One of the most high-end-friendly builds to be shown in Valve’s first wave of Steam Machines revealed at CES 2014 was the Falcon Northwest Tiki, a tower with a price range topping out at $6,000 USD. According to Falcon Northwest President Kelt Reeves, the range they’ve offered thus far is just an early estimate, one that pre-supposes SteamOS users will have wants and needs all over the spectrum, not just at one single price-point with a single configuration. It would seem that not every Steam Machine manufacturer is attempting to make a gaming console.
The Falcon Northwest Tiki Steam Machine’s highest-end was revealed to be well above any other device in the starting lineup shown by Valve this year. While it’s certainly possible that the other manufacturers on the list could create a machine that’s just as expensive, it was only Falcon Northwest that opted to let it be known that they’re going to be offering devices that’d have such high-end parts and the possibility of unique customization that it’d cost such a price.
Reeves said as much: We definitely raised a few eyebrows with the "fully loaded" end of our price range, but that was more due to comparisons with the extremely underpowered Steam Machines trying to be consoles than surprise that powerful gaming PCs can run into the thousands.
And some people are a little shocked that yes, we really can put 6 Terabytes of storage and a GeForce TITAN in that little 4 inch-wide tower. But of course, our pricing is just a range estimate, and an early one at that.
We also had a chat recently with Steam Machine manufacturer Marketing Manager Ricky Lee of iBuyPower who suggested that their price point - closer to $499 USD - was much more in line with what users will be willing to pay for a PC that’ll sit alongside their television. Reeves disagrees with this idea, suggesting instead that configurability is key.
One of our first questions of Reeves also supposed that the Falcon Northwest Steam Machine line will run SteamOS alone, rather than being able to work as a Windows-based Gaming PC with a Steam client on it as well.
Reeves: The premise of the question implies that we wouldn’t offer Windows as well on such a configuration. On the contrary, for the Steam Machines initiative we didn’t create some little $500 integrated-graphics box exactly because we doubt our clientele would be interested in a Steam-only, barely 1080P-capable device.
Fixed hardware is the biggest problem with consoles, so a fixed-hardware PC is hardly the solution.
From our point of view such dedicated devices on such a young OS and small game library would not be a wise purchase. We fully expect that at the start of the SteamOS ecosystem that our clientele will essentially be adding the Steam Machine capabilities we can offer to the Tiki they were already envisioning.
That means multiple operating systems, multiple drives, and forward-looking hardware capable of 4K gaming, not just 1080P. Our clientele are used to having the best of everything, and we couldn’t imagine telling them they could only have one OS and one group of game titles.
We’ve already seen a host of Tiki configurations appearing over the past year, including a Tiki review unit we had our hands on in 2013. This device will be the first of a potential collection of Falcon Northwest Steam Machines, and will be ready to roll with the newest in internal configurations by the time Valve is ready to bring SteamOS to the public.
Reeves: Since the release date of Steam Machines is still so far out, talking exact hardware specs isn’t even possible at this point for a Tiki buyer, because Tiki will be faster and more capable by launch day.
It’s quite likely we’ll be able to offer 8TB just in SSD storage in Tikis by the time Valve declares Steam Machines ready to roll. GPUs, CPUs, memory, storage: as all of these advance, the Tiki platform will offer them and older Tikis can be upgraded to them. That’s the true strength of PCs vs. consoles.
Stay tuned as SlashGear continues to dive in to the SteamOS universe with Steam Machines, the Steam Controller, and every Valve bit in-between. While the first Steam Machines won’t be released until the second half of the year - more than likely - the OS is already upon us now. Jump in yourself right this minute!