STEAM MACHINES 101
So what exactly are these Steam Machines, you might be asking. Well, they aren’t any hard and fast rules on what constitutes a Steam Machine, or how they should look or perform, but what they all share in common is the SteamOS operating system they run on. SteamOS is pretty much a Linux-based operating system at heart, but has been specifically customized around Steam’s Big Picture interface to make it compatible with the huge HD televisions of your living room.
The purpose of Steam Machines then, according to Valve, is to “provide the best living room access to the greatest games and user-generated content available.” To put it bluntly, Valve wants you to get out of the man-cave where you and your gaming rig are always cooped up in, and get your game on in the living room instead. Pay a quick visit to Valve’s dedicated Steam Machine site and you’ll notice there are already quite a number of companies who have made, or are in the process of making, Steam Machines of their own.
Such companies include mainstream PC manufacturers like ASUS, Alienware, Gigabyte and Zotac; as well as custom PC builders such as SYBER Gaming, Falcon Northwest and Origin, the latter three of which are based in the U.S.
As mainstream brands like Alienware have an obligation to cater for a wider consumer base compared to their custom PC counterparts, their Steam Machine offerings are priced more sensibly. Take the Alienware Steam Machine as an example. Its base model starts at a price of just US$499 (approx. RM1,860), while the top-spec model will cost you a slightly higher US$649 (approx. RM2,414). In return, you’ll get a machine equipped with an Intel Core i7-4765T processor, a modified NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M GPU, 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 7,200RPM 1TB hard drive and a Steam Controller – Valve’s rendition of the tried-and-proven PlayStation or Xbox controller which, instead of relying solely on buttons and analog sticks, also makes use of two touchpads to emulate a keyboard and mouse.
If you’re looking for a Steam Machine that goes all out on hardware, you’d have to check out Falcon Northwest’s Tiki Steam Machine as it packs one heck of a punch, especially so when you decide to go crazy with its completely customizable specifications list.
For a cool US$4,999 (approx. RM18,600), you’ll get a Tiki Steam Machine that sports an Intel Core i7-4790k processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan GPU, 16GB of DDR3-1866 memory, and 8TBs of storage space. The best part? All of said hardware is fitted into a chassis that is just 4-inches wide, and 13-inches tall.
If that’s a little too excessive for your tastes (and wallet), have a look at SYBER Gaming’s Steam Machine X. It’s much more down to earth, and yet still very well capable of carrying its own weight. It’s equipped with nothing less than an Intel Core i7-4790 processor, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU, 16GB of DDR3-1600 memory, and a 1TB 7,200RPM hard drive – all of which are neatly packed into a chassis that’s only 13-inches long and wide, and 3-inches thick. You can expect to pay a more palatable US$1,419 (approx. RM5,323) for the Steam Machine X.
4 SYBER Gaming Steam Machine
3 Zotac Steam Machine SN970
2 Steam Link
1 Alienware Steam Machine