We've been hearing about the potential of the Steam Machine, a console-like computer system for PC gaming, for the past several years, but now we actually have a release date for the first of these systems shipping out to consumers.

Today, Dell's Alienware and CyberPower announced that their versions of the Steam Machine will ship to some customers as early as October this year, with the units hitting retail shelves in November.

Dell and CyberPower, of course, aren't the only companies making Steam Machines, and it's likely other companies will announce release dates for their versions of the system soon.

The Steam Machines work like this: they all run SteamOS, which is a Linux-based version of Steam gaming's interface. This does mean that only games that offer Linux versions will work natively on the system, but never fear: players with a Steam Machine can play any Steam game for Windows and Mac, too, by streaming the game from a Windows or Mac computer. Once the system launches, Valve, the company responsible for Steam, hopes to have at least 1,000 games ready to play.

The idea behind the Steam Machine is to introduce PC gaming to an entirely new market: maybe those who haven't been able to play many Steam games due to a lack of the proper computer specs or those who feel intimidated by PC gaming. The system works much like a console, but has the specs to run Steam games without a need for upgrading the system (although many of the Steam Machines' parts are, in fact, upgradeable).

So how much does a Steam Machine cost? At first, expect to pay more than you would for an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. The first machines will retail for around $450 to $750, with controllers running around $50 and SteamLink, a device that lets you connect your Steam Machine wirelessly to your TV also around $50.

However, those prices gets you power that even the next-generation consoles don't currently have. Steam Machines perform like PCs, which, in spite of our preferences, can handle a lot more than an Xbox One and PS4.

"We have collaborated for years with Valve and GameStop to develop a platform with the best content, the best performance, and the best value compared to anything else on the market," says Frank Azor, Dell's general manager. "Finally, with this preorder, we have a chance to address the building anticipation for the latest and greatest gaming system."

If you're willing to plop down money on the Alienware or CyberPower version of the system, you can pre-order it in June, with some customers receiving the Steam Machine in October. However, the system officially goes on sale in November.

Photo Credit: Alienware

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