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By 8 October 2013 | Categories: news

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Since Valve announced its forthcoming Steam machines, the outstanding and unanswered question has been what hardware exactly its offerings will contain. Well, now the frequently obtuse company has revealed a few more details of their prototypes’ specifications, which also gives a fair idea of what the SteamBoxes will be capable of.

According to the company, the prototype that is being sent to 300 lucky hardware testers will be a “high-end, high performance box”, with specs that vary with regards to CPUs and GPUs.

Guts and glory

GPU’s included will range from an Nvidia GTX660 or GTX760 graphics card to a GTX780 or Nvidia Titan. On the processor side, there will similarly be a few offerings, with some of these 300 boxes boasting an Intel Core i7-4770, others a Core i5-4570, while yet some will have to make do with a Core i3 processor.

With regards to memory, users can expect to find 16 GB DDR3-1600 supporting the CPU, with 3 GB GDDR5 catering to the graphics processing unit (GPU). Storage, meanwhile, will be taken care of with a 1 TB/8 GB Hybrid SSHD. It should be noted though, that these specs are certainly up to the task of most modern PC gaming requirements, and certainly not shabby or cheap by any means.

The company stressed that this design is not meant to serve the needs of all of the tens of millions of Steam users. “It may, however, be the kind of machine that a significant percentage of Steam users would actually want to purchase - those who want plenty of performance in a high-end living room package. Many others would opt for machines that have been more carefully designed to cost less, or to be tiny, or super quiet, and there will be Steam Machines that fit those descriptions,” it elaborated.

Modders and builders welcome

No doubt music to the ears of custom PC builders’ who are carefully eyeing Valve’s bid to capture living room entertainment, is the fact that these prototype boxes as well as the finished product will be fully upgradeable, allowing any user to swap out the GPU, hard drive, CPU, and even the motherboard.

Indeed, Valve addressed these very users, particularly those who have already have a powerful gaming PC. It explained that its SteamBox prototype is not meant to replace that, but rather is intended to offer those users a way to “bridge the gap into the living room without giving up their existing hardware and without spending lots of money.” To this end, the company stated that it was working on ways to use its in-home streaming technology to accomplish this it, with more details to follow in the near future.

To the point

The company also explained that the Steam Machines available for sale next year will be made by a variety of companies. It pointed out that while some of those companies will be capable of meeting the demands of lots of Steam users very quickly, others will be more specialised and offer lower volumes.

Moreover, Valve fully expects the final hardware specifications of each of those machines will differ, in many cases substantially, from its prototype.

Perhaps more interesting is just how transparent Valve is being about the hardware, going as far as to state that it will share the CAD files for its enclosure as well, for those who wish to replicate it. To our minds, Valve is very clearly doing its utmost to lay the ground to more fully compete against the forthcoming PS4 and Xbox One.

However, what will really make the difference is the price point at which its SteamBoxes enter the market. As Cuba Gooding Jr famously extolled in Jerry Maguire, “Show me the Money!” is still very much a top concern when it comes to new hardware.

In other Valve news, reports of a trademark for Half Life 3 being filed sent tremors of excitement through the gaming community; alas, it was subsequently removed, indicating that it was merely a (cruel) hoax.

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