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Zotac Steam Machine Will Have Intel Skylake CPU

On Wednesday Zotac International introduced its upcoming Steam Machine, the SN970, slated to be released in November, which is Valve's target for the final release of Steam OS and the Steam Controller. The company's Steam Machine design is based on its popular ZBOX form factor, but has been fashioned to be friendlier in the living room scenario, sporting rounded edges and a slightly elevated base for greater airflow. At GDC 2015, the prototype Zotac was seen sporting a Steam logo on top. It's bigger than the company's Mini PC -- about 21 cm square (a little over eight inches).

Unfortunately, the initial announcement was void of any set hardware details. However, the company said during GDC 2015 that the console will be powered by Intel's sixth-generation Skylake (the Core i-5 with four cores) processor and Nvidia's discrete GeForce GTX 970M GPU. The latter will enable the console to connect to as many as four displays simultaneously.

Since Skylake hasn't been officially unveiled, the exact configuration details are unknown. Jacky Huang, director of Zotac products, said that he expects the CPU to consume between 35 - 45 W, while the GTX 970 will take on about 50 W, for a total TDP of about 100 W. Huang said the unit would be actively cooled, likely using two larger fans at lower speeds to keep things quiet.

"Nvidia Surround and Steam Big Picture bring the immersive experience to users on the big screen," Zotac said in a press release. "All the next generation technologies are fully employed - including VXGI, MFAA and DSR - and take full advantage of the beautifully designed in-game scenarios."

In addition to those specs, the upcoming Steam Machine will include an M.2 SSD providing 64 GB of internal storage and an additional 2.5-inch hard drive providing 1 TB of storage. Other hardware goodies lined up include Wireless AC connectivity that will provide both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and Valve's highly-anticipated Steam Controller. There are two USB 2.0, and four USB 3.0 connections, and Huang said that between now and November, some of those might be USB 3.1. The four HDMI ports are version 2.0, and Huang said that the Mini-DP port would become an HDMI In port.

Zotac also revealed on Wednesday that the upcoming Steam Machine will have Valve Software's SteamOS operating system pre-installed. That should cut down on the overall price tag of Zotac's console given that SteamOS is offered for free. However, that's some beefy hardware. Huang was hesitant to speculate about pricing, but he also said the margins on the product would be pretty slim; we wouldn't be surprised to see it tickle the $999 range, but there's a lot of time between now and November.

"The unit will boot up the OS when it is powered on for the first time, saving precious gaming time," Zotac added in its press release. "Some of the innovations brought by the SteamOS are in-home streaming, multimedia playback, and library sharing capabilities; making the unit living room-friendly for the entire family."

We asked Huang about the guidance Valve was giving on minimum Steam OS requirements, but he couldn't share those with us, and it sounds as if they are a bit of a moving target. He did say that some content was already pushing dual-core CPU configurations, so it would surprise us if Valve were pushing requirements to the Skylake/GTX side of the equation.

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  • kenjitamura
    Steam Boxes might actually become a thing when you take into consideration all the titles just announced today that are coming to SteamOS. Shadow of Mordor, Batman: Arkham Knight, Payday 2, and GRID Autosport were are all on sale as part of a special for the SteamOS right now. I'm already planning on building my own Steam box for around November when the controller hits =D
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    But where are the neon racing stripes? Those add at least 4gHz to any CPU.
    Reply
  • An AFK User
    Steam vs Nvidia maybe? This is gonna be very interesting.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    I like that the new skylate mobile i5 CPUs are FINALLY quad core! Something that the i5 line has really needed for a while in my opinion.
    Reply
  • photonboy
    NVidia Shield desktop is cool too.

    Local gaming or GRID where possible. So as GRID (cloud) gets better the quality of the games improves but no new hardware needed. Latency issues are being addressed and I'm really impressed so far.

    Even got Crysis 3 working at 1080p/30FPS on the local hardware which is pretty great for a $199 USD machine (controller included).

    We've got choices:

    $100 - low-end media devices
    $200 - Steam Shield console
    $400 - PS4/XB1
    $800+?? - SteamOS

    For $200 the NVidia Shield is looking very interesting.
    Reply
  • Grognak
    GRID won't be free forever, Nvidia already said it. So that's $200 + however much they charge per month or per game depending on the payment model they choose. And of course not everyone has a beefy enough connection to handle it.
    Reply
  • Davos555
    I like that the new skylate mobile i5 CPUs are FINALLY quad core! Something that the i5 line has really needed for a while in my opinion.
    Quite a few of the i5 chips have been quad core since first generation...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_i5_microprocessors#Westmere_microarchitecture_.281st_generation.29
    Reply
  • Damn_Rookie
    15422122 said:
    I like that the new skylate mobile i5 CPUs are FINALLY quad core! Something that the i5 line has really needed for a while in my opinion.
    Quite a few of the i5 chips have been quad core since first generation...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_i5_microprocessors#Westmere_microarchitecture_.281st_generation.29
    TechyInAZ said "mobile i5 CPUs", which your provided link shows have all been dual core so far.
    Reply
  • mavikt
    I like that the new skylate mobile i5 CPUs are FINALLY quad core! Something that the i5 line has really needed for a while in my opinion.

    I can't find anywhere in the press release where it states that the Skylake i5 is a mobile version. Just because it might be an embedded BGA chip doesn't make it "mobile".
    The GPU seem to be mobile version though, as indicated by the prefix M in GTX 970M.
    Reply
  • Grognak
    The parts they put in very small form factors are usually all laptop versions because of the lower TDP. On the other hand, a laptop i5 is just a dual core with HT so not really a gaming powerhouse.
    Reply