Valve Steam Machine’s big moment arrived atop the Palms Casino at CES 2014.
"This has been a great year for the PC," declared Valve Co-Founder Gabe Newell at an intimate press event here.
Indeed, 2013-2014 has seen the unveiling of Valve’s Steam Machine console concept and prototype, SteamOS beta and the Steam Controller. Tonight, Newell officially unveiled 13 hardware manufacturers that are building their very own Steam Machines.
"Today we’re taking the next step," Newell said. "The next step is to say there are another bunch of hardware manufacturers who are also going to be introducing Steam Machines."
Who is making a Steam Machine?
Newell noted that the specs of all the Steam Machines varied greatly from the low to high end, something Valve said would be the case when the initiative was first announced in September.
Alienware was a late addition to Valve’s Steam Machine party, and one of the few devices not to have a price.
Alternate, CyberpowerPC, Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, Next Spa, Scan, Digital Storm, Gigabyte, Materiel.net, Origin PC, Webhallen and Zotac rounded out the dozen other hardware makers building devices that plug into Steam OS.
The price ranges from $499 – $6,000, with a few TBDs thrown in. Webhallen’s white-box machine occupies the top of the spectrum, while CyberpowerPC will have Machines from $499 and up.
Most house an Intel Core i7 or Core i5 CPU, though the Falcon Northwest Tiki has a customizable chip and iBuyPower will run with either a quad-core AMD or Intel chip.
It was Nvidia across the board for graphics, except for Gigabyte’s Brix Pro, which is opting for an Intel Iris Pro 5200. RAM ran from 2 x 4GB to 16GB, while storage floated in the 1TB SSD range. Falcon Northwest, clearly the monster of the bunch, will have a storage option up to 6TB.
But what about Valve?
Valve currently has 300 of its own Steam Machine prototypes in the hands of beta tests, but Newell said the company will continue to evaluate if it makes sense to manufacture its own commercial machine.
"We’re going to continue to make that decision as we go along," he conceded. "We’ve been happy with the results of doing the hardware development. We had plans to build more Machines as our customers demand. We also expect people to be really happy with the range of offerings coming in from the range of hardware manufacturers."
The company is certainly doing some evaluation. Newell said beta testers haven’t been forking over the critical feedback needed to improve the device, controller and overall experience.
"Beta users have been super happy," he said about what the feedback has been like so far. "We actually kind of want them to tell us what’s wrong, so we’re kind of poking at them a little harder. Right now they’re just saying this is the best thing since the beginning of time, or something. We’re trying to get them to give us sort of more, how can we iterate on this and what are the steps that we need to solve next."
In addition to its Steam Machine partners, Newell left the crowd with one more revelation; that Valve plans to sell its Steam Controllers separately, though manufacturers will be able to produce their own.
- Read on for what else is happening at CES 2014!