A Steam Machine by any other name: ROG launches GR8 "console gaming PC"

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Aloysius Low/CNET

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Valve may have delayed its own Steam Machine hardware until 2015, but that's not stopping third-party manufacturers from showing off what's they've got in the works.

Asus' Republic of Gamers -- ROG to its friends -- is one such brand, using the Computex trade show to give gamers a look at it's GR8 "gaming console" PC.

It's a quite beautiful, if simple, design, sporting the traditional red and black ROG colours. It's basically shaped a little like a book standing upright, but with the corners cut at the bottom to give it a certain aesthetic flourish.

It's significantly smaller than any of the next generation consoles on the market today but we wouldn't call it unobtrusive -- it's very obviously a gaming device rather than, say, looking like a piece of loungeroom home entertainment kit.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Inside there's an Intel Core i7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750Ti GPU. ROG says that the GR8 should be able to output 4K Ultra HD graphics without breaking a sweat. Both storage and memory have been set up to be easily upgraded should the need arise.

Both HDMI and DisplayPort connections are available, as well Miracast for connected smart TVs. Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac are both present, as well as four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0.

The GR8 will be compatible with both SteamOS and the Steam Controller, according to ROG, but will run Windows 8.1. There will also be a version of the GR8 with SteamOS as the default operating system -- this verion will be out "in alignment with Valve's Steam machine schedule" and it may explain why ROG is being so coy about calling this particular model a Steam Machine.

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Aloysius Low/CNET

Of course, with the Steam Controller back on Valve's drawing board, it's not clear how much appeal the GR8 will have. Arguably it's the controller that's the real "secret sauce" that PC gaming needs to make a mark on the lounge room.

That said, the GR8 remains a well-specced, slimline gaming PC. How much would you expect to pay? Good question -- ROG didn't have an answer to that, but did say to expect it in the third quarter, just like nearly every other product we've seen at Computex. That Q3 is going to be crazy.

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