Steam Machine : Console integrated with PC.

What is it?

Steam Machine is a line of pre-built gaming computers that are being manufactured and distributed by a number of vendors using a range of different design specifications outlined by Valve Corporation. It is the future, it will replace all the living room consoles with a gaming PC. It is portable and built in with great hardware that consoles can only dream off.

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All Steam Machines will either run on Steam client or the SteamOS version installed on them. Most pre-built Steam Machines will be upgradeable and modular to varying extents, much like traditional gaming PCs.The pre-built Steam Machines will have a wide range of hardware options ranging in performance, size and price. Valve Corporation has stated that the Steam Machines will be available on November 10, 2015. The Steam Machine is said to come with a Steam Controller and a Steam link.

Zotac Steam Machine

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Under the Hood & Support

This is where it’s a fairyland for all the manufacturers. The Steam Machine is so diverse that it comes in a whopping 15 designs, covering virtually every price point and internal component configuration. They’re all small, though—these are supposed to fit in a home theater cabinet.

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Valve has done some tests on Beta units in 2013.There must be a slight change in the design and hardware from then because it’s a couple of years old.

The core part of the machine configurations was the method of providing ventilation and cooling of the CPU, GPU, and power supply. Valve engineered custom compartments within the beta units so that each one of the units had separate circulation and ventilation routes.

Variants

Valve has been working with vendors which include Alienware, Falcon Northwest, CyberPowerPC, Origin PC, Gigabyte, Materiel.net, Webhallen, Alternate, Next, Zotac, Scan Computers, and Maingear to manufacture different variants of Steam Machine. The price range of these first machines ranged from $499 to $6,000 based on vendor and specifications.

Steam Controller & Link

The Steam Controller is designed not only for games developed for console users, but also for games traditionally played with keyboard and mouse controls so that they can be played through the controller. It features two high-resolution clickable trackpads (replacing the typical thumbsticks on modern control controllers), and sixteen buttons, including face, shoulder, and undergrip buttons. The trackpads include haptic feedback, which can send tactile feedback to the player in reaction to events within the game. Sounds cool and way different from the normal controllers.
Although the controller is designed for the Steam Machine platform, it can also be used with Steam on existing PCs. It doesn’t come with a Touchpad.

Steam Controller

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Steam Link with the Steam Controller

The Steam Link is a standalone device which enables streaming of Steam content from a computer or a Steam Machine wirelessly to a television, including integration of Steam Controller functionality.

Games

Games will be developed to run natively on Linux and SteamOS. Linux compatibility is already a feature offered through the Steamworks API, and according to Paradox Interactive, all of their recent games that have been designed to work with Steam under Linux will also run under SteamOS without additional modifications. Valve will not make games that are exclusive to SteamOS or Steam Machines, and has cautioned third-party developers against making games exclusive to the platform.

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However, Valve will not stop developers from making SteamOS exclusive games, particularly those that are best suited for playing from the living room. Players will also be able to stream games from regular PCs running Steam to Steam Machines, allowing access to games that are only available for Windows or OS X. Through SteamPlay, users can play games available on SteamOS that they already own on Windows or OS X and will not need to repurchase the title. The popular Steam games available on Windows will not be on the SteamOS, so this might hurt them.

Conclusion

Steam Machine is huge leap in gaming technology. Imagine the potential this has to offer to the developers. Combine all the prime features of a console and a PC you get the Steam Machine. It offers great choice in performance,cost and design. Here’s the backdrop of the whole discussion, Steam Machine offers fewer games than a PC does.

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The issue is that SteamOS has just launched and can’t compete with the games offered on Windows. If this was to improve then Steam Machines would be a grand success and PC gamers might even consider to switch. SteamOS will be defined by the games it can’t play until it offers any sort of advantage that Windows can’t.

                                                                                                                       -Srikar

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