Steam Machines/SteamOS/Controller FAQ

Undoubtedly one of the bigger stories of 2013 in the gaming world was Valve’s September announcement that they were planning on throwing their hat into the gaming hardware market in 2014. The three-pronged unveiling of Steam Machines, the Steam Controller, and Steam OS was huge news, if a little light on specific details, but as the months have passed we’ve getting a clearer idea of what Valve’s true living room centric plans entail.

This article is a work in progress and a constantly updating Hub for all the must-know Steam Machine, SteamOS and Steam Controller news, so check back often!

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What Are Steam Machines?

Steam Machines is Valve’s new line of living room based hardware (home gaming consoles) for their Steam digital distribution/gaming platform. Announced in September 2013, Steam Machines will all run SteamOS, Valve’s new operating system, and come bundled with the company’s new Steam Controller.

When Can I Get One?

In December 2013, Valve shipped beta units out to 300 testers, but if you weren’t one of the lucky, you can build your own test unit right now as the company recently detailed a way to DIY Steam Machines in seven easy steps. Specific release dates for retail Steam Machines are still up in the air, but Valve’s plans are to roll out the first Steam Machines sometime in 2014.

At CES 2014, Digital Storm announced that their Bolt II Steam Machine will be available at the end of January 2014, which is the closest we’ve come to an actual street date for the first Steam Machines. Stay Tuned for more specific details…

So There Are More Than One?

Yes. Rather than a “one box fits all” mentality, Valve has instead decided to partner with multiple hardware makers to create many different Steam Machine models to suit a wide range of customer needs – from the lean and affordable all the way to the mega-powerful and cutting edge.

Have Any Steam Machine Models Been Announced?

As a matter of fact, yes. At CES 2014, Valve announced 13 hardware partners for the first run of Steam Machines. Here are all of the officially announced 2014 Steam Machines, and any announced details:

Alienware’s Steam Machine

  • Price: Around $499
  • Release Date: September 2014
  • Details and Specs: TBD
  • Special Features: Annually updated hardware models

Alternate’s Steam Machine

  • Price:$1339
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 1TB SSHD
  • RAM: 16GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 4570
  • Graphics: Gigabyte GTX 760

Scan’s “NC10″ Steam Machine

  •  Price: $1,090
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 500GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 4000M
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
  • Special Features: Small form factor

iBuyPower’s “SBX” Steam Machine

  • Price: $499 and up
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 500GB+
  • RAM: 8GB
  • CPU: Quad Core AMD/Intel
  • Graphics: Radeon GCN

Digital Storm’s “Bolt II” Steam Machine

  • Price: $1,899 and up
  • Release Date: Late 2014
  • Storage: 1TB + 120GB SDD
  • RAM: 16GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K
  • Graphics: GTX 780 Ti
  • Special Features: Liquid Cooling, dual-boots Windows and SteamOS

CyberPowerPC’s “A” & “I” Steam Machines

  • Price: $499 / $699
  • Release Date: Second Half of 2014
  • Storage: 500GB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • CPU: AMD A6 / Intel Core i5
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon 270 / NVIDIA GTX 760

Gigabyte’s “Brix Pro” Steam Machine

  • Price: TBD
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 1TB SATA
  • RAM: 8GB (2x4GB)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770R
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Pro 5200

Origin PC’s “Chronos” Steam Machines

  • Price: TBD (configurable)
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Storage: 6TB – 14TB combined (combined SSD and hard drive)
  • RAM: 16GB – 32GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K (3.9 – 4.66 GHz)
  • Graphics: 2 x 6GB NVIDIA GTX Titans
  • Special Features: Dual boot Windows and SteamOS, highly customizable

Zotac’s Steam Machine

  • Price: $599
  • Details and Specs: TBD

Next Spa’s Steam Machine

  • Price: TBD
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 1TB
  • RAM: 8GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i5
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 760

Falcon Northwest’s “Tiki” Steam Machine

  • Price: $1,799 – $6,000
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: Up to 6TB
  • RAM: 8-16GB
  • CPU: Customizable
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan
  • Special Features: Stone Base

Materiel.net’s Steam Machine

  • Price: $1,098
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 8GB + 1TB SSHD
  • RAM: 8GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 4440
  • Graphics: MSI GeForce GTX 760 (OC)

Webhallen’s Steam Machine

  • Price: $1,499
  • Release Date: TBD 2014
  • Storage: 1TB SSHD
  • RAM: 16GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i7
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 780

Can I Hack The Steam Machine? (You Know, Like That Movie “Swordfish”?)

Great flick, and yes! If that’s your thing, Valve welcomes it. You can change the OS, the hardware, install your own software – whatever your little heart desires. In fact some nerds out there are already tinkering with the SteamOS Beta by dual-booting it with Windows, so check it out! (via. ArsTechnica)

Any More Steam Machine News I Should Know About?

Yup. Check out these links:

Steam Machine (Beta Unit) Teardown (via. ifixit)

Steam Machines CES 2014 Press Brochure (.pdf)

Valve Has No Plans To Release Its Own Steam Machine (via. IGN)

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So, What is SteamOS Exactly?

SteamOS is an entirely open Linux-based operating system Valve has been developing to power its Steam Machine home consoles. SteamOS will feature media service integration, game streaming from your primary gaming PC/Mac/Linux device your SteamOS enabled device, and the ability to share your Steam library with family. Also, Valve claims that SteamOS has yielded performance boosts in their software, and reduced input latency at the operating system level.

Linux, You Say… So Will All Steam Games Be Playable On Steam OS?

Yes and no. Although Valve boasted in September that hundreds of Steam games already run natively on SteamOS, the entire Steam library isn’t quite there yet. However, if you already have a PC running Steam you will be able to stream and play those games to a separate system running SteamOS.

How Much Will SteamOS Cost Me?

Rest easy. Valve promises that Steam OS will be free to download for anyone.

When Will SteamOS Be Made Available?

Actually, the Beta testing process for Steam OS has begun. Anyone who wishes to try out the operating system can do so here. The final release date of SteamOS is still unknown, but hopefully Valve will shed some more light on this soon…

Any More SteamOS News I Should Know About?

Yup. Check out these links:

SteamOS beta adds legacy BIOS, official dual-boot support (via. arstechnica)

Test Notes: Steam’s In-Home Streaming Beta (via. tested)

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What Is The Steam Controller?

The Steam Controller is Valve’s entirely new wireless  input device designed specifically to bring as much of the Steam gaming experience to the living room as possible – where in many cases a keyboard and mouse might be cumbersome. Designed to work with all Steam games (past, present, and future) the Steam Controller shaping up to be an impressive piece of tech with a robust set of pretty impressive sounding features: including no less than 16 buttons, a high definition front touch screen, and dual clickable touchpads with haptic feedback.

At Valve’s Steam Dev Days 2014, the Steam Controller design was updated. The company removed the touchscreen in the middle of the device, and added new buttons to the front of the controller in a similar orientation to the standard D-Pad and A/B/X/Y of most modern game pads.

Clickable Haptic Trackpads? (I’m scared.)

Me too, and yes: clickable haptic trackpads. Valve claims that using trackpads with clickable surfaces, instead of a traditional game pad’s sticks, will improve fidelity and allow for a much wider array of traditionally “PC” games to be played without a mouse and keyboard. To make up for the missing “visceral feeling” of pushing sticks around, Valve is implementing sophisticated Haptic feedback, rather than traditional rumble, in the trackpads – which they boast will allow “a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement”.

Alright. What Does The Steam Controller Look Like?

STEAM CONTROLLER

Can I See This Thing In Action?

Yes, actually. Check out this video where Valve demonstrates the Steam Controller with a handful of Steam games, or the YouTube channel Trial By Game, where many more games are demoed with the controller.

Does The Steam Controller Only Work With Steam Machines?

No. Although designed with the Steam Machine and the living room in mind, if you’re only interested in buying a Steam Controller for your already amazing PC rig, you’ll be able to do so.

When Can I Get One?

If you were one of 300 lucky beta testers, you have your prototype Steam Controller already. As for the rest of us we’ll have to wait eagerly until Valve announces a specific release window.

In May of 2014 Valve officially announced that the Steam Controller would not be released until sometime in 2015, replacing its previous release window of sometime during 2014. Stay tuned for more specific details…

And, How Much Will It Cost?

Valve hasn’t announced pricing details just yet. Stay tuned…

Any More Steam Controller News I Should Know About?

Yup. Check out these links:

Steam Controller API Released

CES: Steam Controller Hands-On Impressions (via. IGN)