Xi3 “PISTON” Steam Box: $999 Pre-Order, Hardware Speculation Galore

UPDATE: Valve’s Doug Lombardi to Eurogamer: We have nothing to do with the Xi3 Piston. Full story here.

Remember the Xi3 Piston we scoped out during CES? Well, the Steam Box is back with a vengeance pre-order link.

Xi3 is now taking pre-orders for the Piston Console, a custom-made mini gaming PC commissioned by Valve. The Piston is part of the new Steam Box rollout, as Xi3 and other presumed third-party hardware vendors will sell purpose-built Steam PCs alongside hardware designed by Valve itself. The Piston will start at $999, but there’s a $100 off SXSW special happening now (it was supposed to end yesterday, but the special $899 price is still listed).

The Piston’s design is the same as Xi3′s other Small Form-Factor (SFF) models, the X5a and X7a: a small metal cube with concave sides and metal grills on either end, along with a plethora of ports on the back. While the Piston doesn’t look any different from the shell we saw at CES (pictured below), many of the internal components have yet to be officially confirmed. Xi3 will be using its standard mini-board design, and there will be a sizable SSD on board – 128 GB and up – along with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. The CPU and GPU options are not officially confirmed yet, although there’s plenty of evidence to go on.

The Piston will ship with a “3.2Ghz Quad Core” solution…which sounds a bit mysterious. However, the X7A PC ships with a “3.2GHz quad-core x86-based APU” which has a  ”Radeon 7000 series GPU w/384 programmable cores.” Since AMD is the lone APU manufacturer (or rather, the only company to use the term “APU”) it seems like the X7A and the Piston will be using the same APU — that’s speculation, of course.

Assuming that the X7A (pictured above) and the Piston use the same APU, the lack of matchup between some of the hardware specs is keeping us from confirming anything specific. While AMD makes an APU that runs at 3.2 GHz – the A8-5500 – the Radeon HD 7560D GPU housed within lacks the 384 GPU cores touted by the X7A product page (it only has 256 cores). However, AMD also makes the A10-5700, and its 7660D graphics part, a bump up from the 7560D, has those 384 cores. It does run at a different frequency, however: 3.4 GHz.

My best guess – and with no confirmation from Xi3 yet, it’s a guess – is that Xi3 is using an underclocked A10-5700 in the Piston. Shaving off 200 MHz saves a bit on power and heat, which is crucial for such a small PC, and you get about as much power as one could reasonably expect from such a small device. Since the A10-5700 is a 65W chip, there won’t be any burned or melted TV stands, either.

If you’re interested in APU specificiations, you can find all of the aforementioned AMD A-Series APU specs here.

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3 Comments on Xi3 “PISTON” Steam Box: $999 Pre-Order, Hardware Speculation Galore


On March 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I thought the point of this was easy adaptability?

Replacing a CPU, to those who have never installed or changed one, is scary as hell because of how fragile you learn it really is. id take a slightly bigger system if it offered me the choice of buying an newer GPU.

Fuzzy Otter

On March 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

i suppose this is trying to hit in between PC and Console.. i hope they find their customers… because the people i know either want cheaper convenience and buy a console… or drop $1500+ on a custom PC.


On March 14, 2013 at 6:23 am

PC (newegg)
$359. ZOTAC ZT-60301-10P GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
$214 Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I53570K
$109 ram G.SKILL Sniper Gaming Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-1866C10D-16GSR
$134 ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
$59 CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 500W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
$69 LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-ray Burner, Bare Drive, 3D Play Back (WH14NS40) – OEM
$69 OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD3-2VTX120G 3.5″ 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
$59 Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

= $1072

Internal 128GB SSD
3.2Ghz Quad Core (R464)
vga (¿Radeon HD 7560D GPU?)
= $999

piston guys are crazy