Yesterday when CES 2014 began, Valve revealed 12 hardware partners that are going to help make its Steam Machine dream come true. We also got a look at a new third-party Steam Machine by CyberPowerPC that began at a price of $ 499. Now, just a day later, Valve has unveiled 13 Steam Machines, in all shapes, sizes, specs, and prices — from $ 500 to $ 6,000.
As we mentioned, Valve’s hardware partners range from big names in PC gaming — such as Alienware — to lesser-known entities that share in Valve’s vision of an open, living room PC gaming console. Today, we get to see what they’ve all been hiding up their sleeves. As we saw yesterday, CyberPowerPC’s Steam Machine will come in two models — $ 500 and $ 700 — and will feature either a 2GB Radeon R9 270 graphics card or a 2GB Nvidia GTX 760, a 7200RPM 500GB hard drive, 8GB of RAM, and either a 3.9GHz AMD A6-6400k processor or a 3.5GHz Core i3-4330 processor (though Valve’s Steam Machine PDF states this will be a Core i5, perhaps a typo). We also got a look at iBuyPower’s Steam Machine back in November — the first third-party Machine revealed. Details are still thin, but it starts at $ 500, and will feature a quad-core AMD or Intel processor, 8GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, and Radeon GCN graphics. Now, the rest of the third-party manufacturers have unveiled some specs of their devices — and they land in a wide variety of specs, price, shape, and size.
Alternate’s Steam Machine is priced similarly to what it would cost to build Valve’s beta unit yourself, 300 of which were sent out toward the end of last year. As we’ve already seen, CyberPowerPC’s Machine is aimed more at the console market with a price that matches the Xbox One.
Digital Storm’s Bolt II Steam Machine is one of the higher-end models, sporting an SSD along with its 1TB HDD, 16GB of RAM, and running around $ 2,600. Gigabyte’s Brix Pro’s price isn’t yet official, but the specs suggest it’ll be more affordable than a $ 2,600 beast.
The first third-party Steam Machine we saw was iBuyPower’s, and nothing appears to have changed since then. Falcon Northwest’s Tiki, though, is currently the most customizable, up to a ludicrous $ 6,000. If you have the cash to spend, the Falcon Northwest is your gateway to the best Steam Machine on the block.
Origin PC’s Chronos is also taking the highly customizable route, though that means the price is can hit just about any mark. Materiel.net’s machine is in the midrange, hitting close to the Valve’s beta unit in terms of price.
Details are thin on Next’s machine, but it looks like it’ll fall into the price range of Valve’s beta unit. Scan’s machine — sporting a slim DVD player style case, will also land in that midrange area.
Webhallen’s $ 1,500 Machine looks like it’ll land between the midrange and top tier, while Zotac’s router-like box will land on the lower end, falling in with more traditional game consoles.
Meanwhile, the Maingear Spark — which reportedly wasn’t ready in time to be included in Valve’s brochure, is ridiculously tiny for a powerful PC gaming rig, measuring in at just two inches tall, and 4.5 inches wide. It’s taller than a Mac Mini by a few tenths of an inch, but less wide by about three inches. Out of all the Steam Machines so far, the Spark looks to be the best living room option based on its size. It features a 3.1GHz AMD A8-5575M (laptop) processor, up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM, a Radeon R9 M275X (laptop) graphics card, a 256GB SSD, and an extra 2.5-inch tray for limited expansion. It also manages to offer four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output, as well as an Ethernet port and audio jack.
Alienware also showed off the case of its Steam Machine — seen above — though it isn’t talking specs just yet. It’ll arrive in the latter half of 2014, and Dell states that it’ll be competitively priced with current-gen consoles — which likely means somewhere around the $ 500 mark.
As you can see from the above, each manufacturer has their own idea of what a Steam Machine should be, and every niche is already covered — from cheap to very expensive, tiny to enormous, and some boxes will even come with Windows instead of Steam OS. This is because the Steam Machine — as almost everyone has been saying since its announcement — is just a regular gaming PC you can build yourself. The only real unique aspects of the platform are which wacky style of case gets used, and the Steam Controller (which will work on your current gaming rig as is).
So far, it looks as though there isn’t anything special about Valve’s Steam Machine initiative, as you can just plug your current gaming PC into your TV via an HDMI cable and activate Steam’s Big Picture mode. Having someone build your gaming rig for you is admittedly convenient, and cuts down on the stress of making sure each individual piece of hardware is compatible — and Valve’s goodwill and marketing may give the Steam Machine a huge boost when it comes time to release to the living room gamers Valve is targeting. However, for now, it looks as though the real unique aspect of the Steam Machine will be its controller — and so far, its ability to provide keyboard-and-mouse precision remains to be seen.[Image credit: Destructoid]