Posted on March 11, 2013, Devin Connors 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.