The Steam Box: Overpriced Hardware for the Unwilling PC Builder (Prices Included)

The internet is abuzz with criticism over the newly unveiled Steam Machines. But are they more than just overpriced hardware enclosed in fancy cases?
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Within the early days of the annual CES event, Valve has given gamers their first gift of the New Year: the Steam Box.  These “cute” little gaming bundles are leaving PC and Steam enthusiasts scratching their heads in confusion.  

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We’re all wondering what the point is in dropping upwards of $1000 for a Steam console when you could build a better PC yourself for less. One that not only outperforms these boxes, but also doesn’t rely on publishers putting out games that are compatible with the box’s Linux OS.  Sure, you could argue that it’s perhaps marketed towards those who want a gaming PC, but are unwilling to attempt a build of their own — but isn’t that already the purpose of the cheaper alternative of the Xbox and the Playstation?  

I’m not saying it’s “DIY or die” when it comes to building your own PC rig — or that it’s even some sort of rite of passage, but if you’re in the market for dropping your hard-earned change on a slightly more expensive Steam Box, that performs slightly better than a console, this just may be your answer. 

 

But seriously, I’m quite baffled by some of these prices.  How does Falcon Northwest expect to move a profitable amount of units with a $6000 dollar price tag on a console equipped with hardware suitable for running algorithms for NASA or professional, cutting-edge, multimedia editing?  Oh wait, it just runs games.  Hopefully there will be Windows dual-boot option, it would be a shame to drop that amount money on a machine that is just limited for gaming.

It’s apparent that Alienware’s model will be the flagship console pitted to go head-to-head with the Xbox One and Playstation 4.  After all, Steam and Alienware have been in cahoots in the past given that the extraterrestrial hardware company has been pre-loading their overpriced rigs with Steam software for years.  Aesthetically, the Alienware Steam Box is much more elegant and beautiful than any console on the market.  I’ll give them that.     

Here’s an idea — one I thought for sure was going to be the purpose of Steam Box when rumors of its existence cropped up on the internet — how about you give us a $200 machine that streams our games from our PCs to our TVs so we can enjoy them in our living rooms instead of pushing us to buy basically another PC?

All is not lost in the mounting skepticism that is beginning to bury the new Steam Boxes. Out of all the newly unveiled consoles, there are two are competitively priced at $499; the Zoltac model — one that looks more like my Net Gear wireless router — priced at $599.  How do they stack up against their Sony and Microsoft counterparts?  

In short, according to a deep analysis of each console’s hardware, the $499 CYBERPOWERPC Steam Box outperforms both the PS4 and Xbox One in numerous areas.  With the added bonus of no online service fee (PSN, Xbox Live) and the open source possibly of a Linux OS — which can theoretically allow you to add any app for free — this box seems to be the most logical choice for the fiscally responsible gamer that is currently playing the role of Switzerland in this unrelenting console war.

 What are your thoughts on Valve’s Steam Machines?  Let me know below, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @richardwhelchel.


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