The pretty little Steam Machine, dubbed "SBX," is iBuyPower's direct challenge to Microsoft and Sony's new game consoles: $500 gets you the box, a Steam Controller, an HDMI cable, and all the power therein. The prototype we saw packs a quad-core Athlon X4 740 CPU ("with some voltage and speed tweaks"), 4GB RAM, a 500GB HDD, and a Radeon R7 250 GPU (1GB GDDR5) power SteamOS -- no dual-booting here! iBuyPower's hoping for a Radeon R7 260X ("or equivalent") GPU when the SBX ships later this year, but we're told most of the other specs won't change.
iBuyPower's Tuan Nguyen sees it as his company's first console, rather than a highly modified PC. It's easy to see his perspective after spending some time with a prototype here at CES. Of the various Steam Machines announced this evening during Valve's press event, SBX is a middle of the road entry in terms of both price and specs. It'll run today's prettiest games on Steam without an issue, but not all of them turned all the way up. Two color variations of the box are planned for when SBX goes on sale later this year ("around June or July" we're told): glossy white and matte black. And that color bar dividing SBX in two? An iOS and Android app named LEDControl enables a wide variety of color choices on the fly (no light at all is also an option).
iBuyPower kindly left us with one of its prototype boxes and we'll be testing it throughout the week (sadly, without a beta Steam Controller), so keep an eye out for more on this particular Steam Machine as CES 2014 rattles on.