14 companies will offer Steam Machines in 2014; many will dual boot Windows

As promised several weeks ago, Valve announced that a number of PC makers are joining in the company's quest to launch a series of Steam Machines, using the Linux-based SteamOS. Valve's press release, timed to coincide with their CES 2014 press event, shows that 14 OEMs have signed up to make Steam Machine;

The list of those PC makers includes:

  • Alienware
  • Alternate
  • CyberPowerPC
  • Digital Storm
  • Falcon NW
  • GigaByte
  • iBuyPower
  • Maingear
  • Material.net
  • Next Spa
  • Origin PC
  • Scan
  • Webhallen
  • Zotac

All Steam Machines will come with Valve's Steam Controller with its touchscreen and touchpad that replace the typical analog sticks. However, some of the Steam Machine OEMs on the list seem to be hedging their bets and have announced, separately from Valve, that their PCs will also have the option to dual boot to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

There will be a range of hardware specs and prices for the first Steam Machines, from low-end PCs that will cost $499 to high-end hardware products that will cost up to $6,000. However, all of them are designed to be small form factors that are made to be connected to a big screen TV. Stay tuned as Neowin will have chats today with the CEOs of two of the companies that will be coming out with Steam Machines.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Michael Bay melts down and walks out of Samsung's CES 2014 press event

Next Story

Intel dropping the McAfee brand for consumer products

59 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

who's the audience? console gamers? not happening as they HATE steam's intrusive DRM and lack of used disc based games thanks to sony's PR tactics.

PC gamers? they aren't going to give up their powerful rigs for this overpriced cases or buy this any more than they buy traditional gaming rigs.

steam boxes and OS seem to be set out to solve a problem that doesn't exist...well except for valve as they are being made irrelevant by the play store, app store and windows store. so can't blame them for trying one thing even as most of the gaming today is done on phones, not consoles or pcs.

With the exception of Digital Storm who made the Bolt I (Which I own and like better than the II) are for some reason more willing to break the basic box mold with SteamOS which is just a variant of Linux?

Interesting. They seem to really want to help SteamOS succeed. Though they just cost too much. You're going to need some killer games running killer engines on Linux to sell these $$$ boxes.

If the streaming works well and we can run media apps on it i might very well buy a low end Steam Machine and use it as an htpc.

Yeah there basically is no point to these. It's cheaper to build the PC yourself and install SteamOS on it.

I've never understood why these companies are spending time making these things. Hardly anybody is going to buy them.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Yeah there basically is no point to these. It's cheaper to build the PC yourself and install SteamOS on it.

I've never understood why these companies are spending time making these things. Hardly anybody is going to buy them.

Because everyone can build a PC ... that's probably why i see so many people with badly built oem PC with crapware pre-loaded bought in local computer stores. No wait i see so much of those cause most people can't actually build a PC.

Don't forget that a cool looking and good custom small computer case, one you wont be ashamed to put under your TV, usually cost around 100$ (and even more). The Steam controller alone will be around 60-80$ at the very least. You are already at around 150$ and you have yet to buy any components.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Yeah there basically is no point to these. It's cheaper to build the PC yourself and install SteamOS on it.

I've never understood why these companies are spending time making these things. Hardly anybody is going to buy them.

Yep. They're trying to create a market where one doesn't exist due to better alternatives already existing.

LaP said,

Because everyone can build a PC ... that's probably why i see so many people with badly built oem PC with crapware pre-loaded bought in local computer stores. No wait i see so much of those cause most people can't actually build a PC.

Don't forget that a cool looking and good custom small computer case, one you wont be ashamed to put under your TV, usually cost around 100$ (and even more). The Steam controller alone will be around 60-80$ at the very least. You are already at around 150$ and you have yet to buy any components.

The Steam Machines will likely have crapware on them as well. That's how these OEMs make a lot of their margins. Also, I doubt the steam controller is included in those prices, and you can find tons of HTPC cases for really cheap. I did a build not too long ago and bought the Cooler Master Elite 120 for $30. It's not the "VCR" shape of some of the ones above, but it's a very tiny ITX case. Point is you can find a lot of cases like that for well under $100.

In addition, I just don't see what SteamOS can do that Steam on Windows can't. From what I understand, SteamOS is a dumbed down version of Linux that will have a super limited game selection and won't run games as well since DirectX runs better than Direct3D. It just seems like a waste of time, and I can't come up with a single reason why anybody would want to bother with it. I'd much rather connect a Windows PC to my TV, have my full games library, and have a million times more functionality. How can they market these things?

Astra.Xtreme said,

The Steam Machines will likely have crapware on them as well. That's how these OEMs make a lot of their margins.

Never said they would not. But saying there's no point to it because people can build their own PC is mostly like saying there's no point to any oem pre-built computers which is not true.

LaP said,

Never said they would not. But saying there's no point to it because people can build their own PC is mostly like saying there's no point to any oem pre-built computers which is not true.

Fair point. The market they're targeting though are the hardcore gamers, and I'd assume a pretty high percentage of them know how to build a PC. Or at least know how to use YouTube.

Since there are so many companies building these things, I don't think any specific one will sell more than everybody else. So I'm willing to bet most of them drop out of the game and this "fad" dies off rather quickly. Just my opinion, of course.

If they are targeting hardcore gamers only they will fail. They should target the mainstream under the TV market as well (let's call it htpc capable of casual gaming). This is a market already covered by consoles but I think a less locked down and slightly more expensive device could work. To me consoles are too much locked down to be great htpc (no mkv support really that is fail beyond understandment). This is my opinion though some people would not agree with that. I can build my own htpc and put Steam OS on it of course but not everyone can. I think Steam Box (and Steam OS) if done right with apps support could have the potential to bring htpc to the mainstream. To be successful Steam OS needs to ship pre-installed on devices if not it's not going to be used enough and wont have any support. Personally i think a full blown windows is too much for an htpc.

1000$ is too much tough. There will need to be devices in the 600-800$. Apps support is imperative. It will surely fail. I don't think Valve has what it takes to fight Sony and Microsoft under the TV but it will be interesting to see what happens. If it can at the very least shake MS a little bit to make them care about PC gaming more then it will already be a gain.

I really wish Mantle and Steam OS both take some monentum to wake up Microsoft and make them remember PC gaming is not dead at all.

Honestly my PC is hooked to my TV and i play PC games with my XBox controller in big picture mode more and more these days. It's really cool just have to change the input of my TV and change the display of my computer and press the xbox button on the controller and voilà. I only sit in front of my PC to play multiplayer online fps, strategy games like Anno or rpg games like Shadowrun and LoG. I always play games like Rogue Legacy, Tomb Raider or Alan Wake on my TV. Just wish i did not have to run a really long HDMI cable across walls to do that lol

Edited by LaP, Jan 7 2014, 5:09pm :

LaP said,
If they are targeting hardcore gamers only they will fail.

Kinda what I hinted at. With the marketing and pricing it's clear they're going after a certain type of player. The issue is that player can get their kit (or build it themselves) for less money.

Others talk about the form factor and design. Sure they look nice. But I'd class myself as an avid gamer and I couldn't care less about what my PC looks like as long as I get good performance out of it. I look at the monitor...not the contours of my case.

You tell a parent the process of getting a PC gaming rig built, or even buying an off the shelf desktop, and adding in a PSU and graphics card.

They'd rather buy a laptop that can handle gaming at that point. That's where the Steam Machines could easily fill that gap.

If you don't need the "super set" ???

This is the whole iPad and Android tablets will never take off distorbed reality all over again. This is aimed at under the TV. Nobody needs photohop or Visual studio under his TV.

Steam OS will need to support apps tough for it to work. It can't work with gaming alone.

It will probably fail but not because people need a full-blown Windows under the TV.

Edited by LaP, Jan 7 2014, 4:15pm :

Its a cool option for PC gamers, but at this point it doesn't seem like direct competition to console gaming. Those are two different markets with largely different demos and I don't think console gamers will go for these in droves like some would have you believe. That said, they don't need to for this to be successful. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I think the status quo doesn't change much.

Probably would help reduce the barrier to entry and create a bigger scene for PC gaming. It's kind of senseless how poor of a selection there is when you go to a retail store and look for a PC gaming rig. Overpriced, and mostly in laptop form.

If you had an aisle of some of these machines, pre-installed with some games to demo in a store, I'm pretty confident it would turn some heads.

I would have thought these would be locked down, because isn't valves goal to sell you on the OS? who's gonna have one of these machines sitting there,without having the urge of installing windows on it and getting access to a significantly bigger library of games? as far as I know, the same big picture mode is available in the windows steam client as well.

They don't lose money on the hardware so they don't have to force you into their system. Valve's method typically seems to be to attract you, not force you. They want you to prefer to use their stuff. That seems sensible, you retain more customers that way. What good does it do them if you go online and say "I bought their box but hated their software so I formatted it"? They want to provide an attractive solution so that even if you can do that, you choose not to.

Valve likes focus testing and this is a big focus test for them. What do they have to do to keep you? This is a great way of dealing with the situation and also finding out what they need to do to be a success.

im obviously not talking about the hardware. the software part needs support for developers to bring their games over to the Linux platform. usage statistics will show weak demand if everyone is using windows, making this whole thing a waste of time

The software needs to exist for developers to target it, so it has to come first and then the games come after. The software is still in beta and is not yet finalized. With developers working on PS4 and Mac and Android software, it will already be easier to target SteamOS. If customers are using Windows then they are still using steam, and valve will get an idea of how to make Steam OS more attractive, but they win either way if people use the steam store.

Sounds cool, but so many different configurations! This might work against steam boxes by confusing people who are used to consoles, which is the target market. At least Valve has their own boxes to set the standard. I hope they don't stop producing their own models for that reason.

SteamOS is an OS, Steam Box is very close to a console, and targeted at console owners who wish to have access to the Steam Store. All these devices are differently configured steam boxes running steam OS, some will dual boot Windows.

Steam box is not anywhere close to a console. It is a ready setup PC that provides the minimal requirements for SteamOS and will soon show that different games will not run on the low end "SteamBoxes" or look like ****

I beg to differ. It's more a console than a traditional PC, it is plug and play like a console and uses the big picture mode interface and hides the desktop, the OS and updates are customized and curated by the same people responsible for the gaming environment, it has an integrated game store and boots to the game environment seamlessly, it's about as close as an actual PC can get to a console.

People who don't want to bother with gaming PCs will choose this over a PC for playing PC games.

They will offer low/med/high range configurations. They have yet to market the device and I'm sure it will be to their benefit to make consumers aware of the capabilities of each configuration. Why would they want the end user to have a poor experience and become disenchanted with the system?

So, they're basically just fancy-looking gaming PCs? I was expecting something much cheaper for a console, I just want that fancy ability to stream games from my gaming PC to my TV. For these prices I might as well just build myself another PC.

I imagine as time goes on, specialty integrated hardware will come out. Mainboard manufacturers will start to cater to the needs and integrate everything while omitting more components unnecessary to the specific purpose of gaming, etc. Even the valve box has a lot of unnecessary ports and the respective components that drive them.

you think this will be the first game-oriented distro that will actually work? and since games could run, maybe apps too, and there will be proper driver support and i could probably dump windows for it, and i need to stop dreaming

Wouldn't mind trying this since I could use another Windows 8 system and it's at least interesting, and I don't feel PS4 or Xbox One are trying very hard to earn my immediate business.

George P said,
I didn't expect to have any with the option to dual boot Windows, that probably didn't sit well with Valve.

Yeah I expect that it's a bit of a kick in the teeth, however from the point of view of the hardware distributors, it makes sense. People wanting to run their PC games can at least have the option of running their regular PC games on the Steam machines running Windows as well as the games ported to SteamOS.

They're basically still standard off the shelf PC components, the prototype disassembly proved it. The Steam Beta OS didn't really play nice in a multiboot scenario though, but that should be fixed in later builds. Besides, most programs and games still run on Windows.

0nyX said,
... 3DO ...

Exactly my thought.

However, unlike those other platforms, these are computer companies, not electronics companies. This is also a different market, so there may be some legs in this platform that caused previous efforts to fail.

Day 6 of 1014 and not looking great for your predictions John, this and google glasses with prescription pricing. Both being aggressively pushed.

With that said i am surprised how far Steam have come with this in short time. Great PC gaming.

Melfster said,
What kind of motherboards are they using? ITX? I guess this can only make ITX motherboards more mainstream.

From the cases alone, I suspect that there's a combination of mini-ITX and non-standard motherboards in them. The Scan one in particular is using a laptop graphics chip, so it probably has a non-standard motherboard.

Interesting to randomly see Scan on there, their pretty local to me.

Gaming PC's for non technical people might just work. It can only benefit the PC market if this takes off.

InsaneNutter said,
Interesting to randomly see Scan on there, their pretty local to me.

Gaming PC's for non technical people might just work. It can only benefit the PC market if this takes off.

Scan have been doing pre-built machines and own-brand hardware for a while now. It is quite interesting to see them partaking in the Steam machine war though. Good luck to them

Majesticmerc said,

Scan have been doing pre-built machines and own-brand hardware for a while now. It is quite interesting to see them partaking in the Steam machine war though. Good luck to them

I've noticed the pre-built systems have been on the site for a year or two now, it's pretty good idea as they look to be built with quality parts, indeed nice to see them expanding

InsaneNutter said,

Interesting to randomly see Scan on there, their pretty local to me.


Interesting to see a Bolton based computer firm advertising prices in US$ rather than UK£.

InsaneNutter said,

Gaming PC's for non technical people might just work. It can only benefit the PC market if this takes off.

Yes, and especially since a game that will run natively on SteamOS will also work on regular Linux machines with the Steam client too.

DJGM said,

Interesting to see a Bolton based computer firm advertising prices in US$ rather than UK£.

I expect that is because CES is a mainly US affair, so it's easier to show the hardware cost relative to the rest of the competition by using the same currency. Hopefully UK prices will make themselves available in the near future.

Those that dual-boot with Windows 8 have my interest. Basically they're relatively cheap but also relatively powerful PCs.

Microsoft should consider adding the option to 'unlock' Windows 8 on Xbone.

If you could run windows 8 on the xbox one it would be a massive boost over the PS4. You could access to steam, pc games and flash games. Also it would be a much bigger media device as you could use the likes of spotify, itunes, amazon, torrents.

Even though it would be technologically possible, it won't happen as it's not really in Microsoft interests to do that.

Theoretically that's already possible as the Xbox One OS is basically a retooled Windows 8 with a closed approach. Valve only needs to make a Steam Metro client.
TBH, none of the currently announced Steam boxes look appealing to me and I probably could build my own SFF PC with the same specs for a lesser amount of cash.

Gaffney said,
If you could run windows 8 on the xbox one it would be a massive boost over the PS4. You could access to steam, pc games and flash games. Also it would be a much bigger media device as you could use the likes of spotify, itunes, amazon, torrents.

Even though it would be technologically possible, it won't happen as it's not really in Microsoft interests to do that.

Perhaps not if all consumers had access from the start screen. It would also make the XBone less intuititive as Windows 8 isn't designed for consoles. Since the experience wouldn't be consumer-friendly the option to unlock Windows 8 should be hidden away. Something only those with tech know-how can access.

It's not as if Microsoft would lose game sales because as a PC the Xbone wouldnt be nearly as powerful. Microsoft would basically offer a console and media-station and Windows PC in one. This would be an interesting option for core gamers and make the 500 dollar price seem very cheap.

Steam OS and Windows on the Xbone will hurt Microsoft .
Why? People will "Alt-Boot" to Steam market and frown upon Microsoft Store.
Gaming PC have no credits today, everybody praises consoles. Newell tries to change that!

Decebalvs Rex said,
Steam OS and Windows on the Xbone will hurt Microsoft .
Why? People will "Alt-Boot" to Steam market and frown upon Microsoft Store.
Gaming PC have no credits today, everybody praises consoles. Newell tries to change that!

You really think the average consumer will unlock Windows 8 and go through the hassle of installing PC games? The average consumer praises consoles for a reason. PC gaming can be cheaper if you make an investment of time to do the necessary research. Clearly most consumers won't do this. But having the ability to unlock Windows 8 will interest core gamers and tech enthusiasts that are still undecided between XB and PS.

Besides as a PC the XBone isn't nearly as powerful. It's the specific set of specifications that allow console developers to get more out of a console's hardware. They can better optimize the experience and continue to release beautiful games long after the console has become outdated. As a PC it will soon be low-end and not an interesting option for PC gamers.

Basically what I'm saying is that someone is going to offer living room PCs such as the Steambox, it might as well be Microsoft. This has Always annoyed me about consoles. So much power under the hood but they wont use all of that power. Forcing me to buy multiple devices to record TV, play games, watch downloaded content, etc. If a 500 dollar console can do all of that then its money well spend. The XB already is able to receive the TV signal so it has the hardware capabilities.