After being announced what feels like forever ago the Steam hardware has finally arrived, although in limited fashion. So far it is only available in the US, Canada and Europe with the rest following shortly.

If you are simply looking for specifics head over to the new Steam Hardware section, otherwise read on and I'll give you a brief rundown of the prices and what to expect from each of the offers.

First and foremost we have the Steam Controller.

Price wise you're looking at €54.99/$49.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD for the Controller, without shipping. You can find out the full price by simply putting it in your cart.

I don't own the controller but I did get a chance to play around with it for a short time. I've used a Logitech F310 for a few years now so my first use of the Steam Controller was a bit awkward, the shape really didn't fit me initially but I grew used to it over the course of my brief time with it.

Perhaps "you'll get used to it" is the best way to describe the controller. Its clunky and finicky at first but once you set it up, download or make your own profile for the game you're playing and finally get comfortable its a decent replacement for a keyboard & mouse aimed at people that want to play PC games from the comfort of their couch.

I think if you're the type of person that would enjoy the Steam Controller you already know you want one but for the rest, if you're interested in buying it, think first about what you would actually use it for? If its the same things you can comfortably use a mouse & keyboard for, you might as well save some money and wait for future iterations which will undoubtedly be better. Either way, its not a bad piece of hardware, it just has a bit of a learning curve to it.

It sure does look alien

 Next up we have the Steam Link, my personal favorite out of the bunch.

The price is exactly the same as the controller's, so €54.99/$49.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD without shipping.

The Link is a simple thing with a simple job. Its there to give you the ability to stream games from your PC to the TV with the bare minimum of set-up required. All you have to do is plug it in to the TV, connect it to your home network and it'll do the rest on its own.

So if you're the type of person that has their main PC far away from the TV but still wants to game on it you can consider the Link as one of your solutions. There are many of these streaming boxes on the market already, with some of them being cheaper, others more expensive and feature rich but at the end of the day if your main interest is gaming the Link is probably going to be your best bet due to the support from Valve.

Simple and functional

And finally the Steam Machines, Valve's own challenge to both Windows gaming as well as consoles.

The Steam Machines, once they finally officially release, will offer you a choice between many different models which differ in price, performance, hard disk size and features like that.

The price of these things? Well, this is where the Steam Machines fall apart for me. The cheapest (and least powerful) model you can get will set you back an expected $450, which is frankly just a huge amount of money for a piece of hardware that will age out relatively quickly.

I'm really not sure who these things are for, the Link and the controller I can easily recommend to different demographics, but the Machines? They are too expensive to entice console gamers to switch to the light side, the Linux OS means that some popular games will simply be unplayable so I can't recommend it to casual PC gamers and the hardcore PC crowd already knows they can build their own mid-ranged PC for around $500-600 which will last far longer than the Steam Machines.

There is however one very big benefit Steam Machines have over standard PCs and that is their uniform build for each model. Games can be optimized to squeeze out every last drop of performance from the Steam Machines without causing issues because the developers will always know what they are working with. Imagine loading up a game and instead of a fiddling with a massive amount of settings you just choose "Optimized for Steam Machine Alpha", that would be pretty awesome.

While I personally don't see a reason to own one don't let my words stop you. If all you want is a small, quiet box that sits under your TV and plays your Steam games, and you don't mind paying a premium for it, by all means go ahead. Having Valve behind the whole operation means the product will at the very least be a quality one so maybe the piece of mind is worth the price.

Pretty, but at a price

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