Has a prototype "Steam Box" been shown already?

The Internet is currently buzzing with rumors that Valve may be working with PC hardware makers on creating the specifications for what is being called a "Steam Box"; basically a PC desktop dedicated to PC gaming. Now there's a rumor that a Valve employee might have posted up a picture of one of Valve's prototypes for such a Steam Box months ago.

According to Kotaku, their unnamed tipster claims that Valve currently has between five to 10 people working on the Steam Box project, led by Valve team member Greg Coomer. Oddly enough, Coomer posted word on his Twitter page months ago that he was building a small PC. In a tweet from November, he even posted a picture of this PC. The message itself was, "Built this tiny PC. i7 quad core, 8GB ram, Zotac Z-68 mobo w/ onnboard Nvidia mobile gfx. Runs Portal 2 FAST."

Why is this significant? Because the article on The Verge that broke the Steam Box story claims the prototype that was allegedly shown to some possible hardware partners at CES 2012 in January was a "hand-built version of the device". Furthermore, it claimed the device had a "Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU."

The unknown source for the Kotaku story does claim that the specification for both Coomer's hand-built PC and the CES prototype "DOES NOT necessarily reflect what's going to be used as the 'baseline' specification for the final product(s)." So if Valve really is working on such a game console-like PC box, these hardware specs may be upgraded.

In any case, Valve has yet to comment publicly on these reports but it's possible that an announcement may come as early as this week during the Game Developers Conference, or in June at E3 2012.

Image via Greg Coomer

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JustinN said,

Anybody can build it, yes - but you might find that they will sell it for cheaper than you could build it yourself. Otherwise, I agree, why bother.

I doubt steam would make much money from these if such thing is true. I'd of thought the main money maker would be having more people buy games from them using this.

I'd buy it if it was powerful enough to run todays games at 1080p well. It's unfortunate that the mobile GPUs are still only as good as a several years old desktop GPU.

LaXu said,
I'd buy it if it was powerful enough to run todays games at 1080p well. It's unfortunate that the mobile GPUs are still only as good as a several years old desktop GPU.

My Mobile GTX555M plays Battlefield 3 as well as my 9800GTX. Considering the 9800 was a top end desktop card just 3 years ago and the 555M is a lower-midrange mobile chip, I'd say mobile cards are only about a year or so behind in terms of power.

Steam Box, with Kinect, to allow hands-free operation of Windows 8 and a new Steam program/interface that you can operate with Kinect or controller etc.

Looks neat, although I question the graphics capabilities of a unit that small. Maybe they housed it with a decent mobile GPU similar to gaming laptops. Then again, it's possible if they keep games at 720p and knock down the graphics settings by a few notches.

Interesting correlation between the specs posted yesterday, and the specs on that machine from months ago!

Well if it was a decent enough price why not? ... although knowing Valve the updates for the machine would be far and few between.