Zotac Steam Machine ZBOX NEN SN970 Review

Zotac Steam Machine SN970 Review

Introduction

When Valve first announced SteamOS we knew that the landscape for PC gaming was going to change, firstly that Linux gaming was going to become viable platform for PC gamers and secondly PC gaming was moving towards the living room in a big way, either by making use of Steam’s In-Home Streaming or by playing games there directly with a Steam Machine or other small form factor PCs.  

Zotac have sent us their first Steam Machine, the Zotac NEN, first machine of it’s kind. Inside it contains both the latest hardware in the form of Intel’s Skylake 6400T CPU and Nvidia’s Maxwell GTX 960 GPU but also contains the full, non-beta release of SteamOS, Valve’s own Debian 8 based Linux operating system.

One thing that must be noted is that SteamOS is a free operating system, which should mean that Steam Machines should be cheaper than their Windows 10 equivalents. This model comes with Valve’s Steam Controller, which is a £39.99 add-on, so we will also see in this review how we fare with this non-traditional input method. 

 

Zotac NEN Steam Machine

What Zotac have delivered here is a machine which is not only smaller than both the Xbox One and the PS4, but is ready for almost anything that you can throw at it. With HDMI 2.0 this machine is 4K ready, which is a feature that both of today’s lack and provides all the versatility that a PC can provide. 

What this machine is designed to deliver is options, the option to dive deep into Linux or install Windows to give you an almost limitless amount of customizability or to simply stick with SteamOS, which is designed to deliver the plug-and-play experience that console gamers love.

Unlike today’s consoles this machine offers the possibility of hardware upgrades, like adding more system memory or upgrading to a SATA or M.2 based SSD and offers the possibility to connect modern devices with USB Type-c connectors or a large range of memory cards.

Zotac’s Steam Machine is highly impressive when it comes to the hardware inside, but what is most interesting about this product is the fact that Zotac claim that this Steam Machine is “whisper quiet”, which is something which is certainly not the case for the next generation consoles I have used. Let’s see if this Machine can possibly live up to the hype. 

 

Zotac Steam Machine SN970 Review