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Valve-Funded Living Room PC Is A Box Built For Steam...

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Big Picture Mode, PC, Steam, Steam Box, Valve, Xi3

Valve-Funded Living Room PC Is A Box Built For Steam...

A Steam Box?

Xi3 are to reveal a new living room PC at CEX this week: a grapefruit-sized cube designed specifically for use with Steam's Big Picture Mode.

That's funded by a substantial investment from Valve.

So... is this the prodigal Steam Box, then? More details below.

Described as a "a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors," this new PC is roughly the same size as the Ouya but built around Steam's Big Picture Mode. Xi3 publicity officer David Politis told Polygon that specs will likely be in line with their X7 series hardware line that was unsuccessfully Kickstarted last year, which suggests that a a Quad-Core 64-bit, x86-based processor running at up to 3.2GHz, integrated with up to 384 graphics shader cores, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 16GB-1TB of solid-state storage, dual monitor support, 6 USB 2.0 ports and 2 eSATAp ports might be a reasonable benchmark. Despite the small form factor, it will be designed to allow for easy upgrades.

The project doesn't currently have a commercial identity beyond a working title - Piston - which is suggestive in and of itself. Since Valve have invested heavily in the company, many pundits are wondering whether this could be Valve's first major foray into the hardware market. The fact that the X7 range runs on Linux adds credence to the idea, as Valve are currently heavily invested in the OS and are reportedly interested in its lower licensing costs compared to Windows.

Whether this is the rumoured Steam Box, a prototype or merely a Steam Box remains to be seen. More as it comes in.

Add a comment15 comments
DivideByZero  Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:03

I really want to support this as I do fully support the idea... but having already got 2 gaming PCs that would best this hands down I don't know if I will end up getting one.

When you see so many other boxes like this coming out and loitering in the Kickstarter arena, I would love something from Valve to come out and do well.

MattGardner  Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:17

/0 Returns! We missed you.

musicrabbie  Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:48

Isn't a grapefruit round?

And, seriously, crap CPU, low memory, low storage, no mention of GPU. Might be fine for running Big Picture but for gamesplaying - you're having a laugh.

Last edited by musicrabbie, Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:51
JonLester  Jan. 8, 2013 at 13:02

@musicrabbie: Actually, the original posted specs were for the entry-level option - the X7A model has much more powerful hardware. I've updated the article, thanks.

Last edited by JonLester, Jan. 8, 2013 at 13:04
DivideByZero  Jan. 8, 2013 at 14:31

Thanks Matt... Happy New Year and all that! :)

Worrying about the hardware is not as much of an issue as it would have been 5 years ago. Back then, games would come out that would not be able to run on current generation top hardware at max settings... now though, you can run max on most games on most systems. TVs generally only run at 60hz/fps as well, so it's not like you need to push things to hard.

A GTX 570 (in my 2nd PC) can run pretty much everything I throw at it at 120FPS @ 1080 without slowdowns... so now is a good time to look at this sort of box. Especially with the age of the PS3 and 360.

But yeah, for me, pointless looking at this as it would not be up to spec compared to my PCs, which I can already run on my TV.

Late  Jan. 8, 2013 at 14:48

Sounds great to me. I don't really do pc gaming, as I'm bewildered by the specs. I'm sure it's pretty easy once you know, but I've no idea what processors, graphics cards, etc I've got - and if I did know those and I looked at a game to see whether I beat recommended spec I wouldn't have a clue whether my processor's better or worse than the ones quoted.

Equally, I don't have a steam account (so know little about it other than it's a service allowing you to download games and/or keys).

As a result I stick to console and android. Pick up an xbox360 game and you know it'll work in your xbox360. Visit google play on your android device and it'll tell you whether the game you're looking at is compatible (or more commonly, you just won't see a game if it's not compatible).

If Valve can bring something similar to the mass market then I'm definitely interested. I appreciate the machine can be upgraded, but if it's kept relatively simple and if the marketplace lets you know what you can and can't play then I'd love to play pc games on my tv.

DivideByZero  Jan. 8, 2013 at 15:31

Visit google play on your android device and it'll tell you whether the game you're looking at is compatible (or more commonly, you just won't see a game if it's not compatible).

If Valve can bring something similar to the mass market then I'm definitely interested.


I am surprised that this doesn't happen on PC already. It's really easy to enquire what hardware your PC has and Steam actually does this with their audit / survey already. They also publish the minimum spec of games so you could make this happen very easily.

Very doable with this box too I am sure.

Ilium  Jan. 8, 2013 at 15:35

Is there really a huge demand for super convenient living room PCs?

They'd have to be more super convenient than the current crop of consoles which, as Late pointed out, might be tricky. Just seems to be quite a niche thing. Surely what we really need is the same level of convenience, but with better gatekeepers and more open digital platforms.

Late  Jan. 8, 2013 at 16:18

I see a steambox as a true rival to ps4 and nextbox. If it's similarly specced (is that a word?) and priced then it's a serious contender - and demand would be there.
PC gamers are constantly tweaking their machines. Console gamers haven't really done anything in the last seven years or so other than send machines off for repairs or upgrade hard drives - and most are ready for a new machine.

It doesn't have to be more convenient than traditional consoles. If it's relatively simple to get to grips with, but has the facility to upgrade 2 or 3 components through 2 or 3 different steps then it's still simple enough that it won't scare many folk off, whilst giving a lot more flexibility than console gamers are used to.
I think something like that would stand a decent chance of stealing away a large chunk of the people looking to upgrade consoles in the next year or two.

Would of course depend on a lot of other factors, of course (price and spec mentioned already, but also software support, controllers, online infrastructure, and non-gaming applications) - but none of those factors should really present a stumbling block to Valve, I'd imagine.

JonLester  Jan. 8, 2013 at 17:28

If a small form factor PC booted straight into Big Picture Mode then it'd be just as convenient as any console out there (right up until you realise that you need new drivers etc). But consoles themselves are continually becoming less convenient to use with multiple accounts to sign into, online passes, lack of backwards compatibility etc - and the fit, lean PC market could be well poised to take advantage.

Just thinking out loud, really.

musicrabbie  Jan. 8, 2013 at 17:43

"Worrying about the hardware is not as much of an issue as it would have been 5 years ago. "

Strange one this. Is Moore's law wrong?

hippidyhip  Jan. 8, 2013 at 21:51

"Worrying about the hardware is not as much of an issue as it would have been 5 years ago. "

Strange one this. Is Moore's law wrong?


I think it's more likely that games are becoming less demanding as most are ports from 7 year old consoles.

Last edited by hippidyhip, Jan. 8, 2013 at 21:52
montyburns56  Jan. 9, 2013 at 18:53

Visit google play on your android device and it'll tell you whether the game you're looking at is compatible (or more commonly, you just won't see a game if it's not compatible).

If Valve can bring something similar to the mass market then I'm definitely interested.


I am surprised that this doesn't happen on PC already. It's really easy to enquire what hardware your PC has and Steam actually does this with their audit / survey already. They also publish the minimum spec of games so you could make this happen very easily.

Very doable with this box too I am sure.


It does already happen, just go to the Can I Run It website and it will tell you whether or not you can run any game on your PC.

http://www.systemrequirementslab.com/cyri

Last edited by montyburns56, Jan. 9, 2013 at 18:54
DivideByZero  Jan. 10, 2013 at 15:13

Nice link montyburns56 :)

No use for me... the answer if I went to that page from my work laptop would just be a big flashing no. From my home PCs it would be a picture of a bear taking a dump in the woods.

musicrabbie, crikey, we talk about that at work all the time and I have never really considered it for gaming. While the hardware is getting faster and more efficient in accordance with Moore's law, the games are not really getting more demanding. A lot of work has been done with optimisation to make games look good with little processing - which can only be a good thing.

If I was less lazy, it would be nice to calculate the spec of hardware over time in a chart against the required hardware to run AAA top titles over time... however, I am only enough of a geek to contemplate that, but not actually do it.

musicrabbie  Jan. 10, 2013 at 17:42

...If I was less lazy, it would be nice to calculate the spec of hardware over time in a chart against the required hardware to run AAA top titles over time... however, I am only enough of a geek to contemplate that, but not actually do it.
Sounds like a good Friday afternoon job;might have a look

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