Valve's official Steam Machine prototype isn't cheap, but it won't be the only Steam-powered video-game console available come 2014. This morning, iBuyPower revealed a prototype of its own upcoming Steam Machine, which will go on sale for just $499 next year. For the price of an Xbox One, the computer will offer a multicore AMD CPU and a discrete
AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card — that's a $180 GPU all by itself — and come with Valve's Steam Controller as part of the package deal.
Update: Over a month after this story was published, iBuyPower tells us that it goofed. The current prototype has a far less powerful R7 250 graphics card, and is aiming to have a still less-powerful but Mantle-capable R7 260X GPU.
The company says the box is bigger than a PlayStation 4 but smaller than Microsoft's Xbox One, and comes standard with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 500GB hard drive. The glossy white case also has a fully customizable light bar running down the center channel, and an integrated power supply. You won't have to find room for a power brick on your home entertainment center shelves.
For the price, you won't be getting Windows, only Valve's Linux-based Steam OS, which could be an issue starting out. While Valve has quite a few games running on Linux already, and says that major game developers will be building triple-A game titles specifically for Steam OS in 2014, it's not quite the same as having the entire Windows catalog as a fallback. Still, iBuyPower says that existing Steam for Linux games should run quite well, at full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. We're looking forward to see just how much power iBuyPower can provide for under $500.