Valve has begun to ready its three hundred prototype Steam Machines which will ship to lucky Steam users who were selected to participate in the program.
Steam Machine is an initiative by the company to offer a user-configurable machine that shares some benefits with a closed environment similar to consoles thanks to SteamOS. Valve has said they will reveal their hardware partners for Steam Machines at CES 2014, along with demonstrations of prototypes and a final shipping date for some of the hardware.
To celebrate the beginning of the prototype beta Valve invited Engadget and The Verge to try out their Steam machine prototype and the Steam controller. The writers from both websites entered into the demo room with feelings of trepidation, they both appear to have left with changed opinions.
The prototype used was pretty close to Valve’s initial specifications – it packs in an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, a 1TB hard drive by default with 8GB of cache memory, 16GB of DDR3 memory, a 450W power supply, and takes up roughly the same space as Dell’s Alienware X51.
Engadget also played around with the SteamOS and came away slightly disappointed. The version they tried was a lot like Steam Big Picture, but had no way of playing media, looking at stored photos, or opening up a spreadsheet in Libre Office. Valve will only be supporting SteamOS as far as it’s actual capabilities go and with regards to drivers and system updates. Other functionality or applications that users load onto the system will be the responsibility of the user only.
The Verge enquired about Valve’s aspirations for future hardware builds and received some interesting answers. “We’re super interested in Iris Pro,” the team answered. On the subject of whether Intel or AMD might release specialised hardware for a future Steam machine, Valve employees merely stated that, “we don’t have an answer that we can give you before January.”
Valve’s Steam OS should be launching before the end of the year and will be available for all interested gamers to try out. The roster of Linux games is slowly climbing over 200 titles, but that is expected to increase as SteamOS launches and grows in popularity.