Valve Software updated the Steam Universe group page with news that the studio will ship its Steam Machine prototypes to beta participants this Friday, December 13. The company has selected 300 eager gamers who will also test the company’s Steam Controller. All prototypes will come pre-installed with games that run natively on Valve’s Linux-based platform, SteamOS.
"The 300 selected beta testers are being notified today (at about 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time) that they’ll soon receive Steam hardware and SteamOS for testing," reads the blog. "Each selected user is also being awarded a special badge on their Steam Community profile, indicating that they’re a beta participant. In addition, a number of games that run natively on SteamOS are being added to each selected user’s library."
The blog reveals that all 300 testers are located in North America due to "regulatory hurdles". This was not the plan, the blog states, as Valve wanted to collect beta feedback from gamers across the globe. So the team decided to press on with North American customers only, as the only other alternative was to delay the beta “beyond the point when we’d be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products”.
The blog states that the commercial versions of Steam Machines won’t be affected by the same roadblocks the prototype units have faced. More information about the commercial versions will be made during CES 2014.
"SteamOS will be made available when the prototype hardware ships. It will be downloadable by individual users and commercial OEMs," the blog states. "(But unless you’re an intrepid Linux hacker already, we’re going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out.) We’ll post info soon about that. Oh, and stay tuned for the in-home streaming beta to begin soon, too!"
As stated months ago, the prototype units will have either a Nvidia Titan, GTX 780, GTX 760 or GTX 660 GPU. On the CPU front, some boxes will have Intel's Core i7-4770, some with the Core i5-4570, and some with Core i3 processors. Available RAM will be 16 GB DDR3-1600 (CPU) and 3 GB DDR5 (GPU), and storage will be provided by a hybrid SSHD with 1 TB for storage and 8 GB for cache. Power will be handled by an internal 450 watt 80 Plus Gold power supply.
The dimensions will be 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 inches, similar in size to the Xbox One.
So far we've seen two Steam Machines: