Looks like the wait for the Steam Machine invasion is nearly over, as Valve Software has announced that the first "early bird" wave of hardware is expected to arrive on October 16, 2015 followed by a general retail release on November 10, 2015. Customers in North America wanting to get their Steam Machine on the October date need to pre-purchase a unit now, as this early release is a limited time offer.
Currently available on GameStop and Steam, customers can pre-purchase the Alienware model (opens in new tab) with a starting price of $449 or the Syber Steam Machine for a starting price of $499. A number of other Steam Machines will be made available to pre-purchase in the coming weeks.
In addition to the consoles, Valve is offering the Steam Controller for $49.99 and the Steam Link device, which will stream games from a Steam Machine console, Steam PC or Mac to any HDTV at 1080p 60 fps, for $49.99. Want both? Valve is selling these devices in a bundle for $99.98.
Taking a look at what Alienware has to offer, there are four models in its Steam Machine arsenal. These consist of the "i3" model with 500 GB for $449.99 or with 1 TB for $549.99, the "i5" model with 1 TB for $649.99, and the "i7" model with 1 TB for $749.99.
Syber's Steam Machine is offered in only three flavors. These include the Steam Machine X for hardcore gamers at $1,419, the Steam Machine P for the core gamers at $729, and the Steam Machine I for all gamers priced at $499. Syber adds that customers purchasing the "X" machine will be able to play the newest games at 4K, whereas the "P" model will play most games at a high resolution. The "I" machine is the best value of the three options.
In addition to Alienware and Syber, Valve also lists a large number of Steam Machines that are coming soon. These include the Asus ROG GR85 that has a starting price of $699.99, the Digital Storm Eclipse costing $699.99, the Gigabyte BRIX Pro for $599.99, the IBUYPOWER SBX starting at $459.99 and the Maingear DRIFT starting at $849.99.
"It's been a blast playing on our Alienware Steam Machines with our friends and family over recent months; it's really exciting to finally share that experience with our community of gamers," said Frank Azor, general manager of Alienware and XPS at Dell.
Valve Software introduced the SteamOS platform, the Steam Controller and its Steam Machine initiative back in September 2013. The launch window was originally set for 2014, but with no controller in sight, OEMs launched their solutions without the Steam Machine seal of approval. Now it's 2015 and the Steam Controller, which must be included with all Steam Machines, is apparently near perfection.
For now we have a definite launch date if all goes well at Valve Software. The question now is this: Will gamers buy into the whole Steam Machine hype and purchase one of these consoles? And will Steam Machines have enough hardware and games to directly compete with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4? We'll find out later this year.