Valve has issued more details about the hardware in the prototype models of its Steam Machine console. The specs may vary significantly from the final hardware releases, but show the general approach the company is taking.
The console will be released next year but 300 gamers will be able to test the prototypes. As we’ve previously noted, the long-term aim is to produce different versions with different emphasis, such as size or price.
With the first release, though, the emphasis is on customization. Valve says that the prototype (and likely the first retail release) will be build entirely from off-the-shelf PC components with the exception of the casing, though CAD files will be available for that as well. The idea is that you could take a Steam machine and change every component in it, build an exact replica of a Steam machine yourself, or anything in between. The initial model will also favor performance above other factors.
The prototypes will also use a mix of processors, possibly to check comparative performance. Each will have one of four possible graphics processors (GTX660 , GTX760,, GTX770 or NVidia Titan) and one of three possible CPUs (Intel i3, i5-4570 or i7-4770.)
All the machines will be the same size at 12 inches by 12.4 inches by 2.9 inches, and each with 16GB of RAM assigned to the CPU and 3GB assigned to the GPU. There’ll also be a hybrid storage system with a 1TB traditional hard drive and an 8GB SSD.
The company also says it plans to explore ways for people who already have high-powered PC gaming set-ups to efficiently stream to their living rooms rather than have to buy a whole new system.
Valve has also announced details of the custom controller for the Steambox (pictured), which will be an entirely original component. In place of thumbsticks it has two circular trackpads which look a little like audio speakers; as well as offering a similar level of positioning control as is found in a mouse, the trackpads are clickable and thus double-up as buttons. There’s also a central touchscreen which also recognizes the difference between a swipe and a “click.”
The pads contain electro-magnets that can produce vibration in differing strengths and directions, the idea being to offer more nuanced haptic feedback than comes from existing “rumble” features in console controllers. Valve says the controller work with all existing and future games in the Steam catalog.