FWIR, the SteamOS beta appears to be out.
Also, it seems some of Valve's prototype Steam Machines boxes are out in the wild.
It looks like it's quite literally a PC assembled from off-the-shelf components:
"The prototype machine is a high-end, high-performance box, built out of off-the-shelf PC parts,
" Valve said to the Steam Universe community group
. "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."
So it's basically a pre-built gaming PC in a custom enclosure.
The prototype units do have some pretty powerful specs though:
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
It should be noted that the above prototype build by Valve is just that - a prototype. It also probably represents a more upper tier of Steam Machine. Valve says that most of the buyable Steam Machines are going to be made by the third parties partnering with Valve.
Only 300 of the metal beast above will ship to beta testers, and then Valve says it's cutting off its own supply of Steam Machines. "We're really building this as a test platform, and there are many machines that are gonna be made by third-parties. They're the ones that will be available commercially in 2014," Valve designer Greg Coomer told Engadget.
There should be some more Steam Machines SKUs revealed at CES 2014 (January 7-10):
...Those machines will be revealed at next January's CES, as well as partners and more information (fingers crossed for pricing!). Coomer expects a "good array of options, optimized for different features" in the Steam Machines lineup -- everything from a low-end, inexpensive streaming box to an Intel i7/GeForce Titan GPU-powered supercomputer.
”Really we just wanna have confidence that all the customers on Steam are having enough options, and that the price/performance spectrum is as fleshed out as Steam customers want it to be."
I'm curious as to what the pricing will be for these. One of the iBuyPower Steam Machine SKUs with more conservative specs (AMD CPU, an R9 270x GPU, and a 500gb HDD) is estimated to go for ~$500. That configuration is still more powerful than the Xbox One and PS4 in terms of raw specs (although not accounting for advantages consoles have with being able to optimize for a closed platform or use lower level APIs).
Not sure on what the price for a more upper-tier machine would be though, as just the GTX 780 card from that above prototype rig goes for ~$500 by itself.
I know that building your own PC is cheaper than buying a prebuilt PC, so I think it's safe to assume the same will hold true in regards to buying a Steam Machine vs building your own "Steam Machine".
It's interesting stuff though, as it's almost like we're seeing the Pre-Built Gaming PC business rallying behind the banner of Valve in order to do battle with the consoles over the living room gaming space.
Edited by chicolom - 12/15/13 at 4:25am