Nine months ago, Valve firmly denied having a Steam Box in the works, but hope was revived at CES 2013 when Xi3 showcased a Steam-based modular computer.
Two of Xi3‘s modular computer were featured on Kickstarter less than four months ago. Upon failing to raise the funds necessary for mass producing its micro-desktop PCs, Xi3 reconsidered its direction and partnered with Valve. Either that, or Valve saw the potential of Xi3’s modular PCs and decided they had the shape and features it always wanted for its Steam Box. Anyway, I’d congratulate whoever is in charge of strategic partnerships at Xi3, as this company has just hit a gold mine.
Upon lifting the veil off the new Steam Box, codenamed Piston, Jason A. Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3, stated: “Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3. This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand.”
Xi3 representatives found at the company’s CES booth refused to give away details about the Steam Box. Fortunately, Xi3 Chief Marketing Officer David Politis, revealed that Piston is based on the company’s previous modular computer known as X7A. Given that the X7A’s cost started from $999, we know what price tag to expect for the Steam Box.
In case you are not familiar with the specs of Xi3’s X7A modular computer (pictured above), you should know that it came with an up to 3.2 Ghz quad-core 64-bit, x86-based 32nm CPU, coupled with up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, an SSD with a capacity of 64GB to 1TB, a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, four eSATA/USB 3.0/2.0 ports and outputs for 3 hi-def monitors (two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port). In addition, the X7A modular computer also packed 1/8″ audio in/out and SPDIF optical audio.
There is not much known about the Piston’s graphics card, but other than that, the above specs are pretty impressive. No game featured on Steam at the moment or in the near future should pose any threats to such a configuration. The only problem would be the price, but that will be disclosed once Xi3 and Valve decide to mass produce the long-awaited Steam Box.