software that results in me having to remove 6 taskbars from Chrome and Firefox.

    Long story short. If steam OS is good I’ll dual boot it on my living room rig.

  • This is great for the console gamer. The problem with Xbox and PlayStation is that they are too similer. With the steam box it will give console gamers more freedom and flexibility.

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