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Start Your Steam Engines: Xi3's Piston To Cost $1000

A $998 hat with a $1 PC thrown in for good measure? Hot dog! What a steal!

Is Xi3’s Piston a Steam Box? Isn’t it? That’s a bit unclear right now. While Xi3 is specifically avoiding using that label, it points out that SteamOS will run on any living room machine. Thusly: “SteamOS should be able to run on Piston Consoles (PCs) as well, but we’ll have to wait until SteamOS is available to confirm this.” So, with that all (sorta) cleared up, how’s the ol’ outer space grapefruit looking? Well, the short version is “decently potent,” but all that computational mecha-muscle comes at a fairly hefty price. When the tiny marvel launches in November, it’ll run you $999. And that’s just the entry level model.

Here are the specs, straight from Xi3’s significantly-larger-than-the-machine-it’s-advertising announcement page:

“Gaming supremacy starts with a powerful system, and Xi3’s PISTON Console comes packed with a 3.2 GHz AMD Trinity Processor, Radeon 7000-Series GPU, and 8GB DDR3 Gaming RAM. Never lag behind gaming standards with the only console that’s also an upgradeable Modular Computer that keeps up with the latest technology in the industry.”

Among other things, you’ll be able to switch out a base 128 GB SSD for two 512 GB SSDs. As far as the mini-PC’s modularity goes, however, that’s apparently just the beginning. New I/O boards will also be available “as technology advances.” Into the future. Presumably, jetpacks will one day be powered by Xi3 Pistons, and their graphics will be so much better than all the other jetpacks.

The machine’s launching on November 29th for $999, which is at least a couple hundred more than it’d cost to build a regular PC up to the same specs. As evidenced by the above image, there is also a hat for some reason. Maybe it’s a really, really nice hat?

Seriously though, do you think compact form factor is worth a rather un-compact price tag? Moreover, I doubt this sort of piggybank buster will fly with console crowds, but I imagine official Steam Boxes will need to be decently high-spec in order to run triple-A games with any semblance of consistency. That strikes me as quite a conundrum unless companies like Valve are willing to take a big hit on early hardware sales. Or am I missing something? Do super tiny PC parts really cost as much as Xi3 is implicitly suggesting? I mean, I imagine it’s raised the price a bit because it sort of, you know, has to turn a profit, but can early Steam Boxes hit price points much lower than this?

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Nathan Grayson

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