Given the super-long wait, it's almost hard to believe that the official launch of Valve's Steam OS, Steam Machines, Steam Controller, and Steam Link is right around the corner. While there's just one choice on the gamepad and streamer front, there are a ton of different Steam Machines to choose from, from top makers like MAINGEAR, ORIGIN, Alienware, Digital Storm, and even ZOTAC.
Some Steam Machine vendors have decided to go big, but ZOTAC wants to keep things simple, and make sure its NEN PC doesn't take up that much room around the TV. It measures 8.26" wide, 7.99" deep, and 2.45" thick - it's definitely a modest form-factor. But under the hood? It has the brawn needed to push today's hottest games with great framerates.
For CPU duties, ZOTAC has opted for Intel's Skylake-based Core i5-6400T, a quad-core chip that's clocked at 2.2GHz and can boost through Turbo up to 2.8GHz. Alongside that is 8GB of memory and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 960, which includes a 2GB framebuffer. This isn't a high-end card, but it will be able to handle all of today's games at 1080p with good graphical details. It's a lot of power for such a small PC, that's for certain.
Small the NEN might be, but it packs a ton of functionality. At the back are four HDMI ports, and two each of USB 2.0 and 3.0. Also here are dual gigabit Ethernet ports, and a Wi-Fi antenna. With the HDMI ports, up to 4K/60 is supported.
At the front of the unit, an SD card reader, audio jacks, and USB-C 3.0 port can be found.
As with all other official Steam Machines, this one includes Valve's Steam Controller, a product that people are still trying to wrap their heads around. The general consensus I've seen so far is that once mastered, it can help immensely in first-person shooter style games (versus using a gamepad in general), but for most others, a keyboard or mouse, or perhaps standard Xbox controller, would be better.
ZOTAC's NEN will become available next week and will be priced at $999.