One of the most talked about topics so far from CES 2014
is the announcement of 13 manufacturing partners for Valve's Steam Machines project. Designed to bring PC gaming to the living room using Valve's own Linux-based Steam OS, Steam Machines are being seen as a new hope for PC gaming in general.
Although Valve has outlined requirements for Steam Machines, designed the OS they'll run and even designed the Steam Controller that will ship with them, the actual 'consoles' themselves are being built by traditional PC manufacturers, with the likes of Alienware and Scan onboard.
So, we've collated all 13 Steam Machines that have so far been unveiled for you to see which suits your needs. To keep things simple, they're in alphabetical order.
Alienware Steam Machine
Probably the most prominent of all the Steam Machines announced so far is Alienware's effort. With the company's pedigree in designing stylish gaming PCs and laptops, it's no surprise that it looks to be among the most integrated solution. It's small and compact, with Alienware's signature glowing features.
However, while certainly impressive looking, what we don't yet know about the Alienware Steam Machine is what hardware it contains. Alienware has talked about how the pricing will be competitive with the mainstream consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One, which would suggest a modest hardware bundle. The consoles use integrated graphics from an AMD APU and they're still sold at a loss, which isn't something you can imagine Alienware doing.
We'll be back with more as soon as we find out.
Alternate Steam Machine
- $1399 (~£850)
- Gigabyte GTX 760
- Intel Core i5 4570
- 1TB SSHD
Next up we have a fairly premium sounding model from Alternate. With a discrete GTX 760, 1TB SSHD and 16GB of RAM, it packs hardware consistent with mid-range PC, and it demands a price to match. The system uses a hefty traditional PC case to house all the hardware so won't be the first choice for those looking for a sleek, under-the-tv Steam Machine.
CyberpowerPC Steam Machine
- $499 (~£305)
- AMD Radeon R9 270 / Nvidia GTX 760 GPUs
- AMD/Intel Core i5 CPUs
- 8GB RAM
- 500GB HDD
CyberPower's selection of hardware and pricing fits much more into the Valve ethos of Steam Machines competing with the mainstream consoles, coming in at under $500.
The hardware also looks the part, rivalling even that of Alienware, with glowing lights and a slim settop box-style form factor. Definitely one to watch.
Digital Storm Bolt II Steam Machine
- Nvidia GTX 780 Ti
- Intel Core i7 4770K
- 1TB HDD 120GB SSD
The Digital Storm Bolt II is the first Steam Machine on our list to really push the boat out when it comes to hardware and pricing. With an Intel 4770K and Nvidia GTX 780 Ti powering things along, this is going to be one seriously powerful console. You're also paying for a compact and attractive chassis design which makes this one hefty gaming PC you might be happy with next to your telly.
Falcon Northwest Tiki Steam Machine
- Nvidia GeForce GTX TITAN
- Customizable CPU
- 8 to 16GB
- Up to 6TB
Well known for pushing performance boundries Falcon Northwest's Steam Machine ticks just about every performance PC box. Its seriously expensive, sports a whacky case design and... er, has a granite base.
Gigabyte Brix Pro Steam Machine
- Intel Core i7 4770R
- Intel Iris Pro 5200
- 1TB SATA 6Gb/s
The Gigabyte Brix Pro is the only Steam Machine so far to opt for the inbuilt graphic of an Intel chip. While Intel's Iris graphics are a huge leap forward over previous Intel offerings, we're highly sceptical of them being able to deliver a satisfactory gaming experience. If it does work, though, this will be a major milestone for Steam Machine adoption.
iBuyPower Steam Machine
- $499 and up
- AMD Graphics
- Quad Core AMD or Intel CPU
Bringing things back down to a realistic level - for most of us - is the iBuyPower Steam Machine, which will feature a relatively modest hardware list, with the option for either an AMD or Intel CPU as well as an AMD graphics card - rumoured to be the AMD R9 270.
The case is another impressively slim design with some funky illumination, which like the others here may actually be the last thing you want when slung under your TV.
Materiel.net Steam Machine
- $1098 (~£670
- MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC
- Intel Core i5 4440
- 8GB RAM
- 8GB SSD, 1TB SSHD
The Material.net Steam Machine actually uses the same chassis as the Alternate machine, and we're similarly dubious about its overall merits. Its some premium hardware in a not so premium looking case. That said, with a standard form factor it will be easy to perform upgrades.
Next SPA Steam Machine
- Nvidia GT 760
- Intel Core i5
Although there's no price on this machine, the spec list and chassis design suggest it'll probably come in around the $800/£600 mark. There's no two ways about it, though, this is an ugly option.
Origin PC Chronos Steam Machine
- TBD (configurable)
- 2x 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX TITANs
- Intel Core i7 4770k (3.9—4.6GHz)
The Origin PC offering will be available in either a standard or an SLI edition with a hefty set of options available for both. Essentially it looks like being a case of 'how much would you like to spend?' The chassis isn't the prettiest we've seen but is certainly better than some.
Scan NC10 Steam Machine
- $1090 / £699
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M
- Intel Core i3 4000M
- 8GB RAM
- 500GB HDD
Forum regulars, Scan, have also joined the party and have opted for a relatively premium feature list, and a matching premium price. But enough talk of specs - just look at that chassis! This is by far the slimmest and most premium looking Steam Machine of the lot. Nice.
Webhallen Steam Machine
- Nvidia GTX 780
- Intel Core i7 4771
- 1TB SSHD
The Webhallen Steam Machine is another system to opt for a relatively standard PC chassis and marrying it to a selection of high-end gaming components. We're sure it'll be great but it doesn't exactly leap out at you.
Zotac Steam Machine
- $599 (~£365)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX (TBD)
- Intel Core (TBD)
- RAM TBD
- Hard Drive TBD
The Zotac Steam Machine will utilise the company's 3rd Generation ZBOX chassis, which suggests it will use the integrated graphics of an Intel APU. However, the exact specs haven't yet been announced.
So there you have it: all the Steam Machines we know about so far. We'll be back with more details as soon as we hear about them.
Which one takes your fancy? Or are you just going to build one yourself?