If there was any doubt in your mind that cloud gaming is here, then the announcement of the Xi3 Piston will eradicate any notion of doubt from your mind forever! Introducing Valve’s answer to NVIDIA’s Grid.
Developed by modular computer maker, Xi3 the “Steam Box” or “Steam Piston” –as it has been unofficially dubbed – will revolutionize gaming forever. Firstly and most importantly it is a compact-computer running a version of Linux OS that is built entirely for gaming and powered by Steam. The end.
This makes it’s foremost advantage also one of its disadvantages - the fact that it only runs Steam and therefore users only have access to the games within the Steam library…which is nothing to be frowned upon. Console gamers may be pleased at the notion of this, as replacing one’s console with the Steam Box will mean that backwards compatibility will be a worry of the past. Simply put, whoever chooses a PS4 over this is either ignorant if not completely bonkers.
For the rest of us PC gamers, a brilliant little feature that Valve have included into the somewhat hefty price tag of the Steam Box is a buyback program that allows users to sell their old Steam Box hardware for a credit towards new hardware when the need comes. I cannot begin to grasp the concept…all I know is the thought of not having to succumb to omnipresent CUD is overwhelming and somewhat unreal
This little device gives the expression ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ its weight in gold. The 4-inch cube features several USB ports, both 2.0 and 3.0, HDMI output, an onboard router @10gb/s as well as several Audio ports. In terms of its internal makeup, like everything else in life, there is a scaled down (cheap/useless) version and then the proper (more expensive) version of the Steam Box, meaning that it’s internals vary somewhat. It contains internal storage in the form of a Solid-State Hard drive between 64GB and 1TB; It is powered by a 3.4GHz Quad-Core CPU with 384 Programmable graphics cores and 8 Gigs of DDR3 Ram. All of which consumes a tiny 40 Watts of power…most gaming rigs with these specs consume upwards of 800 Watts. The best part of this all, is that device can run up to 4K resolution, which is impressive to say the least.
This all said, the one downside to the Steam Box is its price tag. Right now it’s priced upwards of $1000, which equates to the price of a midrange PC and is obviously double the price of any console on the market. Given the advantages though, it should be seriously considered by anyone who is looking to upgrade their PC or Console or both within the next 12-18 months!
Valve has not given us much more than this up to now and they have been pretty mum in terms of the launch date. Speculation has it that we will hear more at E3 this year, we will most definitely keep you updated as and when we find out more.