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A few big sites are now pushing out their articles on the new hardware from Valve, so I decided to point them out for you and take a look.

The most in-depth ones I have found yet is engadget and ars technica who deserve some applause here, as they went into quite a bit of detail, and more so than any other website.

They seem reasonably positive about the whole thing. They do note the interface does still have its issues, like accidentally introducing a bug that shows Windows games which will get ironed out properly (one would hope anyway!).

Ars does note this, which will annoy the heck out of people:
arsWe also found a few SteamOS games that still include an intermediate "launcher" screen that asks players to confirm resolution and other settings. That's only an annoyance because these screens can't be navigated with the Steam Controller; you need to plug in a mouse and keyboard to get through to the actual game in these cases. While the SteamOS interface includes large warnings that these games require extra hardware, and Valve isn't directly responsible for third-party developers' unfriendly decisions, it still seems like an oversight to have such games be unplayable out of the box.

Having to get up and down to tinker things with a mouse at times, will be annoying. I am hopeful some developers will go back to update their games, but that depends on the success of it all.

Engadget did notice certain performance issues we all know about ourselves though:
EngadgetThe games that ran poorly surprised me: Shadow of Mordor struggled to hit playable frame rates at my television's native 1080p resolution until I dialed back its graphics options to their lowest settings. I don't know if the game is simply more resource-intensive than I realized, if it's poorly optimized for PCs or if it's just a bad Linux port.

We've seen a fair few people underwhelmed by the performance of SoM, it's not terrible, but it's not exactly the best port we have right now. This is something I am hoping Feral will address in a future patch.

And then this:
EngadgetA few games also suffered from weird stuttering despite running well at high specifications:BioShock Infinite, Spec Ops: The Line and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel would all occasionally drop a few frames, causing the game to look like it was "hanging" for a quarter of a second every few minutes. Weird.

All of which use Unreal Engine, and need to be tinkered to actually work properly without stutters, this is due to the amount of VRAM is selected to be used in the config files. By default for us it's rather low.

I think this is my favourite bit from that review:
EngadgetOn the plus side, Valve carries a lot of weight in the gaming industry, and it has a vested interest in convincing developers to port big-name games to Linux. It's extremely probable that we'll see an explosion in Linux-compatible releases over the next several years. In the meantime, SteamOS' Linux library offers one extra advantage: It's unique. There are literally hundreds of distinct, fun, independent and lesser-known titles lurking in the Steam marketplace that simply aren't available on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

I certainly hope more developers jump on board, we know market-share is what drives developers for their sales, and the currently announced ports simply won’t be enough to satisfy the majority. We have a few ports coming from Feral that they have confirmed and none have a current release date, Aspyr haven't announced any more recently either, so I hope a lot of ports are being done in-house in secret, otherwise we're not going to see the launch I was personally hoping for.

Another choice quote from engadget:
EngadgetThe Alienware Steam Machine has some growing pains, but it's fun. Lots of fun.

Having fun is the single most important thing here, and if he is having fun, so will lots of others without caring about everything being at a life-like setting.

From reading various others like PC Gamer and tomshardware it seems there are more concerns about the performance. I will go ahead and quote the linked PC Gamer article:
PC GamerLast year I bought an Xbox One. I expect to use it for the next seven years, and I will be able to play every single game released for it during that time. The Alienware Steam Machine? It’s already limited to playing modern games at 1920x1080 on Medium settings—I played BioShock Infinite, Metro 2033 Redux, and Spec Ops: The Line with those presets, and still saw the occasional frame rate dip. And none of those games are cutting-edge releases; they were simply the shiniest Linux-compatible games I owned.

In two or three years? Expect the Alienware Steam Machine to be limited to low settings on big-budget games.

This was one of my major concerns, especially with the recent heavier ports we have been getting. Seeing this from another major site doesn’t fill me with hope, but if you’re going to buy a Steam Machine are you expecting to run everything on maximum setting? I don’t personally think so, but you never know what technical level people will be on buying one. It is going to become a big issue, and more so over time. There’s also the issue of people comparing it to the Xbox and Playstation, where you can pick up any game and expect it to look pretty great, but a comparable priced system for SteamOS just won’t run games as well, and it’s something these websites are already doing and people who buy them will pick up on.

It’s going to be a very interesting time next month, but it’s still anyone’s guess which way this will go for us Linux gamers. I wonder if there will be new graphics drivers pushed quickly around the release to help with some of these performance issues? We know the GPU guys do this for Windows, so maybe they will start to do it for us too.

There’s a lot more to see on it all, so I suggest you check out engadget at the very least as they are very detailed. I just didn’t want to fill a dozen pages with quotes based on someone else’s thoughts. I haven't even touched on what they say about the Controller either, so go check them out.

I will have my Controller hopefully on November 10th, so keep an eye out for my own thoughts on it.

How are you feeling about it all? I’m more than a little concerned, but hopeful. My main concern right now is if my tiny hands will reach across to the X button, damn hands, why did they make the sides of the controller so damn fat? Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial
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raacoon 15 Oct, 2015
QuoteIt’s already limited to playing modern games at 1920x1080 on Medium settings...

To be fair (and I'm not really biased since I have a Playstation 4) the "next"-gen consoles are struggling with 1080p/30fps already, as well. Mostly achieved with not so high-res textures, often very short draw distances and the lack of anti-aliasing. Metro 2033 Redux for example renders at 912p on Xbox One.
ChiKin 15 Oct, 2015
If you read the comments on Ars, it doesn't look good.
dubigrasu 15 Oct, 2015
Quoting: Comandante oardoHow to improve the performance of the Unreal Engine 3 games on Steam Os or Ubuntu with that config file?
For Bioshock Infinite as an example got to:
/home/user/.local/share/irrationalgames/bioshockinfinite/GameDocuments/My Games/BioShock Infinite/XGame/Config
and edit the "XEngine.ini" file in the [TextureStreaming] section.
Increase the PoolSize value to something more appropriate to your GPU VRAM size, but don't go overboard.
For my card (3072 MB) I have a value of 2000, more than this and it gets actually worse.
Nyamiou 15 Oct, 2015
I think that the Alienware strange unupgradable GPU is partially responsible for the low FPS, it should be interesting to see how it will compete against other Steam Machines that will come with a real 750 Ti, also people should not expect to put games in Ultra with a $500 PC, that's not how the PC gaming world works.

Quoting: ChiKinIf you read the comments on Ars, it doesn't look good.
I don't agree with that, it's clear that a lot of people still have doubts but more and more people are interested in the idea. Right now it seem clear that there are not going to be a million of early adopter of Steam Machines but with the heavy marketing of both Valve and Steam Machine manufacturer I think it will still sell and when the major problem, the lack of recent AAA games, will be solved I think the Steam Machines will become quite popular.

Last edited by Nyamiou on 15 October 2015 at 11:50 pm UTC
Mblackwell 16 Oct, 2015
Honestly if you ran the games at 900p like an Xbox One does, or at 720 with AA you'd probably get a better experience. With SoM, you'd probably want to drop to the low profile, bump up the texture and shader settings a bit, and cap the fps at 30. I don't really have a way to test it however since I have a pretty high end system.

Actually it's probably worth noting that in general console games get capped at 30fps, so if people are getting in the 50 range that's still a better experience as far as framerate and input response/lag. If games allow for triple buffering you'd also eliminate tearing in those case where there are frame drops.

One thing I hope in the future is that we get default config profiles built for these machines. Heck I've had many games not pick good defaults in general on my desktop and even doing weird things like setting everything high but putting the resolution at something super low.

Also I just saw this too, but I haven't read it yet:

Last edited by Mblackwell on 16 October 2015 at 12:59 am UTC
Elvanex 16 Oct, 2015
My controller should be arriving tomorrow. :) I'll be interested to see how well it works outside of Steam games. I don't want to have to use a different controller just to play SuperTuxKart.
Mblackwell 16 Oct, 2015
I believe the system recognizes it as a KBAM outside of Steam. You could always add the game in Steam and I think it will let you do bindings for it.
peterp771 16 Oct, 2015
Quoting: ChiKinIf you read the comments on Ars, it doesn't look good.

Most of the commenters on Ars are Microsoft fanboys. They all say the same thing: "can't see the point of Steam Machines", "not enough games", "Linux games don't run well compared to Windows", "why not just get Windows in Big Picture Mode instead", "OpenGL is crap".....blah blah.

I wouldn't take much notice of them.
reaVer 16 Oct, 2015
So the release of the steam machines will be the moment where people will find out they can only play games at medium quality settings on console. Only 15 years late...
burnall 16 Oct, 2015
They should put some marks on Steam Machines, like low power, medium (all games, but average details) and high for enthusiasts to resemble their actual performance. How could you then guide people with low-teh experience or console using on buying them and not letting them to get upset? They will be angry when they will discover that their super low budget Alienware Stem Machine could not even run all of games, nor they would look as pretty as they look on consoles.
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