Steam Machine: which Steam box should you buy?

20th Jan 2014 | 12:08

Steam Machine: which Steam box should you buy?

All the AMD and Intel Steam Machines announced so far

Valve's Steam Machines stole the headlines at CES 2014, with Gabe Newell unveiling an impressive roster of third-party machines all hoping to nudge your current gaming machine out of the living room.

There will certainly be more to come, but for now we've rounded up the Steam Machines that have been announced so you can pick through the details and find your favourite.

Some of the specs have been confirmed, some haven't been locked down, but it's worth remembering that many of these Steam Machines can be customized. The idea is that it works for you.

Steam machine

Valve's Steam Machine

Valve sees itself as an enabler for third parties to swoop in and offer SteamOS on their devices, but that hasn't stopped it welding a Steam Machine of its own. Valve's black box reminds us of the Xbox 360 Elite but a darned sight more powerful.

The 300 prototype units shipped in December came varied in their organs.There was a mixture of Nvidia Titan, GTX660, GTX760 and GTX780. Meanwhile processors varied between Intel i7-4770, i5-4570 and i3.

Now for the bad news: Valve has no plans to release its own Steam Machine on the market for now.

CyberpowerPC

CyberpowerPC

The CyberpowerPC Steam Machine is one of the better looking of the crowd. It comes in two flavours, both with 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB HDD as standard.

The $499 (about £305, AU$550) 'A' model has a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card with an AMD 3.9GHz dual-core processor.

The 'I' version is more expensive at $699 (about £425 AU$780) but will come with a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 GPU and holds a 3.5GHz Intel Core i3 processor. Expect to be able to get your hands on these in the second half of 2014.

Bolt

Digital Storm Bolt II

Digital Storm's liquid-cooled entry is a high-ender, but the Bolt II could be worth the cash if you're looking to harness maximum power. It's also going hybrid, letting you choose to boot either Windows or SteamOS.

Completely customizable, the Bolt II has four configurations, one of which packs an Intel Core i7-4770k processor, Nvidia GTX 780 Ti graphics card, 16GB of RAM, 120GB SSD, 1TB hard drive - and a steep price of $2,584 (about £1,574, AU$2890).

However we're told the starting price for the most basic configuration will be slightly less at $1,899 (about £1,157, AU$2,120).

For that, you won't be sacrificing any of your Windows games in the process. It'll be arriving later in January so earlier than most others.

Alienware

Alienware Steam Machine

Alienware would be crazy not to get in the Steam Machine game, and sure enough it could be spotted with its glowing Alienware and Steam logos adorning its case at the CES press conference. (Check out our hands on review)

Alienware is keeping quiet on the exact specs – there's a good chance it hasn't locked them down yet -but we do know it will come with an Intel processor and an Nvidia graphics card of some form.

The Alienware Steam Machine has been confirmed for a September 2014 release. Nothing on price but Alienware plans to price it competitively with the next-gen consoles - though it plans to refresh its Steam Machine every year.

Meanwhile, the Alienware X51 desktop will also be made available as a Steam Machine at around the same time as its more compact box hits the market.

Falcon

Falcon Northwest Tiki

Falcon Northwest's Tiki desktop will be transforming into a Steam Machine in 2014. The specs are hazy on this one for now, but we can expect a wide range of customized options. RAM is available in configurations between 8 and 16GB while storage can go as high as 6TB.

The sprawling custom options will also mean a sprawling price range, starting at $1,799 (£1,095, $AU2015) and moving up to an eye-watering $6,000 (about £3,654, AU$6,27).

ibuypower

iBuyPower

iBuyPower got in ahead of CES but was still flaunting its wares at the Vegas show. This one comes with a Radeon R7 260X graphics card, a quad-core Athlon X4 740 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD.

It's that nifty light wrapped around the outside of the box that we're really digging, and you'll be able to alter it using an app for iOS and Android, says iBuyPower.

Its $499 (about £300, AU$560) price tag will certainly go down well with the moderate-core gamers looking to get Steam into their living rooms, and we can expect it to arrive around June this year.

Zotac

Zotac

Zotac's Steam Machine offering looks like a router in disguise and doesn't have a confirmed name right now. The box has an Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card of an as-yet-unconfirmed specification, while the Intel Core processor is also still to be locked down.

So, all a little up in the air then. But it's the $599 price that has us intrigued. Could Zotac make this worth paying an extra $100 over an iBuyPower box?

Zotac's Steam Machine will arrive in the second half of 2014, we're told.

Gigabyte

Gigabyte Brix Pro

No, that isn't a resurrected GameCube - Gigabyte's Brix Pro is just keeping things simple. You'll have a choice of either an Intel Core i7-4770R or a Core i5-4570R CPU inside while the Iris Pro graphics 5200 means you'll be getting powerful processor-integrated graphics - but still integrated, which is possibly bad news for some people.

Still, you'll get 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD for storing your games, four USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI port. Nothing on price or release date just yet, but we'd guess this will come in with a reasonable cost.

Materiel

Materiel.Net

Materiel's offering costs a bit more than some of the others, but perhaps it's just affordable enough. At $1,098 (about £670, AU$1230) you'll get an Intel Core i5 4440 CPU, an MSI Geforce GTX 760 OC graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SSHD.

Not one for those looking for something stylish, but we wouldn't call it ugly.

Origin

Origin PC Chronos

Origin's Chronos Steam Machine arrives in two options: the Chronos Standard-Edition and the Chronos SLI-Edition.

Both are fully customizable and offer up to 14TB of hard drive space, however the SLI-Edition will support up to dual Nvidia SLI Geforce GTX Titan graphics cards and liquid cooling.

More importantly, they're both dual-OS, letting you have the option of Windows or SteamOS when you boot up.

Webhallen

Webhallen

It looks a bit like a mini fridge, but don't let that fool you. With an Nvidia GTX 780 GPU, Intel Core i7-4771 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSHD storage, the Webhallen Steam Machine is packing heat.

Yours for a starting price of $1,499 (about £912, AU$1,680). Release date is yet to be confirmed.

Scan

Scan NC10

TheScan NC10 is probably the weirdest-looking of the bunch. The slim silver Steam Machine is shaped like a portable hard drive, but at $1,090/£699 (about AU$1220) it's punching toward the higher end of the price spectrum.

That aluminium shell is housing an Nvidia Geforce GTX 765M graphics card, an Intel Core i3 4000M processor, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. No word on release date yet.

Next Spa

Next Spa

Another uninspiring design although we're quite fond of that X business going on at the front of the box.

The Next Spa an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GTX 760 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. No pricing or release date announced just yet, so hold tight.

See all the Steam Machines at CES 2014 in the roundup video below:

SteamOS Steam Machine Valve Steam Box feature auhottest computingcarousel-en-us
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