Hands-On with Digital Storm's first Steam Machine - The Bolt II

Devin Connors:
SSF (Small Form Factor)

Not to quibble (OK, slightly quibbling) but Small Form Factor abbreviates to SFF, not SSF.

$1800, or even $1500 ends this before it even begins. The article could literally have said, "there's a Steam Machine, but it's $1500" and ended right there.

The market for people who:

a) Want a decent gaming rig, but not a high-end one
b) Don't want to build it themselves
c) Are fine paying a premium for....I guess a cool case, someone building it for them, and having some expandability (but again, they don't want to build it themselves.....but expanding is fine)

is going to be virtually nil.

Look, Steam Machines are being thrown out there as legit competition to consoles. If you're going to compete with a console, you need to at least be in the same ballpark as a console. If they want to make some real waves, they need to figure out how to come out with a decent one at, at least $50 under the price of the xbone/ps4. If it's just to cater to the PC market, guess what? We already have and can get/build PCs.

schmulki:

Look, Steam Machines are being thrown out there as legit competition to consoles. If you're going to compete with a console, you need to at least be in the same ballpark as a console. If they want to make some real waves, they need to figure out how to come out with a decent one at, at least $50 under the price of the xbone/ps4. If it's just to cater to the PC market, guess what? We already have and can get/build PCs.

Exactly this.

I'd consider a SteamBox even if it was $600. But being one of the vocal opponents of the $100 mandatory Kinect, I'd feel a bit hypocritical even accepting that price point.

Granted, iBuyPower has one for a tentative $499, but the announced specs aren't much better than the $500 PC I build 2 years ago.

Putting out a dozen or more options from various manufacturers for a "SteamBox" isn't going to help the product price, will muddy any marketing efforts, and will just confuse your "average" customer*. Standardization is paramount when designing a console.

*Trust me on this one. Anyone stuck behind a first-timer at HuHot knows how an average consumer reacts when presented with many possible choices and potential configurations.

For an $1800+ small form factor PC i would expect a GPU to come with a water-block or at least a cooler that wasn't stock. With just a slightly larger width of form factor, or even in the same size envelope, I've seen systems be developed that get around the heating issues with much more headroom using a more bespoke water cooling solution.

In fact for most super high end mini ITX based PC's that's pretty much their thing.

Not really interested... perhaps if it could play both pc and console games. I would gladly buy one if it meant that it would make the ps4 and Xbox one utterly obsolete :D

Sofus:
Not really interested... perhaps if it could play both pc and console games. I would gladly buy one if it meant that it would make the ps4 and Xbox one utterly obsolete :D

Umm... It CAN play both PC and console games, just not ones that are locked to specific consoles because they're owned by the companies who make the consoles and are sold as selling points FOR their consoles... So that will never happen.

Sounds like Steam Machines are the next 3DO's, look nice but very expensive compared to more popular established options.

The fact gaming quality and experience vary widely based on money spent is another problem for these things.

If they would have just made a PC OS that was as open and developer friendly as XP they'd have made a lot more sales even if it would have been a bigger investment.

I'm curious to see what the other consoles would be like. I expect a variety of prices and performance qualities. These are obviously the high end. I want to see some mid and low end.

Nurb:
Sounds like Steam Machines are the next 3DO's, look nice but very expensive compared to more popular established options.

The fact gaming quality and experience vary widely based on money spent is another problem for these things.

If they would have just made a PC OS that was as open and developer friendly as XP they'd have made a lot more sales even if it would have been a bigger investment.

You realise the OS is what makes these PCs steam machines/boxes. Install the OS on your own pc or laptop and for free you've got a 'steambox', there's nothing unique about these other than the controller which will likely be available seperatly. That is where the potential lies, anyone with a gaming machine can set it up as a steam box (once it's fully released and not in alpha/beta)

RicoADF:

Nurb:
Sounds like Steam Machines are the next 3DO's, look nice but very expensive compared to more popular established options.

The fact gaming quality and experience vary widely based on money spent is another problem for these things.

If they would have just made a PC OS that was as open and developer friendly as XP they'd have made a lot more sales even if it would have been a bigger investment.

You realise the OS is what makes these PCs steam machines/boxes. Install the OS on your own pc or laptop and for free you've got a 'steambox', there's nothing unique about these other than the controller which will likely be available seperatly. That is where the potential lies, anyone with a gaming machine can set it up as a steam box (once it's fully released and not in alpha/beta)

Not entirely true. You have to be aware of what hardware Linux drivers support (which isn't as large a list as for Windows). But aside from some potential compatibility issues, yeah that's pretty much the situation. I'm actually a bit surprised how many companies are jumping on the hardware bandwagon...it makes the likelihood of success for any one of them pretty low (unless someone figures out how to do it better/cheaper).

Avaholic03:

RicoADF:

Nurb:
Sounds like Steam Machines are the next 3DO's, look nice but very expensive compared to more popular established options.

The fact gaming quality and experience vary widely based on money spent is another problem for these things.

If they would have just made a PC OS that was as open and developer friendly as XP they'd have made a lot more sales even if it would have been a bigger investment.

You realise the OS is what makes these PCs steam machines/boxes. Install the OS on your own pc or laptop and for free you've got a 'steambox', there's nothing unique about these other than the controller which will likely be available seperatly. That is where the potential lies, anyone with a gaming machine can set it up as a steam box (once it's fully released and not in alpha/beta)

Not entirely true. You have to be aware of what hardware Linux drivers support (which isn't as large a list as for Windows). But aside from some potential compatibility issues, yeah that's pretty much the situation. I'm actually a bit surprised how many companies are jumping on the hardware bandwagon...it makes the likelihood of success for any one of them pretty low (unless someone figures out how to do it better/cheaper).

Its probably dirt cheap to make a Steam Machine because the only thing you need is Steam OS to call it a Steam Machine. The only one I've seen thats even attemptin to fill the niche the Steam Machine was supposed to fill was the iBuypower one while the rest are just turnin into slightly smaller, far more expensive prebuilt pcs.

On topic!

Im slightly shocked. I thought that thing would actually be a whole lot bigger. On the flip side, whoever would shove their PC into a slot with so little air flow is just askin it to fry itself.

This is only machine I've been intrigued by so far. I see it more as a gaming PC that also can function as a steam machine. If you dual boot SteamOS and windows, you pretty much have all your bases covered. I'm not sure the price will make it worthwhile but it has snagged my attention. I'm sure that I'm itching to build a new PC plays a big factor though.

schmulki:
$1800, or even $1500 ends this before it even begins. The article could literally have said, "there's a Steam Machine, but it's $1500" and ended right there.

The market for people who:

a) Want a decent gaming rig, but not a high-end one
b) Don't want to build it themselves
c) Are fine paying a premium for....I guess a cool case, someone building it for them, and having some expandability (but again, they don't want to build it themselves.....but expanding is fine)

is going to be virtually nil.

Look, Steam Machines are being thrown out there as legit competition to consoles. If you're going to compete with a console, you need to at least be in the same ballpark as a console. If they want to make some real waves, they need to figure out how to come out with a decent one at, at least $50 under the price of the xbone/ps4. If it's just to cater to the PC market, guess what? We already have and can get/build PCs.

It has an $700-$800 video card in it, one of the most powerful cards on the market. In fact, videocardbenchmark.net puts this card at the very top of their high end video card list, scoring higher than any other consumer grade card they tested as of today. How is that not high end?

And it's not just the video card. The CPU is a $350 CPU. It has a really good mother board. The memory, at least in that box, is good and plentiful. The case seems to be of high quality and it has a really good cooling system and power supply.

There is nothing in this box that isn't high end, and you would have a difficult time putting together a box this good for less than $1500. I mean, that is still a lot of money and I won't be buying one. But lets not pretend that it is vastly overcharging for inferior parts.

DrOswald:
It has an $700-$800 video card in it, one of the most powerful cards on the market. In fact, videocardbenchmark.net puts this card at the very top of their high end video card list, scoring higher than any other consumer grade card they tested as of today. How is that not high end?

And it's not just the video card. The CPU is a $350 CPU. It has a really good mother board. The memory, at least in that box, is good and plentiful. The case seems to be of high quality and it has a really good cooling system and power supply.

There is nothing in this box that isn't high end, and you would have a difficult time putting together a box this good for less than $1500. I mean, that is still a lot of money and I won't be buying one. But lets not pretend that it is vastly overcharging for inferior parts.

It's a $700 video card and a $300 CPU, on Newegg. We'll leave aside the obvious fact that companies pay less, esp when buying in bulk, and so now I'm supposed to be happy with $500 for a mobo, HDD, RAM, fans, and case? This, for the price, is decent, not great.

And.....I guess we're ignoring the part I said about how it doesn't matter, since this is supposed to be competing with consoles, yet is priced 3-4x what the new consoles are?

schmulki:

DrOswald:
It has an $700-$800 video card in it, one of the most powerful cards on the market. In fact, videocardbenchmark.net puts this card at the very top of their high end video card list, scoring higher than any other consumer grade card they tested as of today. How is that not high end?

And it's not just the video card. The CPU is a $350 CPU. It has a really good mother board. The memory, at least in that box, is good and plentiful. The case seems to be of high quality and it has a really good cooling system and power supply.

There is nothing in this box that isn't high end, and you would have a difficult time putting together a box this good for less than $1500. I mean, that is still a lot of money and I won't be buying one. But lets not pretend that it is vastly overcharging for inferior parts.

It's a $700 video card and a $300 CPU, on Newegg. We'll leave aside the obvious fact that companies pay less, esp when buying in bulk, and so now I'm supposed to be happy with $500 for a mobo, HDD, RAM, fans, and case? This, for the price, is decent, not great.

Well, yes, considering it has a $200+ mobo, a $100+ Hard drive, ~$150 of ram, an $80+ PSU, a highly efficient cooling system (needed seeing as it will probably be put in smaller, tighter spaces than your typical PC,) a really nice case (say, $80 on the low side), a blue ray drive, and, lest we forget, a steam controller.

Also, correction, it is a $340 cpu on newegg and the price of the video card varies based on the manufacture and retailer from $700-$800.

Now that I actually total it all up, unless you bargain hunt for every part there is no way you could hope to find all these parts for only $1500 if you were building it yourself. So yes, if the price is $1500 you should be happy with it, at least from a sum of parts perspective.

And.....I guess we're ignoring the part I said about how it doesn't matter, since this is supposed to be competing with consoles, yet is priced 3-4x what the new consoles are?

I mainly took exception with when you said "a) Want a decent gaming rig, but not a high-end one" as this is clearly a high end system. It might not be the absolute highest end system you could make, but it is right up there.

And I wasn't going to argue the competitor of consoles thing because they are plainly very different products with very different target demographics. The main consoles are a general one size fits all for gamers, but this particular model is specifically tailored to the desires of the enthusiast. It is like cars. A Ferrari runs you about $200,000, but that doesn't mean it has no place because a Mazda 3 is only $17,000.

 

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