Valve cracks open specs for its Steam Box prototype, some are insane

Steam Machines
The silhouettes won't stand for much longer

Valve made a trio of Linux-in-the-living-room announcements last week, including a new OS and an oddball controller, but details for all were scarce despite the ticker-page fanfare.

But that's all changing today as Valve lifted the veil on some specs for its own Steam Machine prototype, due to ship later this year.

Alternately referred to as the Steam Box, Valve's Steam Machine will have some varying components when it heads to its 300 beta testers, parts that will either make it a mid-level gaming machine or take it the spectrum's higher end.

Steam Box prototype specs

Some Steam Box prototypes will land on doorsteps carrying a Nvidia Titan GPU, Valve wrote in a Steam Universe Community post. The Titan is the single fastest GPU card available right now.

Others will arrive with a GeForce GTX 780, GTX 760 or GTX 660 GPU.

Intel silicon was pegged as the device's CPU, and testers may receive a machine with an i3, i5-4770 or i7-4770.

All boxes pack 3GB of DDR5 RAM and feature a 1TB/8GB hybrid SSHD. An internal 450w 80Plus Gold power supply juices the machine from the inside.

While Valve isn't ready to show what the Steam Box looks like just yet, it did reveal that its dimensions measure approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 inches. It vowed to out the prototype's looks like before it ships to testers.

Valve hardware road map

Valve described its Steam Box prototype as a "high-end, high-performance box, built out of off-the-shelf PC parts."

It's fully upgradable, with users able to swap out any part they like, or build one from the ground up using the same components. Only the Box's enclosure would differ, Valve noted.

The Community post reminded gamers yet again that Steam Machines, when they start shipping next year, will launch from a variety of hardware makers, with different specs, prices and features.

The Steam hardware platform is due to change over time, Valve wrote, with upgrades made at users' discretion. The company plans to come up with a way to help customers understand the differences between Steam Machines, including strengths, weaknesses and upgrade decisions.

Finally, anyone worried Valve is out to replace PC gaming can shelve those concerns, for now.

"[There] are a lot of other Steam customers who already have perfectly great gaming hardware at home in the form of a powerful PC. The prototype we're talking about here is not meant to replace that," the post read.

The company is working on ways to bridge the gap between PC gaming in the living room without tossing PCs in the trash and purchasing a whole new device, it continued. Look for more on how Valve plans to do this (likely in the form of SteamOS details), plus "some closer looks at the Steam Controller" soon.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.