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Valve flexes impressive muscle of its Steam Machine prototype

Later this year, 300 prototypes of Valve's recently unveiled living room box will go out to select users for a beta test. Here are the specs at last.

Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

Valve has yet to select the users who will be receiving its Steam Machine prototypes later this year, but the Half Life creator announced Friday the highly anticipated hardware specs for the living room PC box. The initial verdict is that the prototype will be monstrously powerful, with hardware innards on par with those of a custom gaming PC setup that would go for well over $1,000, yet in a slim form factor.

"Valve didn't set out to create our own prototype hardware just for the sake of going it alone - we wanted to accomplish some specific design goals that in the past others weren't yet tackling," said Valve's Greg Coomer on the company's Steam Community forum. "One of them was to combine high-end power with a living-room-friendly form factor. Another was to help us test living-room scenarios on a box that's as open as possible."

In other words, Valve built the highest-end machine it could with off-the-shelf parts and expects to set a standard upon which others -- both manufacturers and everyday users -- can expand and explore. The prototype will be fully upgradable, allowing for a swapping out of the CPU, GPU, hard drive, and even motherboard Valve noted, as will any official Steam-branded unit to go on sale in 2014.

"Apart from the custom enclosure, anyone can go and build exactly the same machine by shopping for components and assembling it themselves. And we expect that at least a few people will do just that," Coomer goes on to say. Valve will also be making available the source CAD files for its Steam Machine enclosure in the event users who don't get their hands on a prototype want to replicate the design.

Here's a full breakdown of the prototype specifications from Valve:

  • GPU: some units with Nvidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
  • CPU: some boxes with Intel i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
  • RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB DDR5 (GPU)
  • Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
  • Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
  • Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 inches

Valve made sure to stress that this is in no way indicative of what the final products will look like.

"As we talked about last week, the Steam Machines available for sale next year will be made by a variety of companies. Some of those companies will be capable of meeting the demands of lots of Steam users very quickly, some will be more specialized and lower volume," Coomer says. "The hardware specs of each of those machines will differ, in many cases substantially, from our prototype."

Though no images of the prototype have yet to make their way online, Valve said it will let the public know what the machines will look like before they ship out for the beta, along with additional insights into the Steam Controller.