November 27, 2013, 6:00 AM —
I've been pretty openly skeptical of Valve Software's Steam Machines. I've been telling anyone who will listen that Steam Machines are going to be more expensive than existing game consoles like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One because both Sony and Microsoft can sell their hardware at or near cost and make their profit off of licensing fees.
Since Steam is handing off Steam Machines to 3rd party hardware manufacturers, I assumed those manufacturers would have to sell Steam Machines for a healthy profit, pushing the price up.
But maybe I was wrong. Earlier this week iBuyPower started showing off a prototype of the Steam Machine it plans to be selling in 2014. According to a post on The Verge iBuyPower's Steam Machine will cost $500; the same as the Xbox One. Inside is an unspecified AMD multi-core CPU and an AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card. According to VideoCardBenchmark.net that's a $199 video card (today, prices are always dropping) with a G3D Mark score of 4,376 which seems like a very respectable score. (We need a hardcore graphics card geek to jump into the comments and give us his/her thoughts on this card.)
The Verge says that "... iBuyPower says that existing Steam for Linux games should run quite well, at full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. "
I'm still skeptical though so I have to point out a couple of things. First, the selection of 'existing' Steam for Linux games doesn't have a lot of games with really high-end graphics. Metro Last Light would probably be the best test case if the iBuyPower Steam Machine was on store shelves today.
Also in the world of PC gaming there's a huge different between 60 FPS at 1080P with graphics settings set to minimum and 60 FPS at 1080P with all the visual bells and whistles pushed to their maximum.
So while the iBuyPower reveal has dented my skepticism, it hasn't shattered it. However, I am impressed by the graphics card they've managed to include in a $500 machine. I'm now more excited to learn more about these systems when CES rolls around.
How about you? Are you sold on the idea of a Steam Machine yet?
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.