Valve CEO Gabe Newell and the Steam Box look like they are about to be beaten to the punch for living room supremacy by hardware maker Xi3. Xi3 is now taking preorders for the Piston, a $1,000 PC-in-a-console, and it is scheduled to hit shelves by the holiday season of 2013. The Piston was one of the many gadgets unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Newell and Valve, despite their reputation in the gaming industry for being noncommittal with their release dates, said that the Steam Box should be ready for testing in three to four months.
The Linux-based Piston isn’t going to replace a gaming rig with all the latest and greatest parts, though. The x86-based system will have an integrated AMD chip with a 3.2 GHz quad-core processing unit, and a 7000-series Radeon GPU sporting 384 programmable cores. The Piston will come with support for up to three monitors, including one HDMI output, along with whopping 12 I/O ports, eight of which are USB slots. For those preordering the console, you can select the size of the solid-state drive, but upgrading from the base 128 GB to a 512 GB will stack on USD$750 to the price. Users will also be able to install other operating systems on the Piston. “Piston will ship standard with Windows, though users are able to install other operating systems on the device, like any PC,” said David Politis, Xi3’s Chief Marketing Officer. That means those who prefer Linux can swap Windows for Linux, although only 81 Linux games are available for the Steam for Linux client, as opposed to the hundreds (if not thousands) of games for Windows.
You won’t get the best performance from the Piston, not only because of its middling specs, but also because it will draw only 40 watts from an outlet. The USD$1,000 won’t be too appealing to console gamers either, namely because Sony’s PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox will have lower price points. One of the advantages to owning the Piston, however, is that you can apply upgrades easily, such as swapping RAM, the motherboard, and even the AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) itself. This will enable the Piston to stay one step ahead of its console counterparts as games become more and more complex.
The Piston will make use of Steam’s Big Picture mode to bring PC gaming to TV screens. Those who preorder now can get USD$100 off.
Source: CNET Asia