Valve's Steam Machine initiative aims to get PC gaming back in the lounge room to take on the new generation of consoles.
The Steam Machine is a small form factor PC that runs SteamOS and (optionally) uses the Steam Controller. The trick for Valve is to ensure that manufacturers are able to get the Steam Machine out to retail at a competitive price — unlike its own very beefy prototype that has a spec sheet that could cost around US$1000 in retail.
US-based third-party hardware maker iBuyPower has shown off two of its own Steam Machines, called Gordon and Freeman. (The actual differences between the two devices appear to be mainly around styling rather than hardware.)
According to The Verge, iBuyPower is offering packs in a multi-core AMD CPU and a separate AMD Radeon R9 270 GPU which, along with the Steam Controller, makes US$499 a veritable bargain-basement price, as well as putting it in line with the PS4 and Xbox One. According to the maker, Gordon (or Freeman) will happily run titles full 1080p HD and at 60 frames per second.
Of course, at that price, you're not getting Windows — you're just getting SteamOS — which makes this less of a hybrid PC and more a straight gaming device. Still, the pricing is closer to what people seem willing to pay and may be a solid step at getting PC gaming to more than just the hardcore enthusiasts.