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Which Steam Machine is Best for You?

It’s been a while since we reported anything about Steam and the store’s exciting new jump into the console business. So we thought, “Hey, what’s going on with that now?” Turns out a lot, especially where variety is concerned. We knew Valve was partnering with a bunch of different companies to develop different boxes, each containing their own signature perk. But what they all have in common, a feature that stays true to the core of PC gaming, is the ability to customize.

I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve been a console gamer since I was in diapers. I know absolutely nothing about the world of PC gaming nor the cornucopia of customizable hardware that’s involved — owning a Mac doesn’t really help either. And when I saw the various options available on the Steam website, I became overwhelmed. So many options! To help sort through the list I went to my good buddy, Nerds of the Apocalypse’s Mike Nelson, to help out us console gamers (PC gamers are invited too) looking to jump into the world of Steam and it’s vast library of games.

From here on, the following words are Mr. Mike Nelson giving his expertise on which Steam Machine might be the right fit for you:

Alienware Steam Machine

Alienware Steam Machine ($449.00)

The Alienware Steam Machine combines the awesome experience of console gaming with a massive library of over 1000 games, all in full 1080p HD on your TV. You’ll experience powerful and immersive gaming with the high performance NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX GPU 2GB GDDR5 graphics and Intel® Core processors. 

The price point is spot on for Console players; although, the system does not come with a Steam Controller (sold separately). It doesn’t specify what kind of Intel Processor or nVidia Graphics card is inside so at this time it’s hard to tell if it is worth it. My guess can only be it’s the same components as a Playstation 4 and Xbox One in terms of processor and graphics card. The design of the box is very Xbox slick with the Alienware logo on one side and the Steam Logo in the bottom corner. I think the location of the Steam Logo is my favorite part.

Alternate Steam Machine-1

Alternate Steam Machine ($1,099.99)

The ALTERNATE Steam Machine brings the power of PC Gaming to your living room along with a library of over 1,000 games! Additionally, the Alternate Steam Machine allows you to stream any Steam game from your PC to your TV over your in-home network. 

The price point brings the fear that console players may not like. This is sometimes the cost of PC Gaming though it really isn’t reflected on the price console players are used to, especially since we don’t know what the components are inside. According to the description it may come with a Steam Controller which would be nice. It does mention you can stream the Steam Machine to a TV over your home network so that helps with not needing the Steam Link accessory. A key factor that makes this machine possibly purchasable is the fact you can change your components as in upgrade your Graphics card and such. They say “easy” but sometimes it’s never like that.

Asus ROG GR8S

ASUS ROG GR8S ($699.99)

Hardwired and coded with ROG DNA, ROG GR8S is a console-inspired gaming PC designed to give you incredible performance – all in a compact 2.5-liter chassis. Its unique design is ideal for the living room; you can even hook it up to your large screen HDTV for gaming on an entirely different scale.

It’s a little steep in price but close to the prices of the Xbox One and PS4 when they first launched. ASUS ROGs are excellent in the PC world and the fact they have a Steam Machine is great. They give specific info on their components with Intel i7/i5 processors and nVidia GeForce 9 series graphic cards which are some of the high end cards from nVidia. With its design you can still upgrade and add more hard drives for storage space and with Ethernet and Wifi built in for online gaming. I think this is my favorite design of the Steam Machines. ASUS Rog are always edgy looking and this one stands out a lot.

Digital Storm Eclipse

Digital Storm Eclipse ($699.99)

The Eclipse is a steam machine that is fully equipped with desktop level performance in a slim footprint. Dominate the latest PC games thanks to Eclipse’s support for a full-size dedicated graphics card and desktop-class Intel processor.

It’s the same price and the ASUS ROG but a little bigger in design with looking similar to a normal desktop PC. It doesn’t go into specifics of components but it is fully customizable to upgrade any of your parts.

Falcon Northwest Tiki

Falcon Northwest Tiki ($1,999.99 to $4,999.99)

Described by Forbes as “The Perfect PC”, [the Falcon Northwest Tiki Steam Machine] packs the world’s fastest graphics cards and quad-core CPUs into a compact 4” wide, 13” tall frame. Unlike some console-sized PCs with a fixed configuration that ages quickly, Tiki is a constantly evolving, upgradeable platform. You can configure Tiki to meet your needs and budget from all the latest industry-standard components.

The price point? Scary. The Custom building? Normal but still pricey if you want to get console players to buy it. This kind of machine is for those who know exactly what needs to be in a machine and you might not get that from some console players. This is one of the best micro towers you can get in the industry but just at first look is not console player friendly. Of course, you can get the parts needed for your budget but this is some advance level of building, even if you aren’t the one putting it together yourself.

Gigabyte BRIX Pro

GIGABYTE BRIX Pro ($599.99)

The [GIGABYTE] BRIX Pro is a barebone mini-PC kit that features a high-performance Intel® Core™ i7 processor which is ideally suited to CPU-intensive applications like image design and video editing, as well as an Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics 5200 which provides superior graphics performance needed for 3D gaming.

The price of an Xbox One at launch but small enough to actually be mounted on the back of a monitor or TV, size doesn’t matter I guess. It says it is a DIY kit and it comes with a Wifi PCIe card for wifi capabilities. I’m seeing this as you get the box and parts you selected ship to you and you build it yourself. Hope it comes with instructions or at least a nice youtube video.

Maingear DRIFT

Maingear DRIFT ($849.99)

The MAINGEAR DRIFT is the ultimate customizable small form factor Gaming PC designed from the ground up for living room gaming. Powered by the latest cutting edge hardware the DRIFT packs the same power as a full sized desktop in an elegant console sized package.

Another steep price point but you are paying for the customization and upgradeable parts inside. For another Machine that offers customizing it isn’t a bad price but that also depends on what goes inside, it may be more expensive. I’m not sure on the exact specifics but it does offer a closed loop liquid cooling for your CPU which is the best for a CPU.

Materiel.net Steam Machine

Materiel.net Steam Machine ($899.99)

Materiel.net relied on 13 years of expertise to design this new kind of PC, able to meet the expectations of gamers and the technical constraints of a living room PC. We wanted our Steam Machine to be elegant, easy to use, powerful, and scalable. 4 essential points to promise you the best of gaming and multimedia from your couch. 

This is another small box, or shuttle amongst PC users, and its 900 dollars, compared to the Gigabyte BRIX it is more expensive but you get an Intel i5 and an nVidia GTX 960. This is almost, if not, what is inside current gen consoles but you also have the ability to upgrade parts and add more storage. These size boxes are tight inside so you don’t have some of the freedom to space like larger boxes.

NextBox

NextBox ($799.99)

NEXTBOX is the solution that Next will provide to the market to meet a new Gaming Experience, NEXTBOX, elegant and low noise can be use everywhere in the house, powered by Intel and Nvidia meet today and tomorrow requirements of Gaming and Home Theater.

Well this is $100 less than the Materiel.net Steam Machine, and it offers a range of Intel processors and nVidia graphic cards with the ability to upgrade them. Again, it’s another shuttle box. It’s a small package for big money, but a great space for what’s inside.

ORIGIN OMEGA Steam Machine

ORIGIN OMEGA Steam Machine ($899.99)

The ORIGIN PC OMEGA is the most advanced, powerful, and customizable steam machine in the world with support for up to 3-WAY SLI, professional overclocking, and full upgradability.

ORIGIN is another great name in the PC World and this machine for the price is almost what you are getting and more. With the ability to use nVidia’s SLI technology (using up to 3 graphic cards at once) and having a Dual Boot system is great. With a Dual boot system, you can load the Steam OS and Windows OS at the same time in case you have Windows Games that aren’t on Steam. Being another customizable Steam Machine, you have options to upgrade parts and have extra storage up to 14TB. This is one is put on my favorite list to get beside the ASUS ROG GR8S.

Scan 3XS ST Steam Machine

Scan 3XS ST Steam Machine ($999.99)

A range of compact PCs optimised for the upcoming SteamOS, a powerful new open-platform operating system developed by Valve Corporation, specially designed to give gamers the ultimate living room experience.

Another standard box form of the Steam Machine with no specifics of components besides the system being customizable and built to match your budget. With higher priced Machines like this, you really are paying for the ability to customize.

Syber Steam Machine

Syber Steam Machine ($499.00)

The Syber Steam Machine was built by gamers, for gamers. With instant access to purchase any compatible titles through Valve’s Steam client you want to play, the Syber Steam Machine takes gaming to a whole new level.

So you want to talk about a perfect price point for consoles players and still customizable? Then this is it. With this machine, they allow you go buy off the shelf hardware like from Best Buy and easily change the hardware out hassle free. When doing it yourself, always approach caution for first timers.

Webhallen S15-01

Webhallen S15-01 ($949.99)

Built from the ground up for optimum price, performance and low noise, Webhallen S15-01 is one of the most convenient ways of enjoying your games in the living room to-date. Capsuled in a sleek aluminum chassis this machine offers four cores of processing power, 8GB of high performance RAM while its graphics card, a GeForce GTX 960, sports 2GB of Video RAM. 

With this price point, you can go get one of the aforementioned customizing builds. If you want to spend this amount of money and not worry about customizing, then here you go. Gives detailed information on the specs of the machine which includes a 1TB SSHD hard drive which fits the price point by itself.

ZOTAC Steam Machine SN970

ZOTAC Steam Machine SN970 ($999.99)

The Zotac Steam Machine is bundled with a Steam Controller giving you access to the entire Steam library in your living room. With Steam’s huge library of games, the power of Nvidia graphics and an all new fresh design, your new living room upgrade is coming soon!

Another hefty price point but it is bundled with the Steam Controller and has 4 HDMI Outputs allowing for multiple screen usage which every PC Gamer is heavily use to and recommends. It is customizable to allow for upgrading memory and storage and comes with an nVidia Gefore 970M graphics card which will last for a long time. It is one of the best cards out there. I don’t mind the design being a nice small box. Large Steam logo on top meaning I wouldn’t put anything on top to cover it up. Flaunt it if you got it.

The Author

Christina Janke

Christina Janke

Host of "Intro to Geek" on Shauncastic.com. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Gail Simone, and hopes to be just like them when she grows up.

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