Steam have not only announced Steam OS (a fully dedicated operating system for the Steam platform) but have also created a lot of hype around a small, console-like modular PC the press have called the ‘Steam Box’. At first, many PC gamers thought that Valves Steam OS was simply a means to stream what was being played on your PC, to your living rooms big screen. However, Steam OS is giving Valve a potential break into the console market!
What is Steam Box?
Steam Box is Valve’s take on living room gaming! It takes a PC, Steam (an online games platform where gamers can download PC games directly to their hard drive with auto patch update and controller support) and a dedicated Linux gaming operating system (so PC gamers no longer have to loose large amounts of resources to the running of Windows, aniti-virus software and graphics card utilities etc.) and combines all these into a mini PC design. The player will simply keep this in their living room, connect to their TV and enjoy high-end PC gaming with controller support.
Valve also announced that gamers can still use a mouse and keyboard if they wish (great news for us FPS fanatics!).
UPDATE: XI3 corporation are the first to produce and put to market a Steam Box called the Piston Console.
Upgrading Steam Box
The Steam Box PC console will basically break the motherboard down into three pieces. This will enable individual, fully removable and upgradeable sections for the CPU and GPU. RAM uses the same upgrade sticks as your regular PC.
UPDATE: Valve have announced that prototype Steam Box units will come with Intel CPU’s (i7, i5 and i3 chips) and use 16GB of 1600 DDR3 RAM as standard. The GPU’s will also be Nvidia powered with Titan, GTX 780, GTX 760 and GTX 660 being available. All GPU’s will strive to come with 3GB GDDR5.
UPDATE: XI3 Corporation will release their Piston Console in November 2013 with a 3.2GHz quad core AMD Trinity CPU, 8GB GDDR3 RAM and Radeon HD 7000 series GPU’s (we currently expect Piston to ship with Radeon HD 7660 GPU upgradeable cards). The piston will also ship with 128GB SSD storage but this can be maxed to two 512GB SSD devices.
The Piston console is currently on sale for $999.99
Steam Box Manufacturers
We were pretty shocked to find that AMD are behind the first Steam Box units (with all the work they’re doing for Sony and Microsoft). However, Nvidia should still have their units pretty soon (and they should be able to focus much more on equipping theirs with much newer GPU’s).
Expect other manufacturers to come forward with their own PC consoles, very soon. This should also include Valve’s own (hopefully cheaper) version.
Is Steam Box a device sent from Skynet to destroy closed-console kind? Will console gamers take to such Steam Box units or will these devices only appeal to existing PC gamers?
One thing is for certain…Steam need to think about how different Steam Box spec systems can be marketed. If they’re really going for the console market, they’ll need to find some way of making the customer understand exactly what games are playable with different forms of Steam Box (or prepare for many returns).
We’re pretty confident Valve will find a way. Bookmark this page for the latest news on Valve’s Steam Box systems.