The challenge of manufacturing a PC/console hybrid is a really stiff one: How do you develop a console with enough power to push high-end PC graphics without running the cost of the device above consumer’s expectations? While Steam Machine creator Valve has detailed a prototype with impressive guts – including an Nvidia Titan graphics card — that has the potential to cost more than $1000 retail.
But, according to the Verge, third-party hardware developer iBuyPower has revealed a Steam Box prototype to be released sometime in 2014 that strikes that balance, offering a good-quality system for the price of $499 — the same cost as the Xbox One.
The system, which is said to be roughly between the sizes of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, has an AMD CPU and an AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card, which will be able to stream games in 1080p HD with its 2.69 teraflops of computing power. The system will also have a 500GB hard drive, both wireless and bluetooth capabilities, and Valve’s Steam Controller comes standard with the package. Unfortunately, the box apparently still lacks the “bells and whistles” — Windows support and mega storage, among others — but that’s the trade-off for the price tag.
With those features, iBuyPower’s console actually brings the Steam Machine into the realm of affordability for many home gamers. While it still costs more than nearly every traditional console on the market right now, it’s a much more viable option than a traditional PC gaming rig — and that’s how this hybrid will earn loyal fans. That is, if it can actually follow through on the promise to bring PC quality to the the living room for the same cost as a console.