Valve has been kind enough to reveal almost every detail regarding its upcoming attempt to bring PC gaming to the living room, the Steam Machine. The company has revealed the specs of various beta models that will be shipped out for testing, so we know the types of Machines we’ll be getting down the line. However, the one detail Valve has yet to reveal is the price. A third-party Steam Machine was recently revealed by iBuyPower, and with it, the price — an affordable $ 500.
Viable gaming PCs are expensive, and since the Steam Machine is essentially just a pre-built gaming PC that uses off-the-shelf parts, it was safe to assume that it would cost around the same price of one you’d build yourself. Unlike game consoles, gaming PCs tend to be more expensive in both the short and long-run, as parts quickly become outdated and are expensive to begin with, and the openness and malleability of the platform means the hardware needs to be updated more often. Game consoles are already expensive enough — when Microsoft originally announced the $ 500 price of the Xbox One at E3 this year, the crowd was silent, and the presenter (now infamously) walked offstage and commented aloud on the audiences’ disapproval. In this day and age, a high-end gaming PC costs more than $ 500, but iBuyPower’s upcoming Steam Machine will not breach that threshold.
Taking that split-console design of the PS4 and the green glow of a Microsoft console (or the red glow of all those broken Xbox 360s), the iBuyPower prototype Steam Machine console is a sleek set-top box set for a launch in 2014. The company is working on two different models of its third-party Steam Machine, codenamed — of course — Gordon and Freeman. The only difference between the two models is the light bar running around the middle of the unit, with one clear and the other black when not illuminated.
The two models were said to be running a build of Steam OS, though the operating system is not yet complete.
Unfortunately, iBuyPower did not divulge the specs of the two models, but it did note that all Steam games will run at 60fps at 1080p, which is no easy feat — especially in the wide, varied world of PC games. That means the specs of the boxes will be above average, as Steam does have some resource-heavy games. There could be a bit of leeway here, as being able to run all Steam titles at 60fps with a 1080p resolution isn’t the same as doing so on the games’ highest settings, which iBuyPower did not appear to specifically mention.
Still, being able to run Steam’s most resource-heavy games at 60fps with a 1080p resolution on the lowest settings will get the job done for gamers considering the Steam Machine’s ease of setup and Xbox One price point. We’ll know more about the iBuyPower’s Steam Machine at CES in January, so stay tuned.