Update: Xi3 Opens "Piston" Steam Box Pre-Orders

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Absolutionis:

The Plunk:
It may be pricey, but it's also the SIZE OF A GODDAMN GRAPEFRUIT.

This is probably the most portable gaming machine outside of handhelds and smartphones. Probably a lot more powerful too. If the specs are as good (or better) than a high-end gaming laptop, I can see this being well worth the money for people that travel a lot.

IT's also shaped like a grapefruit, which is odd for portability. You also have to lug around a monitor and keyboard AT LEAST.

You're better off getting a gaming laptop. It actually comes with a screen, it's flat and easy to carry in a bag, comes with mouse/keyboard/speakers, and can often be found for cheaper.

My thoughts were that you could plug it into a TV at a hotel, for example. Although, yes carrying a keyboard and mouse around with you would be a bit of a problem (unless you had one of those roll-up or laser keyboards, which would be sub-optimal for gaming).

The said specs are too lacking.
"4core processor at 3.2ghz" can be so many things. And the differences in performance depending on the processor architecture can be considerable.

Athlon2<APU<FXbulldozer<Core2=Phenom2<FXpilediver<CoreI5<CoreI7.

And the RAM is unified - shared 8gb but ddr3. The latest graphics cards use is GDDR5,while by the end of 2013 ddr4 memory will become available.

The "7xxx series" graphics card is also way too general information. There are models of the 7000 series ranging in quite a large spectrum of performance and prices.

7450 can't even get Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 to 30fps on 1280x720p with everything been on lowest detail,while 7990 can play Crysis 3 at 60fps on 2560x1440p on ultra settings.

Buyers who have any knowledge of PC specs and do a market research before they buy,will hardly consider buying a machine without knowing exactly what it is capable of. I only see people with lots of money who don't do any research on products before they buy and just got to a shop and saw this looking like a piece of fashion to consider buying it.

They should make the specs more detailed and concrete,so people know what they are being told to buy.

I don't understand what everyone had been expecting. This is a pretty impressive rig for its size (granted we don't know its GPU yet). Alienware's M14x sells for $999 and the poor thing comes with a pitiful 6GB of RAM, a GT650M (not amazing by any stretch of imagination) and a mechanical hard drive. If I were to choose between the two, I'd probably go with the piston.

Dexter111:
This isn't the "Steambox", stop being intentionally misleading.

Even the people involved literally couldn't say it after being pressured on it for a while:

Damn, whoever put that video together is really confused and they're not helping to clarify anything.

First, they show footage of the Xi3 Piston, THEN they show an entirely different unit, the X5A Modular Computer, which looks exactly like the Piston except it's their low-end PC (the blue one).

The X5A (model X5A-5342US) is blue by default and has Display Port/DVI video out.
The Piston is black and has a bizarre Display Port/HDMI combo with two extra mini Display Ports.


Even the website that user Dryk got his photo from incorrectly shows the cheaper, low-end Xi3 desktop model under the headline "Valve's own Steam Box prototype to start shipping by July". It's all very confusing.

There is a problem somewhere. It's impossible for a mechanical drive to be faster than an SSD.

http://s878.beta.photobucket.com/user/laughingman09/media/Image2-1_zps8b5c1f75.jpg.html

I beg to differ, blue line is a pair of mechanical Samsung F3s in Raid 0, red line is a single Vertex 3.0. The Samsungs are clearly faster. Okay I've had to Raid the drives but it is in fact possible for mechanical drives to be faster than an SSD.

As for the Piston, if this in fact the fore runner to Steams own 'console' then it looks like that MS exec was right when he said that Valve proved to be no threat in the console market.

I'm always glad to see devices like this, because it means in a year to 18 months, we'll have much cheaper options available. I have no interest in it at that price point, but if a company wants to manufacture luxury gaming devices and they have customers lined up to buy them, I think that's great. The amount of connections on the back is just crazy, too. That's a seriously dense piece of hardware.

I imagine the actual, official 'Steambox' will be no more than half this price, at most, and marketed to people who don't want to be bothered with the admittedly easy task of just hooking a laptop or MPC up to your TV to achieve the same effect.

Way too expensive. You pretty much HAVE to get the 512G one since the other sizes are way too small. 2 grand for a computer that isn't basically a small super computer? I'll pass.

Laughing Man:

There is a problem somewhere. It's impossible for a mechanical drive to be faster than an SSD.

http://s878.beta.photobucket.com/user/laughingman09/media/Image2-1_zps8b5c1f75.jpg.html

I beg to differ, blue line is a pair of mechanical Samsung F3s in Raid 0, red line is a single Vertex 3.0. The Samsungs are clearly faster. Okay I've had to Raid the drives but it is in fact possible for mechanical drives to be faster than an SSD.

IDK, but isn't 250something MB/s in sequential read a bit subpar for SSD?

IDK, but isn't 250something MB/s in sequential read a bit subpar for SSD?

It's a two year old Sata 2 model and it seems to have gotten a bit slower than it was over the years. When it was brand new it was just about able to outpace the Mechanical HDs but it's gotten a bit slower with age. My Mobo only has Sata 2 ports so no point in going for a faster drive I am holding out to see what the Asus Raidr brings to the party.

http://rog.asus.com/199862013/news/gallery-raidr-express-ssd/

Steven Bogos:

Evil Smurf:
I'm actually a fan of mechanical hard drives. The're cheaper and have larger storage. Like terabytes large.

The tradeoff is that SSD's are MUCH faster and much less likely to fail. The update to SSD is probably one of the best upgrades people can make. You only really need the drive that you have windows and your games on to be an SSD, mechanical drives are fine for files. I made the switch to SSD last year and I'll never look back. Windows loads in about 15 seconds and my games load in moments, making 'level loads' almost a thing of the past. It also speeds up your overall performance.

Ooo, I agree on performance, but I've had two pc drives manufactured by Samsung go phhhhhht! Suddenly and without warning.

I was never going to look back but I had to revive the old drive they replaced.
Depressing

mattaui:
if a company wants to manufacture luxury gaming devices and they have customers lined up to buy them

At that price point, I'm not sure that last bit will hold true.

mateushac:
I don't understand what everyone had been expecting. This is a pretty impressive rig for its size (granted we don't know its GPU yet). Alienware's M14x sells for $999 and the poor thing comes with a pitiful 6GB of RAM, a GT650M (not amazing by any stretch of imagination) and a mechanical hard drive. If I were to choose between the two, I'd probably go with the piston.

The M14x is a laptop. It's useable on its own. The Piston, on its own, is a paperweight. Its function is to be hooked up to a TV, a task for which size is almost always going to be irrelevant. Sure, it's more portable than a PS3 or whatever, but how big is the market of people who are hooking up their console of choice to a different TV every few days? And remember, if you don't also carry around a mouse and keyboard, it's still a paperweight.

Can someone tell me what the point of this was? Can't most modern computers be hooked up to a TV (assuming the TV has hi-def support) for use as a monitor? Why would someone need to buy a separate (and incredibly expensive) rig if they wanted to play Steam games on their TV? Also the tagline of "bridging the gap between PCs and Consoles" is kind of silly given that the original Xbox did exactly that in 2001. Heck, modern consoles are essentially gaming PCs with limited operating systems and no modularity.

Stavros Dimou:
The said specs are too lacking.
"4core processor at 3.2ghz" can be so many things.

Their website ( http://xi3.com/buy_now-piston.php ) clearly states "3.2Ghz Quad Core (R464)". The R464 is identical to the AMD A10-4600M.

Source: http://www.cpu-world.com/news_2012/2012052302_AMD_announced_embedded_R-Series_processors.html

It's not even a real Quad-core, but a 2-module "Trinity"-APU.

Austin Manning:
Can someone tell me what the point of this was? Can't most modern computers be hooked up to a TV (assuming the TV has hi-def support) for use as a monitor? Why would someone need to buy a separate (and incredibly expensive) rig if they wanted to play Steam games on their TV? Also the tagline of "bridging the gap between PCs and Consoles" is kind of silly given that the original Xbox did exactly that in 2001. Heck, modern consoles are essentially gaming PCs with limited operating systems and no modularity.

Unless the Xbox has some hidden ability to run PC games that nobody told me about, then no, it really didn't. I mean, sure, it's similar to a low-end PC hardware-wise, but that means nothing to the user.

The point of a competently-developed PC/console hybrid (i.e. definitely not the Piston) would be to combine the openness and power of a PC with the simplicity and price point of a console.

ClockworkUniverse:

Unless the Xbox has some hidden ability to run PC games that nobody told me about, then no, it really didn't. I mean, sure, it's similar to a low-end PC hardware-wise, but that means nothing to the user.

When the original Xbox first came out, that's what Microsoft was pitching it as, a then-modern gaming PC that could be plugged into your television. It's one of the reasons why so many PC/Mac titles (Halo, Morrowind) ended up on the Xbox.

ClockworkUniverse:

The point of a competently-developed PC/console hybrid (i.e. definitely not the Piston) would be to combine the openness and power of a PC with the simplicity and price point of a console.

It still strikes me as pointless though, as someone could buy a cheap PC, mod it and plug it into the TV. Or they could just buy a super gaming rig and plug that into their TV. The only way I could see a console/PC hybrid being made simpler (without stripping out modularity and becoming a console) is to redesign the internal components so that they can be easily swapped out for newer version (similar to a gaming cartridge).

ClockworkUniverse:
The M14x is a laptop. It's useable on its own. The Piston, on its own, is a paperweight. Its function is to be hooked up to a TV, a task for which size is almost always going to be irrelevant. Sure, it's more portable than a PS3 or whatever, but how big is the market of people who are hooking up their console of choice to a different TV every few days? And remember, if you don't also carry around a mouse and keyboard, it's still a paperweight.

Well, the idea of gaming on a laptop doesn't appeal very much to me (I hate the position of the keyboard relative to the screen)so I can definitely see what a portable desktop has to offer. Being able to bring my gaming along when visiting my family would be heaven!

Also, a keyboard and a mouse will easily fit a backpack or a suitcase, so it doesn't look like that much of a problem to me.

Yeah, if they stick an Nvidia Titan in that thing I'll consider it.

Laughing Man:

There is a problem somewhere. It's impossible for a mechanical drive to be faster than an SSD.

http://s878.beta.photobucket.com/user/laughingman09/media/Image2-1_zps8b5c1f75.jpg.html

I beg to differ, blue line is a pair of mechanical Samsung F3s in Raid 0, red line is a single Vertex 3.0. The Samsungs are clearly faster. Okay I've had to Raid the drives but it is in fact possible for mechanical drives to be faster than an SSD.

As for the Piston, if this in fact the fore runner to Steams own 'console' then it looks like that MS exec was right when he said that Valve proved to be no threat in the console market.

if you go for RAID, then you need to apply the same for the SSD(s).
Even if most people don't know what RAID actually is (apart from an MMO term, heh), don't just throw claims around.
also the problem that the given SSD is hella slow, too.

So basically it's a $500 PC that you're paying $1000 for.

"I CAN SET $500 ON FIRE? WHERE DO I SIGN UP GUYS?"

Austin Manning:
When the original Xbox first came out, that's what Microsoft was pitching it as, a then-modern gaming PC that could be plugged into your television. It's one of the reasons why so many PC/Mac titles (Halo, Morrowind) ended up on the Xbox.

Marketing doesn't make something so. The Xbox is very purely a game console. The focus on porting is a positive trait, but it doesn't make it a PC.

Austin Manning:
It still strikes me as pointless though, as someone could buy a cheap PC, mod it and plug it into the TV. Or they could just buy a super gaming rig and plug that into their TV. The only way I could see a console/PC hybrid being made simpler (without stripping out modularity and becoming a console) is to redesign the internal components so that they can be easily swapped out for newer version (similar to a gaming cartridge).

A lot of people don't want to put in the effort to learn how to mod a PC, or what to look for in a good PC. They just want to buy a thing and play games on it.

mateushac:
Well, the idea of gaming on a laptop doesn't appeal very much to me (I hate the position of the keyboard relative to the screen)so I can definitely see what a portable desktop has to offer. Being able to bring my gaming along when visiting my family would be heaven!

Also, a keyboard and a mouse will easily fit a backpack or a suitcase, so it doesn't look like that much of a problem to me.

That's fair. I'm sure this system is great for some people. I'm just not sure how big the "I want a portable PC, but not a laptop, and I don't mind lugging around a keyboard and mouse" market is.

ClockworkUniverse:

mateushac:
Well, the idea of gaming on a laptop doesn't appeal very much to me (I hate the position of the keyboard relative to the screen)so I can definitely see what a portable desktop has to offer. Being able to bring my gaming along when visiting my family would be heaven!

Also, a keyboard and a mouse will easily fit a backpack or a suitcase, so it doesn't look like that much of a problem to me.

That's fair. I'm sure this system is great for some people. I'm just not sure how big the "I want a portable PC, but not a laptop, and I don't mind lugging around a keyboard and mouse" market is.

Sure, the market for it is VERY niche, but my original comment was specifically about the pricing, which is pretty fair when compared to a laptop (and allowing for a little bit of overpricing due to the whole market pioneering thing)

EDIT: Also, it's not like carrying a mouse/keyboard is any more cumbersome than carrying a gaming laptop.

Steven Bogos:

MrPeanut:

Steven Bogos:

The tradeoff is that SSD's are MUCH faster and much less likely to fail. The update to SSD is probably one of the best upgrades people can make. You only really need the drive that you have windows and your games on to be an SSD, mechanical drives are fine for files. I made the switch to SSD last year and I'll never look back. Windows loads in about 15 seconds and my games load in moments, making 'level loads' almost a thing of the past. It also speeds up your overall performance.

Funny, I got an SSD, timed it in comparison to my mechanical drive.

Games are all the same, windows actually loads faster from a mechanical drive.

And I can assure you it was not a faulty drive :)

I'm not calling you a liar but I find this very hard to believe. Overwhelming evidence supports SSD's being considerably faster than mechanical drives. Even the best mechanical drive caps out at 120 MB/S while modest SSD's are around 300 MB/s. That's a huge difference. There is most likely some kind of fault somewhere in your system. There is no way your windows is loading faster on a mechanical drive than an SSD

I need mechanical hard drive. I have 5 terabytes of storage, it's nearly full.
SSD's are still pitifully small in size for my needs. When games are now 15 gigs or more, and you have a steam library of 400+ games SSD's are just too small, IMO.

Sounds like Apples pricing model for adding more space. Seriously I can buy a 512GB SSD for $300 and they want us to pay $750?!

jebbo:
Doesn't this kind of defeat the point of the accessible, cheap Steambox? I thought the whole ethos of the Steambox was to create something affordable that could compete with a console price point. By effectively being at least twice the price of what we can probably expect a PS4 to be for the lowest entry model then they've just shot themselves in the foot.

this isn't the valve steam box, the author is being very misleading to make the story more interesting, this is a form factor PC that's going to be utilizing the steam format, now does that just mean the big screen function or the whole kit i doesn't say.

and people in general need to get alot smarter about console costs. consoles are always sold at a loss the idea is they massively over charge per game bought to recoup that loss.

if i were to replicate my library on console my 2k high end gaming pc would be about 3-4k cheaper than a ps3/4

As to what the steambox or the range of products falling under the umbrella do or are no one knows yet we haven't seen one but i think its pretty unlikely they would go in competition of the current consoles, the loss leader console make it back on licences wont really work because steam box games will be 30 bucks more than the pc version.

i would expect valve to follow the same type of practice they always do my complete guess is something like buy the steambox for XXX and you get 100 games of your choice free. it fits their model accounts for their strength and would blow the competition out of the water price wise.

mateushac:
I don't understand what everyone had been expecting. This is a pretty impressive rig for its size (granted we don't know its GPU yet). Alienware's M14x sells for $999 and the poor thing comes with a pitiful 6GB of RAM, a GT650M (not amazing by any stretch of imagination) and a mechanical hard drive. If I were to choose between the two, I'd probably go with the piston.

Alienware is a poor comparson choice

like apple they overcharge and under preform in terms of performance. You are better off comparing it to a high end dell,because they are the same thing(Dell owns AW),it's just cheaper and less LED's.

OT:
The problem is
A. Most people who want a computer can get a better one for cheeper(build it or buy it)
B. People who want a console are not gona spend more then the TV they will hook this thing up to.
C. it has non of the side functionally(typeing program,printer, outer games,work,ecd) of a computer for all the cost

IMO this thing is gonna bomb hard unless they drop the price way down. At it's current price I just don't see a market for this.

The Plunk:
It may be pricey, but it's also the SIZE OF A GODDAMN GRAPEFRUIT.

This is probably the most portable gaming machine outside of handhelds and smartphones. Probably a lot more powerful too. If the specs are as good (or better) than a high-end gaming laptop, I can see this being well worth the money for people that travel a lot.

Probably the best point in favor of this thing. It's crazy portable. I could see a few people getting a lot of use out of something so small

This is a pretty ridiculous screwup on these guy's part. I mean, seriously, expecting people too shell out a thousand bucks before they've even told us what sort of GPU the thing has?. It could have an Nvidia 8600 in it for all we know. Besides that, the thing is just overpriced as it is, I understand wanting too make a novelty top range mini-computer but this is not the way in my opinion.

Honestly? If I was involved in Esports or needed a portable computer for LAN events and such then the Piston here is going to do it's job.

However the question really is how exactly in the market is it going to fit for consumers regardless of your hobby towards video games or not.

I can see it working but I'm just having a hard to envisioning what audience is meant to go out and buy this aside from people who need a computer to bring to LAN events to which you would still need the keyboard and mouse and monitor. But hey better than carrying a rig that weighs 30lbs or more.

Without more detailed specs I don't think we can draw any conclusions on value for money.

There is a PC graphics card on the market right now that costs $1000 all on its own.

mdqp:
You can pre-order it now... And yet not all of the specifications have been revealed? Isn't that a bit odd?

Yes it is. Mind you, some game developer allowed pre-orders on an unrevealed game recently, so go figure.

The Plunk:
It may be pricey, but it's also the SIZE OF A GODDAMN GRAPEFRUIT.

Exactly. The smaller you make a PC, the more expensive it gets.

Okay, so it's going to be about as expensive as a normal computer of the same specs. Erm... what was the point of this again?

I have 5.5 TB storage. My gaming partition is 300 GB and I really don't have a lot of stuff installed. Good luck gaming even with the 512 GB drive.

And 1000 for this... Really...

Crazie_Guy:
Okay, so it's going to be about as expensive as a normal computer of the same specs. Erm... what was the point of this again?

You were seriously expecting it to be smaller AND cheaper? Engineering isn't magic...

Evil Smurf:
I'm actually a fan of mechanical hard drives. The're cheaper and have larger storage. Like terabytes large.

They are also far more reliable than solid state drives. I'd take reliability, low cost, and more storage over an (marginal) improvement of data transfer speed any day.

I can buy a more powerful PC for less. I can also do a lot more with that 1k PC than this Steam Box. Case in point

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883227444 (It just might explode on you or be the wrong computer entirely, or be put together wrong, or anything else really, but shit, what do you want for 700 bucks?)

I do like the name though. It's powered by Steam and is called Piston, that's just perfect.

Ironman126:

Evil Smurf:
I'm actually a fan of mechanical hard drives. The're cheaper and have larger storage. Like terabytes large.

They are also far more reliable than solid state drives. I'd take reliability, low cost, and more storage over an (marginal) improvement of data transfer speed any day.

I think in this case it is the size of the object.
As SSD are smaller and if you are designing the SSD yourself, as there are no moving parts, you could make it fit diffidently on your mini computer.
Also Judging by the back of this thing they fully expect people to hook an external up to it.

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