Amid all the excitement surrounding the release of Fallout 4, you can be forgiven for completely missing another huge nugget of gaming news. The first of Valve’s long-awaited Steam Machines have landed in the UK, and they’ve done so unusually quietly. We've rounded up the best Steam Machines available in the UK right now, which you can find below. First, here's some buying guidance.
If you don’t what all the fuss (okay, the flurry of excitement) is about, Steam machines are essentially a new breed of console-sized computers designed to sit in your living room, allowing you to get all gamey on your TV. What's great about Steam Machines is that there are already thousands of playable SteamOS games, so you can get stuck right into the titles you love without having to be particularly patient at all.
Something we need to mention straight away is price. You may be surprised to find out that the cheapest Steam Machine currently available costs just under £500. That's almost twice as much as the PS4 or Xbox One. However, you need to think about the bigger picture. Valve's regular Steam sales often see games knocked down to a couple of pounds, and the big releases almost always launch at a cheaper price on PC than console. If you're planning on building up a big collection, a Steam Machine could work out cheaper in the long run.
They're also more powerful than regular consoles, packing more power, as well as better processors and graphics. While this isn't a hard guarantee that Steam Machines will run the same game better than the PS4 or Xbox One, it will generally be the case.
Valve, like Google with smartphones, has decided not to develop its own hardware, though its decision has backfired a little. Hardware specialists are instead building the machines, and of the 15 we were expecting to have arrived by now, only three have made it to market so far. Maybe you'll have to dig up that patience after all.
Here's a short breakdown of the best Steam Machines currently on the market.
Best Steam Machine on a Budget
The Alienware 1 is the currently holder of that title, coming in at a relatively wallet-friendly £448.99. Before you tune out, that's less than half of what you'll pay for some of its rivals. Alienware's creation squeezes in an Intel Core i3 processor, a GeForce GTX 860M graphics card, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB SATA hard drive.
Best Steam Machine for High Spec Gaming
At a whopping £1,205, you're going to have to have a decent amount saved up in order to afford the Syber Steam Machine X. As you'd hope, it's a beast, packing an Intel Core i7 processor, a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SATA hard drive. This is for serious players, if that makes sense.
Best Steam Machine for Value
Don't worry if you haven't got enough in your Piggy Bank for the X. Dry your eyes, it's not the end of the world. That's because its little brother looks like an excellent model, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper. The Syber Steam Machine P costs £695, running on an Intel Core i5 processor, GTX 960 graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB SATA hard drive. Not at all bad.
What's going on with the Zotac Nen Steam Machine is a bit of a mystery. It's launched in the UK, but is only available from the US version of Amazon right now, though you can get it shipped across to the UK. It's an $900 (£590) model that goes head to head with the Syber P, featuring an Intel Core i5 processor, a GeForce GTX 960 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
Both Alienware and Syber are also flogging multiple versions of their Steam Machines, with different configurations available at different price points.