Zotac dives head first into the Steam Machine battle with a pint-sized gaming rig

Hankering to put some game into your living room setup? Zotac is the next manufacturer to jump into the Steam Machine fray with the NEN Steam Machine. This small form-factor box comes bundled with Valve’s new Linux-based OS and has competitive specs for gaming.

How competitive? The NEN Steam Machine is powered by a quad-core Intel i5-6400T, a chip with a base clock of 2.2GHz and a Turbo Boost of 2.8GHz, which is supported by an included 8GB of RAM with room for a second 8GB DIMM. The graphics card is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, a card that we reviewed highly for both its low price point and impressive 1080p performance.

For connectivity, the Zotac NEN is gracious enough to offer four HDMI 2.0 outputs, five USB 3.0 ports, one of which is Type-C, two ethernet ports, an SD card reader, and a Wi-Fi antenna hookup if your TV isn’t as close to your router as you’d like.

It’s built for living room gaming too, with dual radial coolers that keep things cool while staying quiet, and the LEDs can be disabled if you want to really keep the light from distracting you.

Like most Steam Machines, the Zotac NEN includes a Steam Controller, a two-touchpad-based gamepad manufactured by Valve. While a lot of games still don’t run on SteamOS, it’s quickly becoming more popular, and the low system overhead and free price point is a boon to system builders looking to expand gamers’ horizons.

As more and more companies start to realize the console-battling appeal of a SteamOS machine with an innovative controller, expect Valve to continue announcing new hardware partners. Zotac is just the first in what will hopefully be a long line of Steam Machines producers bringing new and interesting form factors to the market.

No word on availability just yet, but hopefully it will be soon enough to coincide with the other Steam OS devices that are beginning to roll out.