Valve’s Steam OS is an operating system designed to turn computers into game consoles. It’s a Linux-based operating system that will run on computers called Steam Machines. Valve plans to launch the operating system in November, which is when the first Steam Machines will go on sale.

So how much will these PC/game consoles cost? That depends on what kind of hardware you want.

The Steam website has listings for about 15 of the first Steam Machines and they’re priced between $460 and $5000.

steam machines

The idea of a Steam Machine is that it’s a PC designed for the living room. Stick one next to your big screen TV and you can use the Steam user interface to navigate your games and media, use the Steam Store to manage games, and use a Steam Controller (or another keyboard, mouse, or game controller) to play PC games.

Sure, you could also just buy a traditional game console like an Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii U, but the companies behind those boxes tend to release new hardware just two or three times per decade which means that the hardware can often feel kind of dated by the time it’s released.

When you buy a gaming PC, on the other hand, you can opt for the latest hardware… or upgrade an older device with more memory or storage, a faster processor, or other new hardware.

While many games don’t need bleeding edge hardware, some can certainly benefit from it… and it looks like gamers will have a choice of buying an entry-level Steam Machine for under $500 like the Alienware Steam Machine or iBuyPower SBX or spend thousands of dollars on a premium model like the Falcon Northwest Tiki or Origin Omega.

Most Steam Machines have some sort of NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards (or at least Intel Iris Pro integrated graphics), but high-end systems might have premium features including configurations with up to 16GB of RAM, up to 14TB of storage, liquid-cooled cases, and graphics cards that cost as much as the entire computer for some of the cheaper models.

Most models have relatively compact designs (by traditional PC standards), with certain models like the Zotac Steam Machines SN970 or Gigabyte BRIX Pro sporting cases that don’t take up much more space than a stack of DVDs. Others are big enough to support multiple drive bays, graphics cards, and other components.

All told, there are only a few things all the Steam Machines seem to have in common: they’re all basically small computers designed to look decent in your living room and designed to run Valve’s game-centric operating system.

They’re not the only option for folks looking to bring PC games into the living room though. NVIDIA’s new $199 Shield game console may run Google Android, but one of its key selling points is support for NVIDIA’s GameStream and GRID services. GameStream lets you stream games to the little box from a Windows PC connected to your home network, while the GRID subscription service will let you stream PC games from NVIDIA’s cloud servers.

Razer’s $100 Forge TV game console is also an Android TV box with support for game streaming. It’ll use Razer’s own service for streaming games from a PC on your home network.

Both of those devices are expected to ship before Steam Machines become available this fall. But neither will be able to truly run PC games the way a Steam Machine can.

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13 replies on “Steam Machines will sell for $460 to $5000 when they launch in November”

  1. Well… Without seeing the actual specs for the REALLY high priced setups I can’t comment if they are overpriced or not. What I CAN say is that for most it will be most likely overkill. 3-way SLI with GTX980 seems too much and I wonder if there’s any problem with diminishing returns at that price point. The comments from the HTC Vive’s hands-ons state that they are just using a single gtx 980 for the set-up. I also don’t see myself NEEDING 14TB for games (videos maybe).

    I guess important questions are what kind of display do you have and what do you want to work for it. 4K with a high frame rate could maybe explain the need for such high-end specs but I still can’t imagine many people paying for it (heck, it’s more expensive than a variety of large 4K TVs out there).

    My main concern with the expensive ones is that to truly take advantage of them you need to install Windows as well since there are many games which are Windows only. Yeah, you can stream from a Windows PC but what’s the point in streaming from a less-powerful set-up. So unless they can find a wine-like solution to make more games compatible and they can actually sell the computers for a cheaper price than building it yourself, I don’t see the point.

    For me… I’ll most likely wait to see how much the HTC Vive costs, see how much a set-up that can run it (well) costs and then see if I have money to burn to cover the costs (a big IF). Otherwise I can live with a lower-end set-up (I am not a die-hard gamer so as long as it’s HD and works at a decent frame rate Im happy). VR if done properly could tempt me to spend more but only if done properly.

  2. Why would you buy one of these?.
    That has always been the question related to these from day one. Especially given their price

  3. I would LOVE to see Kodi listed in the Steam store now even if it is free so we dont have to hack it to play our Movies and TV series with a Steam box. Would be a great way to help fund Kodi too it there is a price for it.

    1. Steam OS has a standard Gnome desktop, and you can install whatever software you want

      1. I know, i have a quasi steam box now with and AMD A10. I run xbmc/kodi and have the steam plug in where it opens steam from xbmc plugin and when i quit steam goes back but would be nice if they integrated a little better as xbmc is always running in the background but still works great. Also have a capture card for live tv with full epg.

        1. Well I dont know really as i dont run Steam OS but have steam installed on my Solydk with kodi installed also but assumed it could be worked around. I was just wishing it would be as easy as going to the store and installing Kodi so can install and switch back and forth without leaving the big screen. And would be another nice way to donate to Kodi.

        2. How do you like your A10 for gaming?

          When I was pricing out my HTPC/steambox I was considering using an A10-7850k, but its too expensive to build a Mini-ITX with a socket FM2+. The motherboards are too expensive at that size.

          I decided to go with a Pentium G3258, and I got an Asus R7-260X 2gb DirectCU II for $100. It made more sense

          1. I have a 32″ TV that is 720P so can play everything I own on top settings. I should also not that the memory is 1866 which directly affect gpu so is minimum i would recomend. I got mine at microcenter with motherboard for $120 and they still have that combo now for that price. I figured when i upgrade my tv will upgrade a gpu as well as the cpu on a10 has enough power. I went with the free motherboard but almost sold it and got the Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WIFI wich is the only decent small motherboard if you ask me. I decided to just use a medium sized box and put in 6 drives for a nas/htpc/gaming/server to use less power. I also am not a big fps games guy so havent tested extensively.

  4. i almost beat my son with a stick when he spent 2500 bones on an alienware box…i tried to build it to show him how dumb he was (including a legit copy of Win7 Ultimate)…best i could do was $2300. but, it still freaks me out to see $4000 list for a box. i don’t care what the OS is…

  5. If you’re going to be looking at the lower-end of the price scale, its probably best to just build your own. Most of these are just custom built PCs using off-the-shelf cases.

    I built a $250 HTPC (mini ITX) a few months ago, and I’m going to turn it into a Steam box when I add a video card.

    1. I agree. I can’t see what advantage (other than cooling) an official steam box will bring. I will wait for a couple months after launch, and then see which component configuration is a good value. It’s nice to see the enthusiasm from those companies.

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