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Valve's Steam Machine range prepares for battle

Valve has revealed some hardware partners as well as a range of Steam Machine prototypes at CES 2014.

Can Valve's Steam Machine really threaten the console status quo? From what the company is showing at CES 2014, the answer is yes.

The Alienware Steam Machine (Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Valve has used the Las Vegas show to talk about just some of the PC manufacturers it's been working with for its Steam Machine gaming PC prototypes. These include Alienware, Zotac, Gigabyte and Origin PC.

The Steam Machine hardware was always only one arm of Valve's threefold push into the lounge room to take on the gaming dominance of the console market.

The other two have been SteamOS and the Steam Controller. Valve CEO Gabe Newell says that about 250 games have been ported to the SteamOS so far, and will play natively on Steam Machine hardware.

In terms of the Controller, Valve announced at CES that it will also allow third party Steam Machine creators to design their own controllers if desired.

It's the variety on offer than makes the Steam Machine such a different proposition to the consoles on offer. Officially, 14 different models of Steam Machine will hit the market this year, including Valve's own design, and prices are expected to range from as low as US$400 up to US$6000.

Steam has an install base of 65 million active users, making it a genuine juggernaut of influence. While the 250 Steam OS games may seem low, many of the manufacturers are looking at dual boot Steam Machines capable of running both Windows and Steam OS, making this an interesting proposition to even the most die-hard traditional PC gamers.

While the first Steam Machines won't be commercially available until the second half of 2014, Valve has certainly come out of its corner swinging, and the battle for the lounge-room gamer looks set to be a fascinating one.

(Credit: Sarah Tew)