#1 Edited by Andorski (5346 posts) -

You can read the full article here. In short, the 300 prototype Steam Machines that Valve is giving to beta testers will range from mid to high-end PC specs. The range of hardware they are testing are as follows:

GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
CPU: some boxes with Intel i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB GDDR5 (GPU)
Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

Just some quick thoughts:

  • As a person who is very interested in SFF (small form factor) builds - I'll be doing my own come January - the small packaging Valve is aiming for is awesome. The dimensions mean that they will be using an ITX motherboard, and I'm guessing that the PSU they are using is the Silverstone ST45SF-G, which is a fan favorite among SFF enthusiasts.
  • Valve now confirms that the components they are using are completely off the shelf. My assumption from this statement is that Steam Machines will be sold above the amount each component would cost separately. It wouldn't make the slightest sense to sell a pre-built PC under its actual value. How much of a premium Valve would sell this for is still uncertain. If Valve were producing it themselves, I wouldn't be surprised that they sell it at zero profit (e.g. they would just charge for the components and the cost of building and shipping). If Valve is partnering with manufacturers to produce Steam Machines, then the price tag would definitely be way higher.
  • Just going off of the specs released by Valve and their costs in PCPartPicker's database:
    • The most low end Steam Machine prototype could be Intel i3-4130+Asus H87I-Plus+ Kingston 16GB (2x8GB)+Seagate 1TB 5400rpm SSHD+EVGA GTX 660 3GB+Silverstone ST45SF-G450W = $763.55 USD (case not included)
    • The most high end Steam Machine prototype could be i7-4770+Asus H87I-Plus**+ Kingston 16GB (2x8GB)**+Seagate 1TB 5400rpm SSHD**+EVGA GTX Titan 6GB+Silverstone ST45SF-G450W = $1702.56 USD (case not included)
      ** = The motherboard, RAM, and SSHD are complete guesses. In choosing these parts for estimating the base cost of the low and high end of Steam Machines, I went with lower end/lower costing hardware.
  • In the article, Valve explicitly states that they do not believe high-end Steam Machines to be a product for the masses, but instead is something that a "significant percentage" of Steam users would want. So we can throw away the notion that Valve is setting up to compete against the PS4 and Xbox One in the console war. I take this to mean that Valve isn't looking to conquer the living room like Microsoft or Sony, but it just feeling out a potential market that can expand their Steam userbase. This is a much more humble approach compared to crazy GabeN fans saying "Valve is looking to destroy the console market!!! Praise be to him!"

So what do you guys think? Now knowing slightly a little more with what Valve is offering, are you interested in a Steam Machine. If so, would you go for a high end or middle tier configuration?

#2 Posted by crithon (3348 posts) -

hmmmm you know, was originally wondering how Steam OS would run on a dead laptop this seems pretty high end to what I expected. I could imagine there might be a third party who might sell something 200, and then maybe promise of interchangeable parts? This is still beta tech, who knows

#3 Posted by Andorski (5346 posts) -

@crithon said:

hmmmm you know, was originally wondering how Steam OS would run on a dead laptop this seems pretty high end to what I expected. I could imagine there might be a third party who might sell something 200, and then maybe promise of interchangeable parts? This is still beta tech, who knows

I can see the possibility of a ~$200 HTPC/Gaming box that has multimedia functionality, stream PC games, and play low resource-intensive Linux games natively (e.g. Indie Games). It would be smart of Valve to require all Steam Machines to have the possibility to upgrade to the largest components possible. So, for example, a company looking to just make a low cost Steam Machine for multimedia and PC gaming streaming would need a case big enough just in case the user wants to slap in a Titan later down the road.

#4 Edited by Pr1mus (3953 posts) -

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

#5 Posted by Andorski (5346 posts) -

@pr1mus said:

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

Valve stated in the blog post that they do not view this as a product for the millions of potential buyers. It is a niche product that will appeal to a few. They might get a deal by contracting a specific vendor to be to sole contributor of a specific component (example: all Steam Machines are outfitted with Asus nVidia GPUs), but they aren't going to increase cost efficiency the same way Sony or Microsoft does when they mass produce consoles. This is assuming Valve undertakes the financial cost of producing the product. If they partner with a manufacturer to produce Steam Machines, the manufacturer would need to make a profit off of producing the product.

#6 Edited by super2j (1735 posts) -

@andorski said:

@pr1mus said:

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

Valve stated in the blog post that they do not view this as a product for the millions of potential buyers. It is a niche product that will appeal to a few.

Not a good sign. It sounds like after they come out, they just fade back into obscurity. This is starting to sound like the boxes are publicity to help Steam Os get off the ground (since hardware will draw a lot of attention). And that eventually, people will be left behind with dead weight boxes with no steam sanctioned hardware upgrades. Why? because a small userbase, and a potentially fragmented one, is not worth focusing on. A year or two after release, the steam box will just be a memory older gamers on podcasts referenced, like the Gizmondo.

#7 Edited by GaspoweR (3204 posts) -

From the looks of things, it's like they are directly competing with the likes of Alienware, Falcon, IBuyPower, etc. with the difference being that it is a system focused/optimized on SteamOS though it is open thus Windows can still be installed if someone wanted to.

#8 Posted by Pr1mus (3953 posts) -

@andorski said:

@pr1mus said:

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

Valve stated in the blog post that they do not view this as a product for the millions of potential buyers. It is a niche product that will appeal to a few. They might get a deal by contracting a specific vendor to be to sole contributor of a specific component (example: all Steam Machines are outfitted with Asus nVidia GPUs), but they aren't going to increase cost efficiency the same way Sony or Microsoft does when they mass produce consoles. This is assuming Valve undertakes the financial cost of producing the product. If they partner with a manufacturer to produce Steam Machines, the manufacturer would need to make a profit off of producing the product.

That doesn't change anything. They wouldn't even consider doing this if there wasn't a market of at least a few hundred thousands customers. They have what 50-60 millions users at this point. A small but significant portion of that is at least that, maybe even a couple millions. That still qualify for major savings. Plus they aren't going to build those themselves. And for any manufacturers producing steam machines as soon as they start building a couple hundred machines there's already significant savings to be made. Especially if companies like Asus or Intel decided to jump in where they could produce almost every components themselves.

Valve is trying to offer something that doesn't exist. But building computers with off the shelf parts for the same price anyone could get them already exist and is not something interesting to the segment of the market this push is trying to appeal to.

#9 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4425 posts) -

@super2j said:

@andorski said:

@pr1mus said:

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

Valve stated in the blog post that they do not view this as a product for the millions of potential buyers. It is a niche product that will appeal to a few.

Not a good sign. It sounds like after they come out, they just fade back into obscurity. This is starting to sound like the boxes are publicity to help Steam Os get off the ground (since hardware will draw a lot of attention). And that eventually, people will be left behind with dead weight boxes with no steam sanctioned hardware upgrades. Why? because a small userbase, and a potentially fragmented one, is not worth focusing on. A year or two after release, the steam box will just be a memory older gamers on podcasts referenced, like the Gizmondo.

What? The boxes that will be sent out are going to be prototypes for a reason. Valve is known for taking their sweet time with whatever they're doing and they are doing the same approach with this by rolling out these prototype machines as a form of beta testing process so that they will be ready for a proper consumer launch.

#10 Posted by jayjonesjunior (1092 posts) -

Even the lowest is still pretty good, what about a crap SM that can only run games if you stream from a regular PC?

#11 Posted by ElixirBronze (435 posts) -

@andorski said:

  • In the article, Valve explicitly states that they do not believe high-end Steam Machines to be a product for the masses, but instead is something that a "significant percentage" of Steam users would want. So we can throw away the notion that Valve is setting up to compete against the PS4 and Xbox One in the console war. I take this to mean that Valve isn't looking to conquer the living room like Microsoft or Sony, but it just feeling out a potential market that can expand their Steam userbase.

I don't think that's what it means at all. They will have cheaper, lower end Steam machines too you know, probably comparable to PS4 and Xbox One both in terms of price and performance. I don't see why we should dismiss the idea. In fact, I think they very explicitly aim to take Microsoft down, otherwise they wouldn't bother making their own OS and a controller which, seemingly, a lot of design work and thought went into.

#12 Posted by Andorski (5346 posts) -

@super2j said:

@andorski said:

@pr1mus said:

The prices will likely be way lower than that. Off the shelf parts don't mean they'll buy them off the shelf. They'll buy in bulk directly from the manufacturers and save a ton of money.

Valve stated in the blog post that they do not view this as a product for the millions of potential buyers. It is a niche product that will appeal to a few.

Not a good sign. It sounds like after they come out, they just fade back into obscurity. This is starting to sound like the boxes are publicity to help Steam Os get off the ground (since hardware will draw a lot of attention). And that eventually, people will be left behind with dead weight boxes with no steam sanctioned hardware upgrades. Why? because a small userbase, and a potentially fragmented one, is not worth focusing on. A year or two after release, the steam box will just be a memory older gamers on podcasts referenced, like the Gizmondo.

I don't think Valve needs to sanction the hardware that people can upgrade their Steam Machine with. If SteamOS is suppose to work with user-built PCs and Steam Machines use off the shelf components, then Steam Machines should be able to use whatever PC hardware its user wants to upgrade with.

While I don't think Steam Machines are as big of a deal that Valve and its fans made it out to be during the reveal week, I think it is a first step to a logical plan Valve has to expand its marketshare. Valve starts by releasing SteamOS for current PC gamers and Steam Machines for the few that aren't into PC gaming but want a convenient way to enter it. SteamOS gains a number of users and Valve levies this to convince AAA developers to make games on Linux. More AAA games come to Linux and Valve uses all the extra features of SteamOS to get even more people into their ecosystem in the same way they got more and more people to use the Steam Client on Windows.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions though. Why would PC gamers move away from using the Steam Client in Windows to using SteamOS? Why would non-PC gamers want to enter the Steam ecosystem when there's the PS4 and Xbox One? Even if there is a growing number of people using SteamOS or other Linux-based OSes, why divert resources away from creating the Windows' version of a game (which is already a small percentage of multiplatform revenue compared to the Playstation and Xbox for a majority of games)?

#13 Edited by Andorski (5346 posts) -

@pr1mus said:

That doesn't change anything. They wouldn't even consider doing this if there wasn't a market of at least a few hundred thousands customers. They have what 50-60 millions users at this point. A small but significant portion of that is at least that, maybe even a couple millions. That still qualify for major savings. Plus they aren't going to build those themselves. And for any manufacturers producing steam machines as soon as they start building a couple hundred machines there's already significant savings to be made. Especially if companies like Asus or Intel decided to jump in where they could produce almost every components themselves.

Valve is trying to offer something that doesn't exist. But building computers with off the shelf parts for the same price anyone could get them already exist and is not something interesting to the segment of the market this push is trying to appeal to.

I don't understand the logic in thinking that if Valve goes with hardware manufacturers to build Steam Machines, that this would equate to savings on PC components. There are already dozens of pre-built PC hardware manufacturers. Dell/Alienware and HP as well as small company custom built PC makers like iBuyPower and CyberpowerPC. With a few exceptions (usually PSUs and motherboards) they create their PCs using off the shelf components as well. None of them sell their units below the sum of individual component parts. There is also Asus, who actually some produces PC components (motherboards and GPUs) and can save money by not buying hardware from other manufacturers. Even they though sell their PCs above actual cost.

#14 Posted by DifferenceEngine (71 posts) -

That power supply seems a bit low for such a build featuring a 3GB GPU and a Haswell processor. Yes, it meets the minimum, but that's awfully overpriced. I can get something with the same specs with 32GB of RAM and a blu-ray drive over at Newegg for $300 less.

#15 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1824 posts) -

These are going to be expensive. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Valve isn't manufacturing these themselves (they aren't a hardware company after all), but instead allowing various manufactures to make pre-built machines with Steam OS installed. If that is indeed the case, even low end machines are going to be hundreds more than XB1 and PS4.

It's going to be the old 3DO dilemma all over again: the manufacturers don't make any money off the game sales, so they have to profit on each unit sold, thus resulting in expensive hardware.

I once again fail to see who this targeted at. Any PC gamer knows that you save tons of money by building your own rig instead of buying something pre-built, so why is this going to be any different? It seems someone with even basic understanding could build their own "living room PC" for cheap, install Steam OS, and then just buy a steam controller separately if they want it.