Have you been waiting for the opportunity to get your hands on Valve’s couch friendly Steam Machine? The first official SteamOS boxes will be hitting stores later this year, and you can preorder the Alienware and Syber Steam Machines starting today.
The Steam Store now lists a slew of computers for sale built around Valve’s own Linux distribution, designed specifically for gaming and web browsing with a game controller. Most of them will ship starting November 10th, but if you choose one of the Alienware or Syber options, you could have it as early as October 16th.
According to a quote obtained by Forbes from an Alienware spokesperson, part of the reason for this first wave is to iron out any kinks before the rest of the machines hit the market. “We’ll be able to get that first wave of feedback…That’s what comes from an open PC ecosystem is the ability to take those lessons learned and apply them – from the software aspect – to a better gaming experience.”
Under the hood, the Alienware Steam Machines are competitive gaming systems. At the basic end, for $449, you can have a dual-core Intel Core i3-4130T, which has a base clock of 2.9GHz, plus 4GB of RAM. You also get a 500GB, 7200RPM hard disk, 802.11 Wi-Fi, and they’ll throw in a Steam Controller.
Shell out $749 for the top end, and you’ll get a quad-core Intel Core i7-4765T, with 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. The two base models have some reduced connectivity, but if you go with $649 or higher versions, you’ll get both a quad-core processor, and the bump to 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Lacking from the above is the graphics card. That’s because they all have the same GPU, which is simply described as an Nvidia GeForce GTX with 2GB of DDR5 RAM. The original Alienware Alpha was powered by an Nvidia GTX 860m with 2GB of RAM, so it’s not unreasonable to think the performance will be somewhere around, if better than, the graphics on the Alpha. A GTX 960M seems likely, but that’s just our guess.
The Syber Steam Machine starts at $499, and for that price you get a dual-core i3-4160, 4GB of RAM, and a GTX 750 with 1GB of VRAM. At the top end, for $1,419, you get a quad-core Intel Core i7-4790K, 1TB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, which is capable of 4K gaming. All three machines use standard components, and are fully compatible with upgraded parts if you decide to up your GPU down the road. They also include a mini keyboard and trackpad setup, with the option to buy Steam Controllers.
In addition to the new lineup of Steam Machines, Valve also added the Steam Link and extra Steam Controllers to the store, both for $49 each. The Steam Link is a small box with ethernet, HDMI, and three USB ports. It doesn’t run SteamOS, but rather is designed to take advantage of the in-home streaming built into Valve. It uses the power of another computer on the same network to render the game, and then streams it to the Link anywhere else in the house.
Valve’s resdesigned Steam Controller is built for couch gaming, with a number of special features specific to Steam. Instead of joysticks, two large trackpads dominate the front face of the controller, with a standard joystick down a little lower. For buttons, there’s a four-button pad on the front, with Start, Select, and Steam buttons in the center. The rear shoulder buttons have both a digital switch, and analog sensor, so you always have the right tool for the job. Controls are fully customizable for each game, with community support for button layouts.
With so many Steam Machines projected to launch in November, we’ll no doubt see specs and pre-order information in the next few weeks, as well as more announcements from manufacturers hoping to bring systems to market.