For a couple of years now Valve has been developing and promoting the concept of what has become their Steam Universe. The Linux-based SteamOS running on top of console-sized Steam Machines for the living room, controlled with the Steam Controller. Now after becoming subject to Valve Time and delayed from 2014, today Valve and their partners are announcing that Steam Universe is finally launching later this year.

Steam Controller

First and foremost, let’s start with the Steam Controller. The final version of Valve’s controller is pretty much identical to what we saw at GDC 2015, featuring what has become the controller’s signature touchpads, along with an analog stick, motion controls, haptics (vibration), and what Valve is calling dual-stage triggers, all communicating with host systems over Bluetooth. Though ultimately lacking the touchscreens of Valve’s original design, the final controller retains the touchpads and the same goals Valve had held to since the start: making more traditional mouse-driven PC games playable on the couch with a controller. Valve has put up a short promotional video showing it in action, and it will be interesting to see if it works as well in real life as Valve would like it to. When not part of a Steam Machine bundle, Valve will be selling the Steam Controller stand-alone for $49.

Steam Machines

Next up, this brings us to Valve’s Steam Machines initiative. With last year’s delays we’ve seen a few of the initial Steam Machines reissued as Windows machines in the interim, but now with Valve finally ready to ship on their end, the full collection of Machines will be available. In terms of design all of these Machines are all small form factor designs intended for the living room, with the actual designs being a mix of existing SFF designs – such as the Gigabyte BRIX Pro or the Falcon Northwest Tiki – while other designs being brand new entirely.

Meanwhile as far as performance and costs go, the initial wave of Machines run the gauntlet from low-powered, console-like computers to high-end machines that are meant to take a stab at 4K rendering. The cheapest machines start at $449, such as the Alienware in its low-end, Core-i3 powered configuration, and also the iBuyPower SBX. Meanwhile at the middle of the pack are machines like the Zotac SN970 at $999, and finally at the high-end the sky’s the limit. With many of these designs accepting desktop class CPUs and video cards, the price tag on the top configurations can go into the thousands of dollars, with Falcon Northwest quoting $4999 for what will be their top-end Tiki.

As one might expect, all of the Steam Machines are shipping with one Steam Controller, with additional controllers available from Valve for $49. Meanwhile the very first Steam Machines from Alienware and Syber are already available for pre-order from GameStop and Syber respectively, while the rest are slated to be available in November. The pre-order machines are said to be a “limited quantity” (though we don’t know just how limited), and will be shipping on October 16th, for gamers who are willing to order the machines before the reviews and formal launch. Otherwise we’re expecting to see everything else go out around November 10th.

Steam Link

Finally, we have the Steam Link, Valve’s in-home streaming receiver for Steam. Intended to be used with Steam’s existing, built-in streaming technology, the Link is designed to allow playing Steam games in other locations away from the host PC/Machines, be it things like spare bedrooms or locating the host in said spare bedroom and putting the Link in the living room. The Link features a 2x2 802.11ac for wireless connectivity, or a 100Mbit Ethernet port for wired fallback, along with a trio of USB 2.0 ports and of course the necessary HDMI port.

Valve will be selling the Link on its own for $49, while a package with the controller will be $99, and somewhat surprisingly for a consumer device these days, Valve’s even throwing in HDMI and Ethernet cables. As with the Steam Machines, the Link is available for pre-order through Valve or at GameStop, with a limited number of the devices shipping on October 16th.

Source: Valve

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  • minijedimaster - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    Yeah, so easy and low bandwidth. That's why they're only doing 1080p. Reply
  • minijedimaster - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    Also, the realistic number for compressed 4k video streaming at 60fps is about 32Mbs. Just FYI. Reply
  • funkforce - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    Hello,

    I'm just assuming now that one would want to play games on one's Steam Machine.
    Would you not want to by and download full games on it?

    Lets just say you live in Sweden, like I do, where 100Mbit broadband connection is the norm and a lot of ppl. even has 250Mbit. And 1Gbit is becoming more and more common, with some cities implementing it in their core "city net" which a majority of the inhabitants are hooked up to.

    Now lets say I'm a hard working man, I have a couple of kids and not many hours in the week that I can do some gaming on. Lets say it's late Friday night and the misses and the kids are asleep, I have maybe 2-3 hours of gaming to do. I turn on my Steam Machine, which I haven't been able to use for 2 weeks and search for new games. Ahaa I want to download and play Battlefield 4! Oooh it's a 60GB download in total. Lets see, I have an SSD in my Steam Machine, but my 100Mb conection will top out at 12.5MByte/s which means around 1h and 5 minutes to download the game, that would take away 33-50% of my possible gaming time.
    Naah too long, lets find another game... Oh the Witcher 3 I want to play that. Wait it's a 35GB download... damn. Wait I've wanted to play Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor for a while, lets get that, I've heard its really good. Gaah 35GB...! I want to play something now.

    Hmm if the Steam Machince had a 1Gbit network card I've could have downloaded these games in 4-7 mins. And I just bought this machine, the games are going to be bigger next year probably, wow I wish they spent those 2$ extra on a Gigabit card as I guess the broadband's and infrastructure becomes better around the world each year and I assume they don't think I will upgrade my Steam Machine each year.

    Now maybe I'm totally mistaken and the Steam Machine will only be for streaming, never downloading anything onto it, and then you can just ignore this comment.
    Reply
  • piiman - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    Plan ahead you can be spontaneous with your wife, unless you have to download her also. :-) Reply
  • Bladen - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    Yes, you are mistaken. The previous posters are talking about the optional Steam Link device, not the (various) Steam Machines.

    Each Steam Machine will have a different setup, but I'd say most will have a 10/100/1000 network card in them, so your dilly of a pickle will never be realised.
    Reply
  • AS118 - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    Well, without Valve releasing something like Half-Life 3, Portal 3, or Left 4 Dead 3 on Steam Machines as an exclusive (or at least Linux-only) I don't know how well these machines will sell.

    Sure, enthusiasts will buy them, and I'm considering getting one myself if they release one with some AMD parts inside, but the general population at large doesn't have much of a reason to get these over a PS4, imho.

    More complexity, less consistency in hardware, and not necessarily more power either.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    Personally, I'm interested in the ultra compacts, since they will run windows and I prefer them over gaming laptops.

    I looked at Alienware Alpha and Asus GR8, but was not satisfied with their GPU or ease of upgrading storage, so the Zotac SNC970 was a nice addition to the lineup.
    Reply

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