A few weeks back I wrote about iBuyPower's upcoming Steam Machine. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that iBuyPower's device would be just $500 in spite of having, at the very least, a decent video card inside.
Valve has always said that Steam Machines would come in a variety of shapes, sizes, capabilities and prices (or in Gabe Newell's words, Good, Better, and Best tiers), but I had figured we were going to have to shell out at least $1000 for a decent model. iBuyPower's offering seems to indicate that's not the case.
So if we can get a decent Steam Machine for $500, what would $1,500 get us? Digital Storm is bringing a Steam Machine to CES in a few weeks, and they've already revealed the starting price: $1,469. I'm assuming they're aiming for that "Best" tier.
As with iBuyPower they're being coy about a lot of the details, but they have revealed that one available option will be an Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan video card. These cards are currently retailing for around $1,000 so I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the $1,469 model won't have one. Other options include a liquid cooling system and a 700 Watt power supply. They're not talking about the CPU, amount of RAM or storage options yet.
The best news is that the Digital Storm Steam Machine will dual-boot SteamOS and Windows, so it should be able to run everything in your Steam library as well as games you've purchased from other sources. We should learn more at CES but in the meantime both Engadget and The Verge have a few more details.
Some of us won't have to wait for 2014 to experience Steam Machines. On Friday Valve will be sending out "beta" units to 300 lucky testers. The chosen few should have been notified yesterday evening, and in addition to free hardware they're getting badges for their Steam Community profiles (important for cutting down on community members impersonating beta testers and spreading dis-information about the machines).
It sounds like SteamOS will be available for anyone to download on Friday, too, though Valve warns: "But unless you’re an intrepid Linux hacker already, we’re going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out."
Now I have to decide if I consider myself an intrepid Linux hacker. Probably not.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.