Steam Machines at GDC
We’ve been waiting for a long time now, but Steam Machines are finally beginning to appear.
These living room PCs come from a variety of manufacturers, but they all share one thing: they use SteamOS to give gamers a streamlined way to play PC games on the big screen.
The biggest news? That Steam Machines will start arriving this fall. Here are the ones we’ve seen and heard about so far this week.
Syber is a division of CyberPowerPC, one of the 13 Steam Machine partners Valve announced back in January 2014.
At GDC 2015 this week they finally showed off what they have in store, including a half dozen different varieties of Steam Machine.
These include the Steam Machine-Mini, Steam Machine-Mercury and Steam Machine-Switch, all of which Syber is showing off at the show.
On the low end of the six is the $450 (about £290, AU$575) Syber Steam Machine-E, with a quad-core AMD processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics. The high end is occupied by the $1,400 (about £910, AU$1,780) Steam Machine-X, the orange beast pictured here.
Asus’s interesting-looking Steam Machine first appeared last summer, but at the time the company said it wouldn’t be fully ready until 2015.
Well guess what year it is, and what Asus has been showing off at GDC 2015.
The slightly renamed Asus GR8S Steam Machine sports Intel i5 or i7 processors, GeForce 9-series graphics, between 4 and 6GB of DDR3 memory, and either 500GB-1TB of HDD space or 128GB-512GB of solid state storage.
It’s launching at $700 (about £460, AU$900) and up.
iBuyPower was really early to reveal its Steam Machine, showing off a concept all the way back in November 2013.
At the time we noted that it would cost the same as an Xbox One – this was, obviously, before the Xbox One’s price drops, since at the time it iBuyPower said its SBX Steam Machine would cost $500 (about £330, AU$640).
Zotac announced a single Steam Machine at GDC: the ZOTAC SN970.
It’s an evolution of the ZBOX E-Series EN760 gaming PC, which the company points out already made a decent DIY Steam Machine for users who didn’t mind installing SteamOS manually.
But for those who prefer the out-of-the-box experience, the SN970 Steam Machine will come with discrete NVIDIA GTX 970M graphics, a 6th-gen Intel chip and a Steam Controller this fall.
Maingear skipped GDC and took its new Steam Machine, the simply named DRIFT, to PAX East, the Boston fan convention also taking place this week.
The Maingear DRIFT packs an Intel Core i7-4790K CPU and a choice between NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 or AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics, plus up to 16GB of DDR memory and 2 1TB solid state drives or a single 6TB HDD.
It’s also “whisper quiet,” according to Maingear’s announcement, and 4K gaming-capable – although the best part might be Maingear’s “true automotive paint finish” that’s apparently available in any color.
Some versions of the DRIFT are available now, but the SteamOS-equipped DRIFT Super Stock edition will launch in November.
When Digital Storm launched its Eclipse gaming PC last year, it was another DIY Steam Machine, but now it’s joined the official ranks.
The Digital Storm Eclipse Steam Machine shown off at GDC has an Intel Pentium G3220 processor, Nvidia GTX 960 2GB graphics, 8GB of DDR3 memory, and a 1TB HDD.
It’s launching in the fall for $700 (about £460, AU$890).
French retailer Materiel.net revealed its own Fractal Design-housed Steam Machine first during CES in January, and it showed it off again at GDC this week.
The Materiel Steam Machine i working with an Intel Core i5 4440 chip, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 OC graphics and a 1TB SSHD.
It’s launching at $899 (about £590, AU$1,150).
Scan Computers’ 3XS ST Steam Machine can come in a few different loadouts, with an Intel Core i3 or i5 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 960 or 970 graphics, and between 8 and 16 GB of DDR3 memory.
It also comes with a minimum of 120GB of SSD space, though you’ll be able to opt for more – and it’s unclear what the upper limit will be.
Scan Computers’ Steam Machine will run between $1,000 (about £650, AU$1,280) and $1,300 (about £850, AU$1,660).
Another Steam Machine that was revealed first at CES, Webhallen’s Steam OS-running S15-01 comes with an Intel Core i5-4460, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics, 8GB of DDR3 memory, and a 1TB SSHD.
If these are all starting to sound the same to you, that’s because they are very, very similar to one another.
Then again, a year ago we didn’t even know what a Steam Machine was, so it could definitely be worse.
The Webhallen S15-01 will launch at $950 (about £620, AU$1,200).
With an Intel Iris Pro 5200 GPU instead of the Nvidia or AMD graphics most of its competitors are rocking, the Gigabyte BRIX Pro Steam Machine stands a little bit apart.
The practical difference is that it’s on the low end of the price spectrum at $600 (about £390, AU$770).
The BRIX also rocks an Intel Core i7 chip, two SO-DIMM DDR3L memory slots, and a 2.5-inch hard drive of your choice.
The FalconNW Tiki Steam Machine takes the cake easily as the most expensive Steam Machine we know of.
It starts – starts – at $2,000 (about £1,300, AU$2,550), and the highest-end version costs a full $5,000 (about £3,275, AU$6,390).
For that you get an Intel Core i7-4790K, multiple options from Nvidia’s GeForce 900 series including Titan and Titan-Z class GPUs, up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, and up to 8TB of solid state/HDD drive space.
Seems like $5K might be a lot to spend for that, but that’s why there will be plenty of options come this fall.
Now it’s just $460 (about £300, AU$590), though, with an AMD processor and Radeon R7 graphics, 4 to 8GB of memory and between 500GB and 1TB of HDD space.
That puts it on the low end, but when the high end is as expensive as Falcon Northwest’s machine (above) or Origin’s (below), that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Don’t call it the Alpha – the Alienware Steam Machine the company is showing off at GDC looks similar, but lacks the Alpha branding.
It’s full-fledged, people!
Starting at $480 (about £315, AU$610), the new Alienware Steam Machine will launch with an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU, 4 to 8GB of DDR3 memory, and between 500GB and 2TB of storage.
Origin, too, is showing off a Steam Machine at GDC, although this isn’t one that we’d heard about until very recently.
The high performance PC maker said in February that it would support SteamOS on an Omega PC when the operating system launches, and at the show this week it showed it’s willing to follow through on that.
The Origin Omega Steam Machine starts at $900 (about £590, AU$1,150) and goes up to $5,000 (about £3,275, AU$6,390) – and beyond, according to Origin.
For that money you get an Intel chip up to i7 4770k, up to 3-way Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics, up to 32GB of memory, and up to 14TB of storage.
GDC 2015: This is the final Steam Controller