Sony is in an enviable position at the moment: it’s claimed an early victory in the next-gen console wars, with sales of the PlayStation 4 edging ahead of its closest rival the Xbox One. Of course, gaming is a volatile industry and you just never know what’s going to happen. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Adam Rohde agrees, admitting in an interview that the Steam Machine may compete in the same space one day, but that Valve has a lot of work to do to make this happen.
Alienware Alpha is a $550 Steam Machine we looked at earlier this week, during which we noted that SteamOS, the backbone of the system, isn't quite ready. That, and the inclusion of Windows 8.1 in the system specs, understandably led to some existential questions about whether a Steam Machine without SteamOS is really a Steam Machine at all; and the answer, according to Alienware, is "yes."
Valve's Steam Controller will no longer release in 2014, an official post on the Steam Community forum confirms. According to the update the delay to a 2015 release window has been prompted by "a ton" of useful playtesting feedback.
Update: The original version of this story implied that Alienware wasn’t confident in the potential success of Steam Machines as a broader initiative. We’ve since omitted this. We apologize for the error.
Valve's Steam Machines are strange beasts. They're PCs running a Valve-specific version of Linux, attached to televisions in the living room and driven by a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. That's a tough sell for PC gamers, and a big challenge for the hardware companies who will sell the systems, often at low prices so they can compete against the cheaper consoles. Alienware, the Dell-owned gaming PC manufacturer and largest company in the space, definitely understands how tough the marketplace will be. Individually, the company doesn't believe its Steam Machines will be very profitable compared to the profit it nets from its existing desktops and laptops.
If anyone can direct and dictate the course of PC gaming for the next 10 years, it’s Valve. The creators of Steam—and a little game called Half-Life—have already changed how we get our games, and the prices we’re willing to pay for them. Now the company is going one step further, with an initiative that will expand where PC games are played.
It’s a plan comprised of three parts: SteamOS, the open-source operating system compiled by Valve and running on the Linux kernel; Steam Machines, PCs that are custom-built for living in an entertainment center; and Steam Controller, Valve’s solution to the input issues that have made living room computing, at best, an uncomfortable compromise. The message, according to Valve, is simple: “You want to bring your Steam library onto your sofa, and we’re building the best way for you to do that.”
The ASRock M8 has just arrived in the office and it’s one of the best-looking mini-ITX boxes I’ve seen in a long time. It's a high-end barebone PC, which means you'll need to provide your own processor, graphics card, memory, cooler and storage, but it uses a PCIe riser board so you can lie your dual-slot graphics card in line with the motherboard.
Chassis builders, Silverstone, have just announced the release today of their new Raven RVZ01 PC case. And it bears more than a passing resemblance to Valve’s Steam Machine prototype. The Raven RVZ01 is the follow up to the RV01 Silverstone released some six years ago, and shows how times and aesthetics have changed. Gone are the overly-angular edges of the original, instead gone for a simpler, smoother chassis design.
Personally I’ve been waiting for third-party manufacturers to start creating small form factor, mini-ITX chassis capable of housing a horizontally-mounted graphics card - a la the Steam Machine prototype. That’s the only way to get the height of a machine with a discrete GPU down and make it look less like a hefty traditional PC.
A couple of days ago we reported the confusing and disappointing news that you will not be able to upgrade Alienware’s Steam Machine, one of the more promising models involved in Valve’s foray into the living room unveiled at CES 2014. But apparently that’s not true at all.
From the many Steam Machine models unveiled at CES 2014, Alienware’s looked like one of the best. It was less of an eyesore, and Valve’s Greg Coomer himself has said that it's the machine "we think is actually going to serve the most customers and make the most Steam users happy." I bet these users will be less happy to find out that they can’t upgrade Alienware’s Steam Machine, which will instead just launch a new model every 12 months.
We've been inundated with a lot of Steam Machines hardware specifications ever since CES, but don't forget that their Linux-based Steam OS can’t run that many games natively. Luckily, Valve recently announced that the in-home streaming beta, which will allow you to stream games from you computer to your Steam Machine and other devices, is now live.
With all the excitement surrounding Steam Machines this year, it’s easy to forget about the controversal "Steam Box" from last year's CES. As a reminder, in January 2013, Xi3 unveiled its Piston console, along with the news that the company had received an initial investment from Valve, indicating the Piston’s position as a Steam Machine. However, in March, Valve announced that it claimed no involvement with Xi3, sending ripples of confusion and drama throughout the industry.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today, Gabe Newell was blinded by a bright future as he revealed the manufacturers working with Valve to release this year's line of Steam Machines—living room PCs which will come equipped with Valve's free, Linux-based SteamOS. The current lineup includes Alienware, Materiel.Net, Alternate, Next, CyberPowerPC, Origin, Digital Storm, Scan Computers, Falcon Northwest, Webhallen, GigaByte, Zotac, iBuyPower, and Maingear.
CES 2014 exhibitors are churning out Steam Machine models almost as fast as gimmicky iPhone accessories. Earlier today, we reported on Digital Storm’s $1900 Bolt II Steam Machine, aimed at the highest end of the market. Now, CyberPowerPC revealed its own Steam Machine at a price point aimed directly at the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Digital Storm’s Bolt II is one of the most impressive Steam Machine’s we’ve seen thus far. It’s main claim to fame is that it’s the first liquid cooled Steam Machine, and that it will feature both SteamOS and Windows. So it’ll work for both desktop and livingroom setups, and it will be able to play the occasional game you can’t get through Steam.
It was supposed to be a short break. I told myself Civilization V wouldn't suck me in when I began playing on the big screen. The game will be too tedious. The text will be too small. I was wrong.
I've spent the past couple days going through every game I thought would be interesting to play, and Civilization V on a couch, staring at a big screen TV is among most engaging, relaxing gaming experiences I've ever had with a game.
By Chris Kinniburgh.
I was selected as one of the 300 Steam Machine beta participants. A few days ago, I received a 35 pound crate filled with foam and Valve's prototype hardware.
The Steam Machine is modular, and multiple configurations have been released to testers. Some contain i7 CPUs and Titan graphics cards, others have i3s and GTX 660s. My Steam Machine is equipped with a 3.2GHz quad-core i5 CPU, a GTX 780 GPU, and 16GB of RAM. After plugging the box in, and tucking it into my entertainment console, I pressed the large circular button on the front of the case. The machine boots to a GRUB boot loader for less than a second - one of the few reminders that there's a Linux OS under the hood. After a brief loading period with a purple steam logo, the machine boots to a familiar Big Picture Mode view.
Brace yourself. Today, Valve announced that it's ready to start shipping out its first batch of Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the lucky 300 users selected to participate in the beta. If all goes according to plan, the machines will ship out of the factory this Friday, Dec. 13.
Valve may have decided to go it alone when it comes to manufacturing Steam controllers, but the company’s getting a little help in pushing out the box itself. Valve’s Greg Coomer told IGN that we’ll know which companies will construct Valve’s fleet of Steam Machines sometime during CES 2014, which runs from Jan. 7-10, 2014.
Everything you know about the PC gaming world is set to change over the next twelve months. We’re going to experience a tectonic shift in the coming year on a scale not seen since the introduction of Windows 95 and the death of DOS. Valve have struck a blow for open-source gaming must have reverberated around the corridors of Microsoft’s Redmond HQ like the last peal at a funeral.
Okay, that's overselling it a bit, but the groundswell of support surrounding Linux as a viable gaming OS alternative to Windows, currently spearheaded by Valve, really could change things. We'll at least get a range of gaming PCs that look like nothing on the market right now. Next year Valve have announced that they will be helping hardware partners sell branded Steam Machines specifically designed to run with a bespoke Linux-based OS and sit under your TV in the living room. One of the advantages they'll have over the consoles is that they'll be modular and upgradeable, and rely on the hardware we use to power our desktops right now.
That means we'll be able to build our own Steam Machines to fit our living rooms. With that in mind, I've scoured the world of small form-factor hardware to create two sample Steam machines, a no-holds barred powerhouse and a powerful but more sensibly priced offering. Want to build your own Steam machine? Here's what you'll need.