Maingear Announces Drift 4K Steam Machine

Steam boxes, powerful gaming computers that work like home consoles, haven't materialized quite like gamers thought they would. But Maingear hopes to change that with the Drift. This powerful gaming rig looks and feels like a console, and will run Windows or SteamOS later this year.

Maingear called attention to the powerful hardware, 4K graphics and sleek design in its announcement. Windows fans can pre-order the device right now for $949 (at minimum). Those who would rather use Valve's SteamOS will have to wait until November and dish out at least $849.

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The Drift runs on an Intel Core i7-470K processor, and gamers can choose between an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 or an AMD Radeon R9 290X for the graphics card. The upgradeable metal chassis supports up to 16GB RAM, two 1TB SSDs and a 6TB hard drive (these will all drive the price up considerably). As a nice finishing touch, users can choose any color for the case.

Whether consumers choose the Windows or SteamOS edition of the system (they can also get it without an OS and install whatever they choose), the Drift is all about playing games on Steam. The Windows version boasts the ability to boot directly into Steam's Big Picture mode, which optimizes games to play on a living room setup with either a controller or wireless mouse and keyboard. The SteamOS version will run Steam all the time by default.

Since the system costs, at minimum, more than twice as much as a traditional game console, the Drift is definitely at the higher end of the Steam box spectrum. However, for gamers who want to access the widest variety of games without building their own systems, it might be worth looking into. Given how frequently and significantly Steam discounts games, you could make up the cost within a year or two.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.