Posted on January 8, 2013, Devin Connors CES 2013: Xi3 is Building PC Hardware for Valve
UPDATE: The Xi3 hardware isn’t actually the Steam Box. Original story follows.
Just after we claimed the “Steam Box” was floating around in the ether…it might have reared its beautiful, compact head at CES 2013. Xi3, a computer builder based in Salt Lake City, has been contracted by Valve to build computer hardware.
Valve decided to make “a substantial investment” in Xi3 (exact figures have not been disclosed), and the end result is a modular small form factor PC designed with Steam’s Big Picture Mode in mind.
This Steam PC will be based on an existing Xi3 product: The 7 Series Modular Computer. The non-Valve version is a 4.3″ x 3.7″ PC, based on an AMD APU platform. The system uses about 40W of power under full load, and packs a fantastic amount of I/O for such a small machine — 4 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0, 4 eSATA, audio, Ethernet, DisplayPort/HDMI, and two Mini DisplayPort (for the Eyefinity lovers in the crowd).
The details on the Valve deal are still few and far between, but the end result will be a tweaked version of the 7 Series PC. For now, the 7 Series tops out with a AMD Trinity APU, complete with a Radeon HD 7660G graphics chip. The 7660G sits on the low side of AMD’s mid-range offerings, so an upgrade might be in order for the Steam Box. Valve likely chose X3i’s system due to its very upgrade-friendly design, as the internal hardware is housed on three boards: one with the APU and memory, another with the I/O, storage and south bridge, and a third with the power supply and video outputs. In other words, you’ll be able to upgrade the CPU/GPU without reworking the entire system, or grab an I/O board with Thunderbolt without changing the PSU or APU. That might be old hat for desktop PC enthusiasts, but it’s undiscovered territory in such a small form factor.
Game Front was on-site at CES 2013 (January 8-11), covering all the latest gaming gadgets. Check out all of our CES 2013 news, previews and features.