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The "Steam Box" era begins with the Piston, a $1,000 PC-in-a-console


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Xi3 taking preorders for tiny mid-range Linux gaming box for the living room.

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The gaming PC's next big push for living room supremacy has officially begun. Specialist hardware maker Xi3 has started taking preorders for the Piston, a $1,000 computer in a console form factor designed for HDTVs and planned for release during the 2013 holiday season.

The Piston was first showed off in January at CES, where it won a number of design awards. That's also when Valve announced that it was officially partnering with Xi3 on the Piston, calling it one of many third-party prototypes for its long-planned "Steam Box" living room PC architecture. This is not to be confused with Valve's own Steam Box hardware development efforts, which should result in a prototype in the next few months.

As far as horsepower, the Linux-based Piston isn't going to come close to replacing your fully decked-out gaming rig. The x86-based system will sport an integrated AMD chip with a 3.2Ghz quad-core processing unit and a 7000-series Radeon GPU sporting 384 programmable cores. The unit comes with support for up to three monitors, including one HDMI output, along with whopping 12 I/O ports, including eight USB slots.

That should support OK-but-not-great gaming performance for today's titles, which is understandable considering the price and a palm-sized form factor that only draws 40 watts from an outlet. That said, $1,000 isn't likely to be price-competitive with upcoming dedicated consoles from the likes of Sony and Microsoft. On the plus side, Xi3 promises that the Piston sports a modular, pop-out motherboard for easy upgrades, so it will be able to keep up with new advances more easily than other consoles.

We can see the Piston serving as a decent, no-nonsense entry into the world of PC gaming for curious console gamers, or a relatively cheap secondary machine for serious PC gamers who want to expand to the living room. The risk, of course, is that this combination of price and power will fall into some kind of jack-of-all-trades middle ground that doesn't really appeal to anybody. We're looking with interest to see if Valve itself will be able to improve on the price-to-power ratio with its own Steam Box hardware.


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So after PS4, we have another x86 'console'? Oh! Well ;)

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So after PS4, we have another x86 'console'? Oh! Well ;)

This was probably being made before Sony announced that they will make x86 one.

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So after PS4, we have another x86 'console'? Oh! Well ;)

This was probably being made before Sony announced that they will make x86 one.

Yeah, just a tad ironic, that's all - what with all the talk 'bout the 'death of PC gaming' and all, LOL! Gives further credence to that old saying - 'The more things change, the more they remain the same' :)

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PC-in-a-console is a crappy idea and $1000 is too expensive.

we already have consoles and pc's so why do we need some expensive Frankenstein hybrid ?

I think this has fail written all over it..

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PC-in-a-console is a crappy idea and $1000 is too expensive.

we already have consoles and pc's so why do we need some expensive Frankenstein hybrid ?

I think this has fail written all over it..

I disagree. This is PC for players with TV. Consider it a custom made PC for gaming, targeting console players.

But, $1000 is waaay too expensive.

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