New Steam Machines have been unveiled today, courtesy of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. We finally have something a bit beefier and certainly more concrete in which we can compare the home consoles against Valve's foray into the living room entertainment arena, with their multi-branded OEM Steam Machines. For this article, we can compare Cyberpower's Steam Machine and its specs/price against the PS4 and Xbox One.
So as we already know, the iBuyPower Steam Machine completely trumps the Xbox One in both price and performance. The system costs $499 and offers you a heck of a lot more bang for your buck at that price point. But how well does the competition measure up on a similar spectrum with slightly alternate specifications?
Well, after two more Steam Machine spec sheets were revealed earlier we now have an idea of how to compare the price to performance ratio that you get in the Steam Machine and what you get in both the Xbox One and PS4. For this comparison we'll use the $499 model, which is likely to hit closer to home for average consumers looking to invest in either a home console or Steam Machine.
The Xbox One and PS4 both rock Jaguar APU technology provided by AMD. Both systems also house octo-core processors. The PS4's core clock speed is 1.6ghz with a max OC range of 2.75ghz per core. The Xbox One's core processing speed was upped to 1.75ghz after Microsoft announced they would give the CPU a 10% performance boost.
By comparison, the CyberpowerPC Steam Machine rocks an A6-6400K 3.90 GHz CPU from AMD. Simply put, compared to the tablet-style Jaguar APUs in the Xbox One and PS4, overclocked, the A6-6400K has more brute-force performance per core, even though the PS4 and Xbox One have more cores. Essentially, this could mean the A6-6400K could be out-classed with games that take advantage of mult-threaded design configurations, but those games are far and few between.
While the APUs for the Xbox One and PS4 have the CPU and GPU sharing a die, they're still clocked differently enough to stand against the comparison of what will be featured in the OEM Steam Machines. The Xbox One's GPU was upgraded by 53mhz just before going into production, allowing for an 853mhz core clock speed of the GPU with 12 compute units. The PS4 has an 800mhz core clock speed with 18 compute units, as noted by Gizmag. The PS4 also had some custom design work done on the GPU, in which it allows the GPU to out muscle the Xbox One by a theoretical performance rate of up to 50%.
The CyberpowerPC Steam Machine is rocking a Radeon R9 270 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM. The Xbox One's GPU is about equivalent to an underclocked 7770, which by comparison, would mean the R9 270 outdoes the Xbox One in memory bandwidth by about 150% and a pixel rate of more than 100% according to the Hardware Compare chart. With the PS4's GPU capabilities closer to a Radeon HD 7870, that would mean the R9 270 is potentially 17% faster when it comes to memory bandwidth and 11% more powerful when it comes to pixel computations according to Hardware Compare. Of course, the R9 270 can scale with overclocking, enabling it to outperform the PS4 over the long haul with proper cooling.
The Xbox One is using 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and 32MB of ESRAM. The latter is mainly for caching purposes. The 8GB of DDR3 however is divided with the OS requirements, which zaps 3GB, bringing the usable amount down to 5GB. The PS4 also has 8GB but it's shared GDDR5 memory between the GPU and CPU on the APU. There is continual debate about the PS4's OS RAM requirements but most suggest it, too, is limited to 5GB of usable RAM.
By comparison, the CyberpowerPC Steam Machine comes with 8GB of DDR3 dual-channel 1600mhz memory with overclocking capabilities. While we don't have a stable footprint on the SteamOS' RAM requirements, it's suggested that you have at least 4GB of RAM installed, which would mean that it's likely to use up about 1GB, similar to Windows 7. In essence, SteamOS has a smaller RAM requirement overhead than the home consoles and has scalable speeds.
The CyberpowerPC Steam Machine is $499. The Xbox One is $499. The PS4 is $399. Even at $100 more than the PS4, the specs of the Steam Machine are obviously more powerful given their scalability; and given the open-source Linux OS, you can add whatever apps you want, for free. Did I also happen to mention that there is no multiplayer fee for playing online unlike the Xbox One or PS4? Well, there isn't.
Simply put: The CyperpowerPC Steam Machine beats the PS4 and Xbox One in specs and price, especially comparing what you're getting in the package for the same price as Microsoft's offering and for $100 more than Sony's offerings.
Essentially, if you're looking for a good living room interactive entertainment solution, the price-to-performance offerings from the OEM Steam Machine from Cyberpower is absolutely unbeatable by the rivaling consoles. The only thing that could even out and justify their prices are the console exclusives.