Steam Machine prototypes shipping this week for 300 lucky beta testers

300 Valve-produced systems and controllers leaving the factory on Friday; participants will be notified today at 2 p.m. PDT.

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If you're lucky, you could be just days away from trying out Valve's new, living room-focused Steam Machine and its new haptic feedback controller. Valve has announced that the 300 selected Steam Machine beta testers will be notified today at around 2 p.m. PDT.

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Prototype Steam Machine units and Steam Controllers will leave the factory on Friday for delivery. All beta testers will also receive a special badge for their Steam Community profile that designates them as a beta participant. On top of that, numerous native Steam OS games will be added to beta testers' libraries.

Though it was not Valve's original plan, due to "regulatory hurdles," the Steam Machine beta test is limited to United States residents only, the company said today.

"It means we can’t collect beta feedback from Steam customers worldwide, which is pretty unfortunate," Valve said. "All things considered, we’re sure it was the right decision, because the alternative was to delay the whole beta beyond the point when we’d be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products."

This decision only affects the 300 prototype Steam Machine units, not the commercial versions of the systems that will go on sale in 2014. Further details around these systems will be shared during the Consumer Electronics Show on January 6.

In addition, Valve announced today that SteamOS will be available for all Steam users when its hardware ships on Friday. It can be downloaded by individual users and commercial OEMs. Valve also teased that its in-home streaming beta will begin "soon."

Valve's Steam Machine prototype is built from off-the-shelf PC parts and is fully upgradable, meaning users can swap out the GPU, hard drive, CPU, or the motherboard if they want to. Check out the system's specifications below. Pricing for the final version has not been announced.

Numerous third-party Steam Machines will also be available in 2014 from a variety of manufacturers. Last month, iBuyPower showed off its own prototype, which features a multicore AMD CPU and a discrete AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card for $500.

    • 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)
    • Hard drive: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
    • Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
    • Hard Drive: 35GB HD space
    • Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high

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