The Steam Machines of CES 2014: Valve, Alienware, Gigabyte, Zotac and more
At the start of CES 2014 Valve announced 12 partners that will be making Steam Machines. As they've been unveiled we've been bringing you the news and now we have them here in one place. 2014 could be the year PC gaming overtakes consoles, even with next-gen Xbox One and PS4 systems. Which will you be tempted by?
Alienware, Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, Origin PC, Gigabyte, Materiel.net, Webhallen, Alternate, Next, Zotac and Scan Computers are the first companies officially signed on to support Valve's initiative.
Alienware Steam Machine
As you can see from the image, the unit looks great. It's 8 inches long and 3 inches high. It will deliver full 1080p gaming to your big screen - something even next-gen consoles are only just introducing. With an Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU it should pack plenty of gaming grunt. It'll also feature USB 3.0, HDMI in and out, Gigabit Ethernet and optical audio out.
Alienware has said that it will be creating a gaming machine that remains small, like the X51, but doesn't compromise on power.
Alienware says the Steam Machine will be available in 2014 along with an Alienware X51 Steam Machine.
Zotac Zbox Steam Machine
The Zbox, whose name os clearly aimed at console fans, is a compact Steam Machine that looks very much like a Wi-Fi router. The idea is you can hook the device to the back of your monitor or TV for Steam gaming without any clutter.
Detailed specs aren't confirmed by Zotac yet but so far we've been told the Zbox will have an Intel Core processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics, an all-black case with orange lighting, SteamOS pre-installed and a Steam controller and will arrive in the second half of 2014.
Digital Storm Bolt II Steam Machine
According to Digital Storm, the Bolt II has twice the cooling power of its closest competitor, thanks to an airflow design and 240mm radiator cooler. It also delivers top graphics with no compromise on performance. It’s for those who want a small form factor machine but enough power for a 4K display.
The Bolt II comes with a HydroLux control board for complete cooling controls and real-time heat monitoring. The system can also be used to control the internal LED lighting.
Bolt II goes on sale this month from $1,900 (£1,153).
SBX iBuyPower Steam Machine
Smaller than an Xbox One, the SBX will be SteamOS only, disc drive free, and will be capable of streaming. The CPU will be a quad-core Athlon X4 740 CPU and the GPU will be a Radeon R7 260 with AMD Mantle API support, all backed by 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. The spec may still change before launch but not drastically.
iBuyPower also planned to launch a second SBX with integrated Oculus Rift. Unfortunately the Rift part wasn't ready so we'll have to wait for this as glitches get sorted out.
SBX will be on sale early this year for $499 (£305).
Gigabyte Brix Pro Steam Machine
The cube shaped box houses a quad-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-4770R processor with an Intel Iris Pro 5200 chipset fro graphics and 8GB of RAM (expandable to 16GB) for grunt. The Brix Pro will also come with a 1TB HDD for plenty of Steam game storage, along with USE 3.0, HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi for connectivity.
The Brix Pro will come in black or red. There's no word on pricing or release date yet.
Valve Steam Machine beta
Valve got creative with the Steam Machine, sending it in a wooden crate instead of the normal device packaging we're used to. Inside the wooden box are the gaming machine itself, HDMI and USB cables, Steam Controller, a power cord, Wi-Fi antenna and recovery USB. This is shown by an unboxing gallery from Imgur user Colbehr.
The Steam Machine pictured by Colbehr is running a 3.20GHz Intel i5-4570 processor, 16GB of RAM, Zotac made GTX 780 GPU with 3GB of video memory, an ASRock Z87E-ITX motherboard, and Silverstone ST45SF power supply.
SteamOS is an operating system built around Steam. It uses Linux as an architecture, though the development team at Valve has built on top. The beauty of SteamOS is that it's free; you won't need Valve hardware to install it. Valve also plans to make it a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers, and is using the Steam Machine beta as an example.
Piixl Jetpack SteamOS machine
While this isn't one of the official Steam Machines it will come with Steam OS and is built to attach discreetly behind your TV so we've included it.
The Jetpack is an open gaming hardware platform that can be customised by the user. It is super-thin and is capable of housing some impressive tech inside, including overclocked Intel Core i7 processors, up to 1TB of SSD storage and the latest graphics cards from Nvidia, including the Titan and GTX780.
The Jetpack will be available from 1 January 2014 and prices will start around the $1,000 (£612) bracket. You can find out more from piixl.com.