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Late last year, Valve unveiled what is potentially its largest-scale project to date: the expansion of the Steam platform. As part of that growth, the company that brought the world Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress is bringing to the table a game-focused computer operating system, a brand new take on controllers, and a wide range of living room gaming PCs they’ve dubbed Steam Machines.

At this year’s consumer electronics show, which just wrapped up this month, Valve unveiled the 13 hardware manufacturers they’re working with to take the Steam Machine concept to market. This includes the likes of some unknown names like Zotac and Webhallen, and household ones like Alienware, iBuyPower, and Origin.

Each of these machines have wildly varied prices and technical specs, and each is made to support a specific target audience. But anyone can step up and produce a Steam Machine, according to Valve, even the consumer. But to sell one on the market, it only has to meet two very simple requirements – it must ship with SteamOS, Valve’s in-house, Linux-based gaming operating system for playing Steam games, and a Steam Controller (the most substantial of which Valve is building themselves right now).

Additionally, anyone with the know-how and desire can build their own Steam Machine, and in fact, Valve encourages it as they always have. After all, the company’s head and founder, Gabe Newell, credits the company’s success to the openness of the PC – and he says the company wants to extend that philosophy into the SteamOS and Steam Machine initiative.

But we’ll save the discussion on custom building a Steam Machine of your own for a later video, since final requirements have yet to be nailed down. If you want to know our thoughts on SteamOS in its current state, we actually did build a machine of our own, and you can click to check out our video feature on the whole process.

For now, let’s talk about the machines each company showcased at Valve’s keynote at CES. And to give it some organization, let’s go from lowest price to highest.

CyberPowerPC & iBuyPower

The two lowest cost machines are the CyberPowerPC and iBuyPower options, and both start at $499. The CyberPowerPC machine has a processor choice between an AMD or Intel i5, a graphics card option of a Radeon R9 270 or an Nvidia GTX 760. The IBuyPower machine gives you a choice of a quad-core AMD or Intel series chip for processing, and uses an unspecified Radeon graphics card.

Both the CyberPowerPC machine and the iBuyPower machine come with 8GB of RAM and 500+ GB of internal storage.

Zotac

Next up is the $599 Zotac machine, which contains an intel processor and an Nvidia card, neither of which were given specific model numbers. Also unspecified were the details of the RAM and hard drive. This model does stand out as a wireless machine, given its dual antennas in the back, making it look a lot like a large router.

Material.net & Scan

The next two that are in the same price range are the Materiel.net machine for $1,098, and the Scan NC10 machine for $1,090. The Material machine very specifically contains an Intel Core i5 4440, an MSI GeForce GTX 760 GFX card, 8GB of RAM, and a combination 8GB and 1TB SSD set for storage. The small and slim, almost Nintendo Wii-esque SCAN NC10 is just as specific with its specs, containing an Intel Core i3 4000M processor, an Nvidia Geforce GTX 765M graphics card, 8GB of Ram and a 500Gb hard drive.

Alternate

In the same way that it looks like a subwoofer, the Alternate Steam Machine seems to pack a lot of power. And much like nice subwoofers, it costs a pretty penny — $1,339 to be exact. It includes an intel i5 4570 processor, a Nvidia Gigabyte GTX 760, 16GB of Ram and a 1TB SSD for storage.

Webhallen

The Webhallen machine seems large enough to store the intense guts it’s packing, which include an intel core i7 4771, an Nvidia GTX 780, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. This machine will run you $1,499 when it launches later this year with SteamOS.

Next Spa, Origin PC, & Gigabyte

There are 3 Steam Machines without an official price, and those are the Next Spa, Origin PC, and Gigabyte machines – all likely to be quite expensive. Their individual specs and design choices are quite varied, but all focused on packing some decent punch at the very least.

Digital Storm

Digital Storm is a computer company known for its intensely impressive (but also expensive) custom gaming pcs. They’re building a Steam Machine too, as one might expect, and it packs a whollop for those with over $2500 to throw down. It includes an intel i7 4770k, a GTX 780 TI from Nvidia, 16GB of Ram, and a combination 1TB HDD (for storage) and 120GB SSD (for storing the OS).

Falcon Northwest

Arguably the most expensive and ridiculous of the Steam Machine options is that of the Tiki machine from Falcon Northwest – which can be customized to range in price from $1,800 to a whopping $6,000. That means a customizable processor choice, an Nvidia Geforce GTX Titan card for graphics, 8 to 16GB of Ram and, hold on to your seat, up to 6 terabytes of storage space.

Great overpriced consumer options, Batman.

Alienware

Finally, there’s what seems to be Valve’s flagship partnership, the Alienware Steam Machine. No hard details about this machine have surfaced, including the sought-after price, but Alienware says it’ll include an Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU. More importantly, it’s said to be priced competitively with next-generation consoles like the Xbox One and PS4, which would put it near the $400-$500 marker.

It’ll be out in 2014, according to Alienware.

Gabe Newell was brief in what he had to say at Valve’s CES showcase, but was quite concise in what their philosophical goal of this first generation of Steam Machines is.

“The first generation Steam Machines offers something for every gamer, which is a critical part of extending Steam into the living room. With over 3,000 games and more than 65 million gamers on Steam, it’s important to offer gamers a variety of Steam Machines that allow them to select what makes the most sense for them.”

Well, Valve and friends, let’s see how you do this year. Now, do us a favor and ship out that controller already – some of us are dying to try it out. But we’ll save that for another video.

Thanks for watching everyone. If you have thoughts on Valve’s Steam Machine intiative, be sure to post your thoughts in the comments, and hit up BestTechie.com for all the latest news on what Valve’s up to. We’ll see you there.


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