It’s a little ironic, but one of the most-anticipated press events at CES was held by a company that, to my knowledge, has never presented there. I’m of course talking about Valve, and with its forthcoming Steam Machines, which is no doubt its biggest venture to date, it wanted to make as big a splash as possible. With the help of 12 different vendors, I think that’s been accomplished.
The official list of vendors to release Steam Machines in 2014 are:
We’re going to be talking a bit more about Steam Machines later this week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about a couple of models to kick things off.
First up is SPARK, from MAINGEAR. This Steam Machine aims to be as compact as it can be but still deliver ample gaming performance. At 4.5 x 4.23 x 2.34 inches, SPARK reminds me of a lot of ZOTAC’s ZBOX, and as it weighs under a pound, it’s not going to be a screamer. Still, it features a quad-core AMD A8-5557M processor clocked at 3.1GHz, and an AMD Radeon R9 M275X graphics card with 2GB of RAM. SPARK can also include up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 memory.
Connectivity-wise, SPARK includes 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x HDMI port, 1x mini-DisplayPort, 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Gigabit Ethernet.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is ORIGIN PC’s CHRONOS, which is little different from a high-end PC. It can sport an Intel Core i7-4770K processor, a GPU up to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 780 Ti, and up to 16GB of DDR3-2133. Given the ample amount of room available, storage options are quite good, and for those who appreciate it, your CHRONOS could be given an automotive finish.
CHRONOS sports some impressive hardware, so it goes without saying that it’s not going to come cheap. As with all Steam Machines at the moment, pricing is being kept under wraps.
The reason I chose to feature these two Steam Machines is because it shows just how flexible they can be. They’re a PC, plain and simple. MAINGEAR proved that SteamOS could run on a PC that can fit in a pocket, and ORIGIN PC showed us that high-end PCs can be put to good use as well.
During its event, Valve stated that all official Steam Machines will ship with its Steam Controller, which we talked about at its announcement, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of machines shipped with codes for some games to help get you started.
Valve didn’t give a specific date of when these Steam Machines will be launched, but all of it would hinge on when SteamOS is considered finished. Given the beta is rough around the edges, that could take a couple more months.