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Steam Machine specs and prices detailed

Cost ranges from $479 to $5,000 for small form factor PCs

Valve has added a tab to the Steam site which links to a breakdown of the costs and technical specifications of the first round of Steam Machines, including offerings from Alienware, Asus and Falcon Northwest.

The PCs on offer run the gamut of power and price, ranging from $479.99 for the cheapest, an Alienware machine with an i3 processor, a 2GB GeForce GTX graphics card and 4GB of DDR3L ram, to the top of the range Falcon Northwest Tiki - which maxes out at $4,999 for a fearsome machine with a wealth of bells and whistles, including a granite base to secure the unit. All share the common components of a small form factor and...distinctive styling.

Most of PC gaming's most desirable brands are part of the scheme, with many high-end component manufacturers also featuring heavily. Whilst there are plenty of excessive paint jobs and esoteric cases available, many have opted for a more reserved chassis to blend in amongst the other high-tech products of the living room.

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The Webhallen S15-01, one the classier Steam Machine designs.

The machines will be available from November, with Valve hoping that there'll be a considerable thawing of the frosty reception which the concept has met so far. Despite the company giving Steam Machines a big push at GDC, the hardware has been largely overshadowed by VR announcements, including Valve's own Vive. Consumer excitement for living-room PC gaming is relatively limited, it seems, and what there is might be well-enough served by Big Picture to put people off the considerable investment of a dedicated Steam Machine.

There's a chance, however, that Vive and Lighthouse could well spark some more interest. Given the size demanded by the practicalities of mobile VR, the living room is likely to be the natural environment for many users, and most will have their PC in a separate room. A risky strategy of vertical integration, perhaps, but one where the risk has been mitigated somewhat with the franchising of the hardware to external manufacturers. All eyes on November, then.

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Latest comments (23)

Alex Comer Games Developer 2 years ago
I do wish folks would stop describing Steam Machines as "living-room PC gaming". The innards might be PCs, but who cares? You won't be playing the games with a keyboard and mouse. Valve is using its brand to get the Steam platform plugged into your television, and I really hope they succeed, as it will cause a much needed shake up of the console space.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
It's interesting to note that manufacturers aren't calling them PCs, particularly. There's Alienware "Steam Machines" (they lack the Steam logo, but aside from that...) on Amazon UK that they call consoles:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alienware-Alpha-Console-i3-4130T-NVIDIA/dp/B00OYSBU12
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
Well, its the same reason Sony and Microsoft don't call their consoles PCs.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
Well, it's still not a console

A console has locked specs. All games work equally well on all PlayStations or Xboxes of that model

The specs are all over the place. The margins on the competitively priced with console units like Alienware are very low, and there's no kickbacks to them. This has been done before, and it was called 3DO

The streaming box is the only thing that might work out for thrm, as that's what their customers really want. They have their hot rod, but they don't necessarily want it in the living room, or the bedroom. Joe Sixpack is not going to stand for the limited Linux game selection, the performance differentials, and the worse than non-existent customer service.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Joe Sixpack is not going to stand for the limited Linux game selection
Pretty irrelevant when companies are selling machines with Windows 8 pre-installed (like the Alienware I link to above). Also, fyi, a search for SteamOS+Linux games on Steam pulls up nearly 1000 results. :)
the performance differentials,
This is... hard to gauge. Look at any PC retailer (PC World/Currys/BestBuy(?)) and you'll see machines with godawful specs, being sold for too much money. The "performance differentials" are already there on PCs, it's just now there's machines being sold specifically to play games, so people might notice them more. That said, there's an argument to be made that anyone who doesn't notice how slowly their i3 or Celeron chugs when they try and load-up the latest Word edition probably won't notice frame-dips below 30fps at 720p.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
There is no shortage of online shops which will put your PC inside a fancy casing. Valve's biggest challenge lies with their operating system. Because living room convenience aside, by only running SteamOS, you will take a massive hit to your potential library and that includes Steam games. Alternate, being one of Germany's largest online retailer with heavy ads in all publications sells Core i7 and nvidia 970 the most. Competing with consoles is not required. Media Markt is selling Xbox One at 299 this week, why compete with that? That is hardly a sign of platform strength.

However, that does not mean that overcharging for off the shelf components is a viable strategy. Steam Machines suffer from a gold digger syndrome to some degree. Valve needs to get a market share as a pre-installed OS in the online BO market more than it needs high profit margins due to overpricing.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
A console has locked specs.
There are lots of consoles of different specs and different operating systems. Who said a console requires the same specs to be considered one?

Valve are using their OS and digital expertise to define an ecosystem, that doesn't lock down the specs, doesn't lock down the manufacturer. It aims to unify the experience to some degree and in a console form factor, under your TV.

Its a different kind of console, whether or not it will be successful, hard to say.
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Stu Johnson Technical Lead 2 years ago
A console has locked specs.

There are lots of consoles of different specs and different operating systems. Who said a console requires the same specs to be considered one?
What Jeff means is that a 'console' (e.g. XBone ) has a universally constant specification. It is not possible for a dev to squeeze the last clock cycle or byte of memory f it cannot be guaranteed that every customers hardware is identical. This is why the Android market is such a mess, either develop for LCD or exclude a chunk of the customer base.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
@ Stu

Yup. Though, is it too much to hope that this Steam Machine push will focus devs/pubs minds on creating decent ports and actually taking minimum/recommended specs announcements seriously? What should we blame when GTA4 still can't run 1080p/60fps on PC, 7 years after release? The fractured hardware market, or bad coding?

(yes, I'm still annoyed that I can't run GTA4 properly. How did you guess? :p )
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Alexey Menshikov Founder and CEO, Beatshapers2 years ago
If Valve make Half-Life 3 exclusive to Stream Machines, that will be game changer.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee2 years ago
I see what you mean Stu by I disagree with adding so much weight to definitions. We have consoles in years gone by with iconsistent inputs, outputs and even memory (N64 is a great example), past and present.

Sure, Steam Machines offer widely varying specs but when we speak about consoles we need to stop adding somewhat irrelevent factors to the name 'console' and instead of think about the design and ecosystem behind them.

Consoles are computers, all that really changes is thoses factors - design and ecosystem. Steam Machines are a generation of consoles which offer flexibility in the components and manufacturer, still with the aim to be dedicated games and TV media machines.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th March 2015 11:44am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
Apple phones and tablets have quite a few revisions of their hardware with different processing power, that has not hurt them much it seems. Arguably, Android has way too much clutter when it comes to processing power, screen resolutions, etc.

PCs inhabit the Android extreme of the spectrum, while consoles are positioned even more extreme than Apple. With the exception of the New3DS, which is going down the same road Apple did. Keep the price up and mildly increase the power while being fully compatible when it comes to new releases; at least over medium time scales. nobody is crying about iPhone1 not running iOS8, they buy new phones. Valve seeks that advantage. If you buy a Steam machine now, you get good software for the next five years at least and should you want to have the new killer game with killer graphics three years down the road, then there is no 10 year commitment to a platform stopping your desire for 8k Mortal Kombat or something.

What if Nintendo released a high power WiiU that retains compatibility while upgrading to PS4 levels of processing power?
What if 4k took off and neither Sony nor MS responded with an upgrade, while Valve did?
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Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster2 years ago
Android's clutter has as much to do with the OS as it has to do with the hardware. Android itself is intrinsically pretty inefficiently designed as far as utilising the power available to is, I mean Virtual Machines were never the fastest option. Not to mention that it is version support hell.

At least most of those iOS users usually keep their phone updated to a version no less than a year old.

As of the Steam Machine, as soon as people stop looking at them as PCs with PC hardware, the more successful it will be. We currently have a legion of Steam users crying foul over the fact that building a PC would be easier and offering to teach the world how to build computers, forgetting that the target market doesn't care. I haven't really seen any Steam Machine marketing to get at the console crowd that this stuff is really for yet. If Steam Machine can't hit their target market and hit it hard, then it will be as unknown to the people that want it as the Shield Tablet was to the people who wished they could play their PC games portably.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 10th March 2015 9:18pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
If you're coding for iOS, you have a small range of devices and hardware variations to account for. Typically iPad 2, mini, 3, mini 2,4, air air 2, which share much in common with iPhone 4S-6.

These machines have huge variations on power. Joe Sixpack doesn't understand why his Steam Machine won't run Call of Duty, just that it won't. That locked, consistent experience of "Any PlayStation 4 game works just as well as on my friends PS4" is the pick up and play experience that the table let represents. Those games "just work". PC is a wild and moving target.

There's two markets for the Steam Machine. People that want to extend their enthusiast box, and people just looking for cheap games. The latter will quickly discover PC game piracy is even cheaper, and way way easier. The former will likely be satisfied with the streaming box. There hardware manufacturers will bail, and that will be the end of it.

Valve is a 4 billon dollar company with high income, low overhead, but they know that they will be crushed if they try to play in the console space, which is why they schluffed it off to others. History repeats itself
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
The latter will quickly discover PC game piracy is even cheaper, and way way easier.
That's actually very debatable. Not wanting to get mired in the piracy debate, but there's few things easier than booting your PC, having Steam on auto-start, and realising there's a random Steam sale on. Factor in that cracked versions constantly need updating by finding the latest release version, torrent sites being blocked, and no-multiplayer for cracked games (unless cracked servers, but, ah man, who can be bothered?).

No, piracy may be cheaper, but one of the reasons why PC gaming has hit new heights over the past few years is because Steam makes buying games easier, and more worthwhile. This is what Valve and manufacturers are banking on, btw - that booting a Steam Machine straight into Steam and showing the consumer the store is going to get them buying. It's like having a chauffeur and personal shopper in one. :)
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Alex Comer Games Developer 2 years ago
It's interesting how people see 'console gaming' as meaning 'fixed system specs' too. Yes, that's the case right now, but it won't be if Valve's plan works out. Not long ago, 'console' didn't mean media capability, or internet connectivity even CDs were an innovation once, when 'console' was synonymous with 'cartridge'.

The important difference here is the user interface and controller: the PC is primarily designed for working at a desk; consoles are primarily designed for playing games on a sofa. There's no reason a 'sofa' platform can't have flexible specs. We know consumers and developers alike will put up with the problems involved, because PC gaming is still a thing after all these years of graphics options and driver updates. Who is to say there isn't a market for a more open, more flexible platform, with a range of hardware price points, which you play from the sofa?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.2 years ago
The spec range is what will prevent Steam Machines from gaining a major share of the console market. Console gamers don't want that.

And yes, consoles are largely spec locked. Upgrading RAM on the N64 didn't mean buying a whole new N64 just to play Perfect Dark Mulitplayer or Majora's Mask. It meant buying a $30 add-on that easily fit into an expansion slot on the top of the console. Unless these Steam Machine boxes intend to be able to the same (and at the same price) with GPU's and Power Supply's, it's not the same thing.

Even consoles that do have multiple models at different spec (DS to DSi or 3DS to New 3DS), games are almost entirely still designed for the spec of the lowest capable machine. Steam Machines will not have that.
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Alex Comer Games Developer 2 years ago
The spec range is what will prevent Steam Machines from gaining a major share of the console market. Console gamers don't want that.
I'm not so sure. Developers may despair of Android's fragmentation, but one of the key factors driving Android's success is the range of specs which suit a range of budgets. Steam Machines may well not take off, for various reasons, but it's not necessarily because "console gamers" only want the status quo.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.2 years ago
Alex, that works because of the scope of mobile development. PC/console development can't live with that kind of fragmentation.

And it's not that they want 'status quo', it's that they don't want a box that will fail to meet minimum specs for the next big game. That's why they buy a console.

X360 owners could have bought their console in 2005 and it played big titles for over 8 years. Will your steam machine be able to say the same thing?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
it's that they don't want a box that will fail to meet minimum specs for the next big game.
Let's not forget that "fail to meet..." occurs in the standardised console industry, it's just it's called "last generation". Do 360 owners complain of not being able to play Battlefield Hardline? or The Witcher 3? No, they upgrade (either to XBone or PC).

People are questioning the lack of standardised hardware, but forget that where an XBone or PS4 is 2 years old, the Steam Machine will be new(er) tech. Whilst this is bad in terms of no specific specs to code to, it's good for flexibility. As the res and fps of XBone and PS4 games have differed, so too will the PC/Steam Machine version differ again (both better and worse).

Is it asking more of developers? Sure. But only those one who weren't already releasing a PC version and now might. And it's gone the other way before now (CDPR releasing Witcher 2 first on PC, then learning to code to console's lesser specs).
X360 owners could have bought their console in 2005 and it played big titles for over 8 years. Will your steam machine be able to say the same thing?
Depends on the title? So who knows! :D But I can say one thing - the person who buys a Steam Machine and games for it will be able to trash their old Steam Machine in 4 years, and use their new desktop or laptop to play their games. Can your 360 owner say the same thing? :)

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th March 2015 5:49pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.2 years ago
So you're suggesting a console life cycle of ~4 years?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 2 years ago
@Morville

Oh god yes do they complain, I hate to tell you :)

Go talk to some GameStop clerks :)

And ask them about Halo 3 for PS2 while you're at it :)
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
So you're suggesting a console life cycle of ~4 years?
Mmmm... Yes and no. It's hard to gauge console life, and I wasn't meaning to suggest that (bad phrasing on my part). :) Considering how badly some games run, though (in the sense of res/fps), I would say another 4 years is pushing it (that's about 6 years total).

I'm tempted to say this actually boils down to "At what stage will a consumer feel as though they got their money's worth?" The argument about "The next big game not running on a Steam Machine" is a valid objective way to argue that, but also hard to pin down (not least because of the variable specs). Will The Witcher 3 run on at 1080p/60 on a 500 Steam Machine? No, course it won't. It won't run at that on the XBone, either. But will the person who buys a 500 Steam Machine happily play it at whatever it runs at? Probably, just like the XBoner will.

Remember that there's many ways to enjoy PC games, so long as the developers/publishers allow it. Chugs along? Drop the Anti-Aliasing. Still a bit slow? Drop the texture quality. VSync to 30fps. The point at which a game literally won't play on a Steam Machine will be about as far away as the end of this cycle, if I'm right.

Also, console-life-cycle wasn't the main thrust of that paragraph, y'know. :D

@ Jeff

Hahah... Well, they may complain, but they still bought an XBone, didn't they? (Wait, don't answer that. :p )

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th March 2015 7:35pm

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