Last week, Valve revealed its plan to take over the living room with a three pronged attack - SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Steam controller. SteamOS will be out this year, but Steam Machines will not. The original Steam box that was shown at CES this year will though.
Xi3 announced today that its Piston Micro PC will launch on November 29. The $999 PC will arrive on November 15 for those who preordered one during the SXSW 2013 Gaming Expo.
“The Piston Console is just Xi3’s first step in what we believe will be a transformative
technology revolution for the Living Room,” said Jason A. Sullivan, Xi3’s founder, president and CEO. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I know is coming because it’s not time to tell you. But I will say this: the bar has been raised. Piston is smaller, lighter, and will last longer, provide more gaming options and be more powerful than any other gaming console on the planet. The reason I feel confident in saying this is because we started with a clean slate, unlike competing manufacturers. And that Tabula Rasa approach is what sets Piston apart from other gaming systems today and what will set us apart tomorrow."
Despite unintentionally name dropping one of the biggest gaming flops of the last decade in its press release, the Xi3 Piston packs a little more punch than Richard Garriott's MMO. For $999, you get a tiny PC with an 128GB SSD, an ethernet controller that prioritizes gaming traffic, a 3.2 GHz AMD Trinity APU with Radeon 7000 series GPU, and 8GB of RAM. It should be noted that the SSD can be expanded to include two 512GB mSATA SSDs for over 1TB of storage.
Xi3 claims that this set up will allow the Piston to display out to three monitors or a single 4K monitor. Such a claim is technically true, but it looks like the Piston will be using the AMD A8-5600K complete with Radeon HD 7560D. In a comparison test on Tom's Hardware, the A8-5600K could only manage about 22 FPS at 1080p with Skyrim set to medium.
For those looking for a gaming PC for your living room, you could do much worse than the Xi3 Piston. At its $999 asking price, however, it's a little steep. You could buy the components it uses and build a comparable living room PC for half the price. Hell, you could go with a better CPU, add on a more powerful discrete AMD GPU and still come in under $1,000.
In short, the Xi3 is a decent first attempt at bringing PC gaming to the living room. The specs will be more than enough to play any PC game released before 2010, but anything after that becomes dubious. If you want a living room machine to play sophisticated games on, you're much better off buying a PS4 or an Xbox One. Either of those consoles will provide much better looking games at half the price. If you're adamant about sticking with a PC, you can either build your own or wait for whatever Valve has in store with its Steam Machines in 2014.[Image: Xi3]