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PC Format Issue 286 Christmas

Glimpse of the future

"Is SteamOS the PC's future? Or is Valve just trying to make its own console?"

Boundaries are blurring. The hard distinctions of yesterday aren't clearly defined today, and there's a good chance they won't be there at all tomorrow. As a case in point, just look to the Xbox One and PS4. The next-generation consoles are essentially PCs, made up of slightly tweaked PC components, while PCs continue to extend into new and interesting area. Something Valve is set to capitalise on with its Steam Machines - console-like PCs designed to live near your television - which run SteamOS, the company's Linux-based rival to Windows.

The potential here sounds remarkable, at least initially, but as more information trickles out from Valve, the less impressed we are by the reality. The machines themselves may only be prototypes, but they're not very exciting to look at, and don't appear to do anything that we haven't seen before. Worse than the visual impact of these would-be consoles though, are the limitations Valve is putting on the OS. It's going to be for gaming only.

When you consider that there's a full PC in that boxy chassis, it seems a waste to not use it as general media player, web browser and all-round gaming machine that isn't just limited to accessing a Linux-limited Steam library. You know, just as Sony and Microsoft realised with their previous generation consoles, let alone the ones that they are just releasing. We don't just want our consoles to play games, we want to use them for other things as well, and surely the PC is in a better position than any other piece of hardware to do everything we want to use them for?

This issue we show you how to go one better than a Steam Machine running SteamOS. We show you how to build a full gaming PC, one that is tiny enough, and quiet enough, to have next to your television. And it isn't limited in what it can do either. Hell, it'll even run Steam...

Alan Dexter, Editor

alan.dexter@futurenet.com

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