Origin PC Chronos
Best for raw, unadulterated, screen-melting power
The impossible-to-miss glowing logos on Origin’s big black box make no effort to hide what OS it’s running. The Chronos is just about small enough to slide into the average lounge TV rack, though this is likely to end in divorce. Or at least a night on the couch (which, incidentally, you can carry on gaming from).
If you'd prefer your Steam Machine to look less like a PC and more like a console, then it's probably not the best choice for you. Unless of course, you want pure, uninhibited power. Speaking of which...
More after the break...
Under the hood
The Chronos has not one, but two Nvidia GTX Titans in charge of pushing pixels to your eyeballs. That's two of the world's most powerful consumer graphics cards, working together to tickle the part of your brain responsible for embracing ultra-sharp graphics, zero lag and smooth gameplay.
In other words, it'll smash through any games you care to throw at it with ease, even at 4K resolutions.
Dual-boot upgrade options will let you swap between Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS, Windows 7 or Windows 8, and you can have up to 14TB of storage. Yes. terabytes.
It's also got easy-access hot-swappable SSDs for shifting around extra storage and there's enough gaming muscle packed inside it to power a small country. Which is why a fully-specced model will set you back the price of a small car.
You prefer cycling anyway, don't you?
A closer look
The Chronos has a closed loop liquid cooling system as opposed to a more common fan-cooled CPU heatsink to keep its processor running at reasonable temperatures while ensuring that noise is minimal.
Being a closed loop system, it should require zero maintenance too. Custom loops, on the other hand, have problems with air getting into the system and carry the risk of leaking. They take longer to set up, but can perform better and you can customise how they look.
Given that quite a few of the Steam Machines have liquid cooling, it looks like Valve has placed a particular emphasis on quieter systems for living room use.
The Chronos also has a ludicrously quick front-loading SSD swapping system which lets you slide out storage drives with a simple click.