Gaming boxes gain Steam at CES 2014

Last year Valve announced the Steam OS project, and its plans to release a prototype Steam Machine console to a limited number of users for a closed testing phase. We suspect that about the same time the world’s hardware manufacturers were rubbing their hands in glee, as dollar signs lit up their eyes. Here was one of the world’s foremost gaming companies handing them a template for their next big thing: computers that are game consoles.

Now, after a few months of development, Valve has announced the 13 manufacturers that will be working on Steam Machines. The lineup includes big names in PC hardware, like Alienware, Gigabyte, and Falcon Northwest. Other, lesser-known (but equally respectable) manufacturers include, Origin PC, Webhallen, Zotac, Alternate, CyberPowerPC, iBuyPower, Next, Scan Computers, and Digital Storm.

The machines vary in specification, with some boasting entry-level Intel Core i3 chips and Intel’s on-processor graphics, while others have leading-edge silicon from Intel and NVIDIA. Prices, though not set in stone for all models, vary between $499 and $6 000. The only constant will be the installation of SteamOS, and likely the Steam Machine gamepad..

Valve’s co-founder Gabe Newell originally pitched Steam Machine as a way of bringing the openness of the PC into the living room, with a focus on gaming. To that end, Steam Machine and Steam OS are almost like Android: an open platform for hardware manufacturers to design their own devices that all run a universal operating system. Just like Android, users then have the choice of a high-end box that’ll do everything, or an entry-level machine that’ll indie games with ease.



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