Xi3 taking pre-orders for PISTON small console-like PC for late 2013 ship date

In January, PC maker Xi3 announced a partnership with Valve to launch what it called a tiny "development stage system" gaming PC that would be designed specifically to work with Valve's Steam client and its Big Picture mode. Xi3 also announced it had received an unspecified amount of funding from Valve on this venture.

This weekend, Xi3 announced that it has started taking pre-orders for its PISTON gaming PC. The price would normally start at $999 but from now until March 17th Xi3 has cut the pre-order price down by $100. Shipments of the PISTON PC will begin by the end of 2013. Xi3 is also showing off public demos of the PC in action at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin this weekend on alpha versions of the hardware.

The actual pre-order page shows that the hardware inside the PC will include an unnamed 3.2 Ghz quad-core processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD as standard, with higher prices for upgrading the SSD to 256 GB and 512 GB. There is no information on what operating system the PISTON PC will use on the pre-order page. However, a post on the Xi3 Facebook page says that this weekend they will also throw in a copy of Windows 7 for free as well with any pre-orders.

In the press release Jason A. Sullivan, the founder, president and CEO of Xi3, stated:

Clearly, the computer/video gaming market is huge, both in the personal computer and traditional console markets. That being said, we believe there is a crying need for a machine that captures the best of both worlds, with the upgradeability of computer gaming rigs and the design and form factor of consoles. We believe our PISTON Consoles do exactly that—deliver the beauty and small size of consoles with the upgradeability of computers.

While Xi3 promoted the fact that Valve was an investor in the company back in January, along with the fact that the PC would use Steam' Big Picture mode, this week's new press release makes no mention of Valve's involvement.

Source: Xi3 | Image via Xi3

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Trying to "capture the best of both worlds" but looks like they'll capture neither world with a half-assed effort like this.

This is apple style computing...looks nice but once you actually stack up what it can do you're left feeling like you've had your wallet pilfered from. At that price point you're firmly in "enthusiast gamer" territory. The sort of people who will lay out good money for top end products. This is far from a top end product. Has the top end price but is aimed at "casuals" and "dirty console peasants".

After Gabe Newell acting like a clown in recent months it's going to sweet watching this crash and burn.

Edited by Sandor, Mar 10 2013, 1:26am :

Considering a search for r464 quad core leads to information pertaining to an amd processor nearly identical to an a10-4600, the gpu would be an integrated 7660, but I wouldn't be surprised if they just aren't set on which dedicated gpu they are going to ship with. Unless they just don't believe that people are smart enough to say "How the hell do you expect me to pay a thousand dollars for something with non-dedicated graphics?"

My guess is it's using the AMD A8-5500. It's the only processor that would make sense since there's no space for a dedicated GPU.

Assuming it's that APU, you could put together a mini-ITX system with those specs for less than $500. Definitely not worth $1000.

giantpotato said,
My guess is it's using the AMD A8-5500. It's the only processor that would make sense since there's no space for a dedicated GPU.

Assuming it's that APU, you could put together a mini-ITX system with those specs for less than $500. Definitely not worth $1000.


Well the pre-order page lists R464 behind the processor so it would be closer to an a10 according to a Google search. Not that I am claiming Google leads to always correct answers lol

I have a Mac Mini (Late 2012) with 16GB of RAM that has Intel HD 4000 graphics. Why would I go for something like this at such price?

Mr.XXIV said,
I have a Mac Mini (Late 2012) with 16GB of RAM that has Intel HD 4000 graphics. Why would I go for something like this at such price?

I love the Mac mini but why 16gb ram ? Does 16 really help over 8gb ?

TurboShrimp said,

I love the Mac mini but why 16gb ram ? Does 16 really help over 8gb ?

I bought the Crucial RAM combo, it was $100 instead of Apple's $400.

I run a server on here at the same time I develop & design.

Running on integrated intel hd 4000 graphics? There is no listing for what the gpu is. I'm not paying $1k for a box without a dedicated gpu. The price is also ridiculous for what you are getting. I paid about $1500 for an i7 3770k (4.5 ghz quadcore overclocked), 32gb of 1600mhz ram, evga gtx 670, intel dz77ga70k mobo, 750 watt psu from corsair, a 180 gb intel ssd 6gbs, and another 128gb intel ssd, including a high end lian li all aluminum case and about 6 noctua fans in the case, bluray burning drive, and a copy of Windows 8 Pro oem. I bought and built this computer about 8+ months ago, the prices would be much less now for those components. This isn't any kind of deal for the specs they have here.

Edited by , Mar 9 2013, 8:32pm :

Your paying for the size and form factor, something like this is never going to be competitive on price with a custom built regular ATX or even mATX. Your buying widely available off the shelf parts, even economics of scale won't be enough to drive their prices down that they'll be competitive with custom builds.

If you don't need the form factor, this isn't the platform for you. Nor are you their target customer.
Their after the people who are targeting size and ease of placement/mix with other electronics over price/performance/expansion or anything else.

RandPC said,
Your paying for the size and form factor, something like this is never going to be competitive on price with a custom built regular ATX or even mATX. Your buying widely available off the shelf parts, even economics of scale won't be enough to drive their prices down that they'll be competitive with custom builds.

If you don't need the form factor, this isn't the platform for you. Nor are you their target customer.
Their after the people who are targeting size and ease of placement/mix with other electronics over price/performance/expansion or anything else.

At $1k you are paying for an overpriced pc that will be completely useless for games that require a high end GPU, something this box conceivably is unable to accommodate due to its small size. Buy a real console if you are worried about smaller form factor and want to game. This is a pretty looking box that otherwise will do very little in the demographic they are trying to target. Someone looking to play casual games isn't about to dump $1k on a box, maybe $199. They are trying to offer console appeal, with very little to no upgradability at high end PC prices, this has failure written all over it.

This box maybe at best you can upgrade the cpu and ram, that is it, the graphics will get upgraded to whatever integrated intel/amd graphics come on board. You will be paying $200+ for that 'benefit', which is basically the cost of a new console.

So for $1k you basically bought a useless box because it 'looks cute', whereas you could have purchased any gaming prebuilt pc or built your own, or had someone build you one for around the same price with MORE functionality. You will still have the same software running on it - Windows + Steam and the same amount of managing you need to do - apply updates to Windows, update Steam regardless of how 'pretty' the box looks.

This is form over function.

Edited by , Mar 9 2013, 8:57pm :

JimmyJamesRoS said,
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ICsX

This system you built for $1,500 would have been going for around $2k during the holiday shopping season. I would love to know what store I can get the prices you claim you paid.

Amazon and Newegg. There were quite a few rebates at the time at amazon. I got rebates on the intel ssd's - almost $100 off - intel actually screwed up and sent me the rebates twice so $200 but I did not factor that into the price., the gpu gtx670 I also got a rebate for and picked it up for around $310 after rebate, the same on the ram - 32gb corsair dominator ram was 250. The cpu and mobo I didn't have any rebates on. The noctua heatsink and fans were not 30 dollars as listed in your spec sheet - I paid closer to 15 each on amazon, the noctua heatsink was around 35 - it was a 3rd party seller on amazon. I got a pioneer bluray burner and it wasn't the latest or greatest for $50 on newegg - no software included and oem. The mobo I paid around $220 for so more than what you have listed. The psu also isn't the one you list - it has a blue label on it not gold.

Edited by , Mar 10 2013, 1:44am :