The Steam Clears From iBuyPower’s SteamOS Machine

By Nathan Grayson on November 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Uggggh, oh jeez. Mommmmmmmm, PlayStation 4 ate Xbox 360 again!

Valve’s already shown off a prototype of its mythical Steam Box, but what about all these third-party machines we keep hearing about? The hope is that they’ll offer price and versatility options where Valve can’t cut it on its own, so they could end up just as key in the FutureWar For The Living Room as GabeN’s boxy baby. Valve claims that numerous manufacturers are backing it up, but for now only iBuyPower has un-holstered its gleaming dust magnet of a secret weapon. Meet Gordon (or Freeman, depending on your preference for systems that look like glow-in-the-dark sandwiches). He will apparently be able to run all of your games in 1080p at 60 FPS.

iBuyPower made the above claim to Engadget, also noting that its box will launch sometime in 2014. Right now, however, the third-party Steam Machine is still “early,” taking the form of two prototypes. The version of SteamOS currently under its hood is also, rather unsurprisingly, unfinished.

While 1080p isn’t the craziest resolution by PC standards, iBuyPower’s white box of wonderment will still require decently hefty specs if 60 FPS forĀ all games is the planned target. The short version? It probably won’t be cheap.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when other manufacturers start breaking cover around CES. Will prices/specs skew higher? Lower? And what do the guts of Valve’s machine look like? These factors could all make or break SteamOS, but only time will tell how. Until then, though, does anyone have any good directives for the Speculate-O-Tron’s roaring gears?

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69 Comments »

    • Leb says:

      *puts on wishlist*

      • DerRidda says:

        You should remove that from your wishlist and wait for the other machines. The Linux drivers AMD provides are sub par and that’s exactly the reason why anybody that means to design a proper Steam Machine right now simply will have to go for Nvidia on the GPU side.
        This tells me they didn’t really put much thought into it but rather tossed together some cheap hardware and try to leverage the hype around the Steam Machines.

        • Baines says:

          IBuyPower favors AMD for their cheaper offerings for the simple detail that Intel and Nvidia parts are more expensive. You can see the differences in their regular “build a custom PC” app, as well as their front page “starter” builds (which are still fully customizable).

          Valve supposedly had multiple builds for the “SteamBox”, and that is likely the “cheap, but still capable of running games itself” build.

        • ObiDamnKenobi says:

          And when did you last try that? I had issues a few months ago, but running Ubuntu 13.10 with a 6950 I’ve had no problems. Left for dead 2 runs without a hitch on FOSS drivers.

    • vasek45 says:

      >r9 270
      >all games at 1080p/60fps
      On medium with 2x aa at best, possibly even worse for 2014 titles.

      • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

        Still stronger than the consoles, which is what it’s competing against.

        • klmx says:

          Guessing the PS4 comes rather close, given platform optimization with it’s 7850 based GPU

      • kalirion says:

        Am I the only one who never sees the benefits of 2xAA? 4xAA is great, 2xAA only impact the performance without raising the perceived quality for me. I’d rather go 0xAA and tun up some other setting.

        • Lev Astov says:

          I agree completely. And at 1920×1080 or greater, it’s barely worthwhile anyway. I suppose on a larger screen it’ll be more apparent, but I game on a 1920×1200 projector and don’t feel anything below 4x AA adds anything.

        • fish99 says:

          It looks significantly better than 0x for me, and impacts the performance much less than 4x.

      • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

        Really? The 270 is quite strong in the 1080p space. http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_radeon_r9_270_review,17.html

        • vasek45 says:

          Well, I admit I’ve been too harsh but the problem is that they’re testing it with a six-core Intel Core i7-3960XEE which presumably won’t be the case with the box in discussion. Not that games are CPU-dependent but I expect that fps is gonna be at least somewhat lower than here.
          And even with this setup in the test it doesn’t hit the sweet 60 anywhere and is ranging between 35 and 50 depending on the game. And that’s the average while what we’re talking about (at least in theory) is the stable ~60 without heavy drops.

      • Dana says:

        According to benchmarks it can run Battlefield 4 on everything high, with i5.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        From the linked article from The Verge: “Still, iBuyPower says that existing Steam for Linux games should run quite well, at full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second.”

        Bit of a caveat.

        • iniudan says:

          You do know existing game include Metro Last Light, which is one of the most graphically demanding game currently out ?

      • Rockman says:

        Probably about right, But you have to bear in mind this isn’t in competition with your gaming rig, it still knocks seven shades of sh. out of the consoles though.

    • Premium User Badge FriendlyFire says:

      That price just made all this suddenly very interesting. This is the first Steam Machine which competes with consoles in pricing.

      • cunningmunki says:

        To be fair, it’s the first “Steam Machine” (that is, a machine that will come with SteamOS and be branded as such).

        I can’t wait to see more of these and 2014 can’t come soon enough (and I’m sure my 8 months pregnant wife will agree).

        • Premium User Badge jrodman says:

          I wonder what a graph of price points vs interest level would look like — with a HUGE grain of salt that I’m assuming there’s some kind of continuous performance slider with the price.

    • Apocalypse says:

      And it will not run all my games at 60 FPS.
      “the computer will offer a multicore AMD CPU and a discrete AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card”, sounds like it is in line with the performance of a PS4. A little more powerful, much more upgradeable and with all the freedom you ever want to mess with the bootloader.

      I want one for my bed room if it is silent, though add a 290 option for another $200 please, I am running in my bedroom a 1440p screen ;-)

      • fish99 says:

        I dunno about the upgradeability. How much PSU headroom is there if you upgrade the GPU? Can you even fit a better GPU in there? Can you change the PSU? Is it designed to be easily opened? Can you change the mobo? Does it have spare ram slots? Does it take standard parts?

        A lot of unanswered questions.

    • Keyrock says:

      That’s a pretty attractive price for those specs. 60 fps on all games at 1080p might be stretching it for a R9 270, maybe on low settings for some games, but it will indeed be able to do that with most games. Still, same price as XBone, but considerably more horsepower, granted no camera to look at your dick.

      • DrManhatten says:

        What you actually wanted to say no device that can be used as a cheap 3D-scanner that can make a 3d-model of his ….. Kinect is the coolest tech Microsoft bought up/improved in the last 10 years. Just not that useful for games. But together with a 3D printer it will revolutionize the world.

  1. BTAxis says:

    There is no way this thing can deliver on that promise of 60FPS for all games, not even all Steam games.

    • karthink says:

      All Steam OS games? There are so few, and most of them are indie efforts. With the exception of Metro: Last Light, it should have little trouble with the rest.

      • BTAxis says:

        Maybe. But even then, I feel it’s presumptuous to make a promise like this on the hardware side of things. How fast a game runs is always a function of how the software uses the hardware, which means future games may, for example, opt to run at 30FPS to achieve higher graphical fidelity. You simply can’t make statements about game performance as a hardware maker, because it’s not solely up to you.

    • bstard says:

      Maybe it’ll be part of this SmegBox’s criteria, that games get a veryverylow graph setting to comply with this 60fps.

      ‘Lord PercyPercy turns his hand to alchemy and succeeds in creating something green.’

      • BTAxis says:

        I thought of that, but then the promise becomes dishonest. It goes from “our machine can run all of your games at 60FPS” to “our machine will only allow games that can run at 60FPS”. Not the same thing at all.

        • Grey Poupon says:

          You really don’t have to dig that deep to find “all games at full hd and 60fps” dishonest. It’s quite obvious it won’t be able to do that. There’s very few machines that can, and even then there’s a few titles that are capped at 30 fps. That said, this shouldn’t be the first time anyone hears someone advertising their product as being better than it is.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          From reading other articles, they make it very clear that the 1080p at 60fps claim is only for existing Linux-based games on Steam.

    • uh20 says:

      actually it is amazing the power that you can spare running steam all by itself, preventing people from doing anything else with their computer >_>
      back when i afforded my computers $500 of guts and ran out of money for a graphics card, i was able to bring some mid-graphics games (and tf2) up an extra 20 fps by running steam with absolutely nothing behind it. so the 60fps promise is definitely acheivable

      plus the amd R9 is probably one of the first not-linux-flawed card to release in quite a while.

    • Kerbal_Rocketry says:

      While they say “60fps at 1080p” they make no consession on if some games might need you to lower some graphics settings to get that 60fps.
      For $500 it’s not impossible, i get a decent 45fps at 1080p with settings maxed on most games.

      • kalirion says:

        You realize “maxed” means including 16xAA, or whatever the max the game supports, right? I doubt you could do that @1080p for $500 and get 45FPS on even lots of 3 year old AAA games.

        Of course if you only play indie games, I could see that.

    • MadArcher says:

      Nobody said they were looking great while running @ 60 fps…

    • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

      Why wouldn’t it be able to deliver? A 270 is pretty strong in that resolution space. http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_radeon_r9_270_review,17.html

  2. Text_Fish says:

    Goooood, goooood. I hear the distant sound of a nail being hammered in to the coffin of proprietary consoles. Muahahahahaaaaarrrhjghhphth. Excuse me.

  3. kalirion says:

    IBuyPower? Lol, look up some reviews of that site. IIRC, the common consensus was to only buy there if you know enough to open up the case later and figure out why it doesn’t work – the prices are better than a lot of the competition, and the parts may even be quality brands, but the actual assembly & testing are somewhat … lacking, and the customer support is simply dreadful. But in that case, why not just build it yourself?

    Of course this was a few years back when I was shopping around for a new PC, maybe they and their sister sites (CyberPowerPC, etc) turned things around since then.

    Still, I wouldn’t trust any of their performance claims.

    • Tinotoin says:

      “But in that case, why not just build it yourself?”

      Because the case is horrible!

      :)

      sorry

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I’ve had a very positive experience with iBuyPower. Very positive. Bought a gaming PC for a nephew and the quality and workmanship were very nice. They went the extra mile to do a decent job. (I’m not affiliated in any way besides being a customer). They hit a very good price point for me, too.

    • Baines says:

      People who say “Just build it yourself” are always down on sites like IBuyPower, probably because their own “You can save hundreds building it yourself” builds often end up fairly similar to what a deal-conscious person can construct on sites like IBuyPower.

      I’m not saying IBuyPower is a great site. I’ve never used them. But it can be hard to get a fair opinion of them. Even quality and support are relative when you consider the stories that people also tell about Dell, HP, and the rest. Some people get good machines, some get bad, and it is hard to judge what the percentages are from anecdotal accounts. (Mind, it also stands out more when Dell releases an expensive laptop with a line-wide defective motherboard or a GPU that melts itself than when random people have random failures tied to different parts and construction of their custom build.)

  4. Megakoresh says:

    Bitch, please, where’s my 40Kg HAFX PC? I will just put that below the TV. Problem solved.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I’ve got to admit, the HAF X was some of the best money I ever spent. My wife thinks I have an unhealthy attachment to that great big box.

      I’m referring to the computer case.

      • Megakoresh says:

        Aye, best tank PC case in history! You can use it to ram fortresses!

      • GROM says:

        just looked it up, not really subtle is it.

        just bought a fractal node 304 cube to put next to my tv, and I still think it’s too big

        • Ich Will says:

          So… my cosmos 2 wouldn’t be your first choice then?

          • Megakoresh says:

            Eww, it’s one of those pimped out ones :/
            Real men take the tough and ugly!

  5. stele says:

    Didn’t they hear 4K is right around the corner?

  6. Cam says:

    And here begins the beginning of bent-truths in advertising for steam-boxes. That box probably COULD run any game at 60 fps at 1080p(assuming the game wasn’t capped at 30fps), BUT, that will require running at lower graphics settings most of the time.

    Instead of retailers making incomplete claims of how good a particular steambox is, it would be better for all of us if they simply taught non-PC gamers how to tell different hardware apart, or at least get them into the habit of comparing benchmarks. The PC-parts market doesn’t need a new layer of annoying marketing tactics.

  7. Premium User Badge Don Reba says:

    He will apparently be able to run all of your games in 1080p at 60 FPS.

    Even Crysis?

    • kalirion says:

      Crysis is not SteamOS ready.

      So sure, it will run at 60fps maxed out when streamed from your $2000 gaming rig.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Even Crysis on low.

  8. luieburger says:

    Just watch. It will be plagued by disk drive failures just like the XBone and PS4 were.

    Oh wait… no disk drive. No problems. <3

    I find it so funny that the console kiddies cling to their physical media… if you really need a disk drive, get a $20 USB drive. You can probably even get BluRay drives like that these days if you want. Really though, there's no need for physical media.

    EDIT: Apparently you can get an external Blu-Ray drive for $34 on Amazon. Checkmate, consoles. GG External burners are $170, but hardly anybody burns to BluRay drives. Of course, with PC/SteamBox you have the freedom to do that if you want.

    • Premium User Badge Don Reba says:

      It has been tried. Neither Sega CD nor the Xbox 360 HD DVD player were exactly stellar successes.

  9. baziz says:

    I think other manufacturers will be able to hit a lower price point. This company seems like they make custom assembled computers, which doesn’t leave much room for the bulk discounts that help make hardware cheaper. I’m wondering if we’ll see larger PC manufacturers try this market out. Dell/Alienware, Asus, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, etc? This should be a very attractive market for PC makers because yearly upgrades.

    Perhaps we’ll also see bunch of crowd-sourced bulk purchasing options pop up. Perhaps a Kickstarter for Steam machine parts at a discount?

    Specs: Don’t worry about manufacturers puffing up their specs. Remember that a few months ago it was revealed that Valve will solve the hard-to-understand-specs problem via data-mining their existing steam hardware survey. It sounded like they’ll be able to look up performance/hardware correlations for any game and tell you what to expect from any hardware.

    OS: Ideally nothing will stop you from putting Windows on these machines. There will probably come a point where you really don’t want to, though. I would even expect that the folks who make those customized slim windows installations will make versions that will auto-boot Steam into big picture mode.

  10. Text_Fish says:

    I hope Alienware release a Steambox called the UFO. I won’t be able to afford it because it’s Alienware, but I’d like to know it’s out there all the same.

  11. DJ0JJ says:

    I think that NVIDIA should do their act and make a mobo with a 760 (GK104) inside (Like a laptop) so we can have our powerful SteamBox with the size of a XBONE

  12. DrManhatten says:

    Another sign that Valve has no clue what they are doing or hasn’t learned from history *cough* 3DO *cough* *cough*

    • Keyrock says:

      I fail to see the connection. The 3DO failed mostly due to being far too expensive. This machine is going to be the same price as the XBone.

  13. Premium User Badge Jackablade says:

    Mhmm, IBuyPower. So that’s the name you’re going to go with for your company, huh?

  14. FecesOfDeath says:

    It looks like the lovechild of the original Xbox 360 and the PS4.

  15. AJLeuer says:

    If I were looking for a gaming rig right now this would be my first choice. But to be honest I’d probably wipe the hard drive and install Windows, at least for now. It’s not that I don’t have faith in Valve to make SteamOS a great platform, its just that even if they get every major publisher onboard it will still be a while before it starts getting the major releases. And if they can’t get EA onboard… I’m sorry but life without Dragon Age, Battlefield, and Mass Effect is not worth living.