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Xi3 Piston 'Steam Box' Out This Year, Costs $1000

Jonathan Lester
PC, Piston, Steam Box, Xi3

Xi3 Piston 'Steam Box' Out This Year, Costs 00

New Trailer Promises "More Than Just A Console"

The Xi3 Piston, a modular small form factor PC designed around Steam's Big Picture Mode interface, will release this Christmas. The lowest-spec model starts at just under $1000, with pre-orders now open.

If you remember, this was our first peek at a third-party 'Steam Box,' which will almost certainly release before Valve's official foray into the living room. We've got a trailer and more details below.

“Given the amount of awards, media attention and gamer interest the PISTON Console has generated since it was unveiled at CES 2013 in January, we’ve become seriously concerned that we will not be able to meet the demand for PISTON Consoles this year,” said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3 Corporation. “That’s why we have decided to begin accepting pre-orders on our PISTON Console, beginning today with the start of the SXSW Gaming Expo. Gaming Expo attendees will also get the benefit of being the first to see the PISTON Console in action.”

“Clearly, the computer/video gaming market is huge, both in the personal computer and traditional console markets,” Sullivan added. “That being said, we believe there is a crying need for a machine that captures the best of both worlds, with the upgradeability of computer gaming rigs and the design and form factor of consoles. We believe our PISTON Consoles do exactly that—deliver the beauty and small size of consoles with the upgradeability of computers.”

In terms of specifications, the US pre-order page promises the following (along with a $100 pre-order discount):

  • Primary Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Hard Drive Standard- Internal 128GB SSD
  • 8GB RAM
  • 3.2Ghz Quad Core (R464)
  • Radeon 7000 Series GPU

More details will be forthcoming, but this is a lot of grunt for such a tiny device, and fairly decent value for the price considering its size and competition such as the much dearer AlienWare X51.

Are you tempted by the idea of picking up a third-party Steam Box, or would you be more inclined to wait until Valve's first-party offering (which may be priced at around $300 for a mid-tier model if Gabe is to be believed)? Or a PS4? Let us know in the comments.

Add a comment3 comments
Late  Mar. 11, 2013 at 14:52

Are they saying their lowest spec model is a lot better than Steam's own lowest spec model will be? If Valve are doing a machine for £300 surely it can't have similar components to those?
Either way, whilst I appreciate there's some expensive components in the Xi3, if I'm to take a gamble on a steambox it'll need to be substantially cheaper than the quoted $1000.

If we can get a core machine on the market for less than £300, though, and have steam/bigpicture working well, then I'm definitely interested.
(Ideally, if my steambox can't run a game then it either shouldn't show in the shop on my machine or it should be highlighted as incompatible/unlikely to run. Equally, if it'll run but on low settings, and would be better if I upgraded part of my machine I need to know that when I'm browsing the shop. And if I upgrade part of my machine I need to know which games (owned, or otherwise) will run better or become available when I do so.)

If they get the infrastructure right then Steambox could be massive. If it becomes complicated because there's lots of different standards of machine and the average Joe (or Late) isn't sure which model to get or what will run on it then I think they're going to miss out on a massive market.

As for the Piston - I'm not sure what market they're targeting.
Established pc gamers? I'd imagine that if you're big on pc gaming you'll probably already have a machine for your front room - and could think of better ways of investing your $1k.
Console gamers? If you're trying to entice people to try this instead of a console you need your machine to be comparable in price to a console.

JonLester  Mar. 11, 2013 at 15:23

Newell reckons that a mid-range Steam Box could weigh in at around $300 - so I assume that it will probably feature much less traditional PC functionality than the Xi3, presumably with lower specs. Unless Valve are willing to absorb manufacturing costs to lower the RRP, that is (they've got the money and the marketplace already in place).

The Xi3 is actually very impressive for the price, specs-wise, especially when you consider that it's small enough to hold in one hand.

Last edited by JonLester, Mar. 11, 2013 at 15:32
Teppic2000  Mar. 11, 2013 at 19:25

It'll certainly be interesting to see where Valve and it's partners take the concept of Steambox.

While I put together my own builds I can certainly see it stealing the market from under the gaming PC fabricators such as Alienware (assuming they don't get in on the action).

Also the cheaper Steambox's could be very attractive upgrade to those who only play World of Warcraft and/or don't really care that much about what's under the hood.

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