The First ‘Steam Box’ Will Launch This Holiday Season Starting At US$1,000

The First ‘Steam Box’ Will Launch This Holiday Season Starting At US$1,000

Xi3’s Piston — the first unofficial Steam Box console — will launch this holiday at a starting price of $US1,000, the hardware manufacturer announced today.

If you preorder it before March 18, you’ll get a $US100 discount.

The Piston is the first PC designed specifically to play games in your living room using Steam’s Big Picture mode. Valve is helping finance the machine, although the Steam makers are developing their own Steam Box that will also be released this year, according to Valve boss Gabe Newell.

“Clearly, the computer/video gaming market is huge, both in the personal computer and traditional console markets,” Xi3 CEO Jason Sullivan said in a press release. “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.”


    • Expensive, expensive and expensive. That’s all you need to know.
      In today’s low economy world, releasing a console (cause that’s what this is basically) at a US$1000 price point is guaranteed failure in the market

      • ‘Cause Valve’s entire business model thus far has been so poorly executed. I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t undertake a venture without doing market research first….

        $1000 isn’t that much for a complete no fuss PC that is designed for gaming. Playstations release at about that price on launch too you know, and yet everyone scrambles for them. The difficulty of building a gaming grade PC is one of the major things that stops people from playing gaming on PC rather than console. Just because you can build a PC doesn’t mean other people can or want to.

        It never ceases to amaze me how everyone is a complete expert on everything. “Guaranteed failure”. It may well be, but I certainly hope not as it might be the one thing we need to bring PC gaming back to the primary rather than secondary, and hence stop our games being gimped ports.

        • Playstations don’t, actually.

          This would be 30 – 40% higher than the PS3 price, which was universally condemned due to launch price.

          • Lol, the thing comes with the HD eyetoy 4, controller and headset, no way is it going to be cheap, 400+ US is a minimum long shot, and thats with losing money

        • Valve wouldn’t have done the ROI analysis on this device. They are providing the platform, in much the same way Google developed Android. We’ll have a better idea of what price Valve thinks the market can bear when they release their in-house box.

          • Exactly. Let’s do some quick calculations:

            1000 USD = 997 AUD.

            Now let’s include Australia tax:

            1500 AUD.

            This is very expensive, so I can’t help but feel it is woefully underpowered for the price. In my opinion, this will be a bit of a flop, but enough people will buy it that Valve will be able to learn from the release in time to fine-tune their own.


            AMD Quad-Core A10-4600M 2.3 GHz – 3.2 GHz (Turbo)
            AMD Radeon HD7660G
            8GB DDR3
            128 GB SSD

            (AMD R464 is the embedded version of the A10-4600M)

            Considering I could get the parts from PCCG for an equivalent system with the fully-fledged A10-5800K APU for about $530 plus delivery, they have a lot to answer for. Sure, that’s not a pre-built machine and it’s Mini-ITX as opposed to the smaller form-factor on display here, but that’s a whopping price difference that even Apple would scoff at.

          • Actually that’s right up Apples alley.
            You can get an iPad mini rip off that actually has better specs for $99.

          • I sincerely doubt it’s in the same realm of build quality as the iPad or any decent Android, nor can it run iOS. Most super-cheap Android tablets are downright horrible in so many ways. There’s a lot more to it than raw specs with a tablet. For the Steambox in question, the difference in build quality can’t account for the $500 dollar premium (keep in mind, the $530 example I mentioned above is with good quality components – not a cheap knock-off

            Let’s not get into an Apple pricing debate. It’s totally irrelevant and is always fuel for a brand war.

        • If anything this is going to just make PC games feel like those “gimped ports” you mentioned. They are trying to further base PC games around a TV and in most cases a controller as the primary input device. On top of that they are attempting to lay down a standard set of hardware which may lead developers to see no reason to include additional quality for higher end hardware.

          Overall this isn’t really a great thing if you want to keep being a part of the PC master race. This is an attempt to make the PC a more generic device.

        • Why was this downvoted to -10? He was simply expressing his opinion, and it may differ from yours. Doesn’t need to be downvoted.

          Edit: Wow, really? Down to -2?

          • Because the up voting and down voting system on Kotaku has made the community toxic like every other website with an uncontrolled, unadministered voting system.

            Their press release actually states “The PISTON Console is derived from the forthcoming X7A Modularâ„¢ Computer. Xi3 will reveal additional product details about the PISTON Console and its plans for formally entering the game marketplace at the 2013 SXSW Gaming Expo.”

            So we can’t make any judgements on price at the moment for a grapefruit sized device given that the specifications are subject to change. Having said that, to a degree, he is right. The PS3 was expensive at launch AND it was heavily subsidised by Sony. Facts are simply facts.

            It’s actually not $1000 either, it’s $899 in the 128GB SSD configuration. And yes, they will ship it to Australia at that price. I contacted them.

            For comparison, an equivalent Mac Mini is > $1099 WITHOUT an SSD and without a semi-decent video card. So, I don’t know… $899 seems pretty reasonable to me.

        • You neg this guy because he had the gall to say that people on the internet aren’t experts on everything and lacks your pessimisim.

          What is wrong with you people?

      • first off… console lovers are the main people looking to get good graphics with decent price not so much pc gamers… 2nd off the playstation 4 is easily going to cost 399… plus 5 dolars a month… now 5 times 12… times about 7 for the years between now and the next generation… how much money are you spending?? and also 60 dolar titles which could escalate to 70 if they follow in sony’s infamous 10 dolar ante every generation… ok 60 dolars a year… for 7 years of membership along with console that’s 800 dolars… and if you only plan to buy 3 games within a 7 year time then you will just stay under the 1000 dolar price tag… now steam has sales that put many games under nearly 75 % off i’v even seen a few at 95% range 1000 dolars plus games at around 5 to ten dolars a pop…I would say estimates to around 1200 dolars… soo… in reallity you would easily spend the same if not more money on the sony’s ps4 than you would on the steam box

  • Surely they can’t be that small right? I’m not an expert on gaming PC’s –which is why it Interests me in the first place– but how could you fit components in something that small? The price is ok I think – if it was the equivalent of a medium to high range PC.

    • Hang on – that’s $1000 US, yeah probably add an extra few hundred onto that for us Aussies. maybe not so ok then . All depends on specs I guess.

      • According to the pre-order page. It costs 899 USD (with the discount), with the following specs: 8 GB RAM (possibly DDR3), 128 GB SSD Hard Drive and 3.2 GHz Quad Core processor.

        If you want more space for the hard drive, it’s +340 USD for a 256 GB SSD, and +750 USD for a 512 GB SSD.

        Add a few hundred dollars more and you’ll get the price for Australia.

          • considering apparently the price to add a 512GB SSD is $750US on the official site, I would expect the Australian version with 512GB SSD will be over $3000AUS, probably by some margin. . .

    • Yeah good one. That’s why there’s more people playing PC than console these days!!!

      The whole concept of this device is to make PC gaming ACCESSIBLE to people who have no idea how to build a PC.

      • Most good computer shops even put together your builds for you these days. Lack of technical knowledge is no excuse!

      • So someone made this product because there are enough people out there who don’t know how to build a PC but will happily spend $1000 just to play CS Source, TF2, and indie games on their TV for ? With OUYA coming out this month and 1/10th of the price this ‘SteamBox’ seems really pointless. You are better off waiting for the real SteamBox.

      • Christ you’re ignorant. You completely missed the point of shithead’s post that it runs Linux! The game selection is so small, and good luck seeing any big games being ported to Linux.

        • It comes with Linux. Valve has stated that you can put whatever OS you want on it.
          Linux doesn’t support much YET, but everyone has to start somewhere. There weren’t many iOS games at launch either, and yet now some doom’n’gloomers are saying it’s “the death of the console.”.

    • This @shithead is right. Though it’ll more likely be AU$1,400. The only benefit I can see for this is that it’s so tiny that it’ll fit next to your TV no matter what kind of space you do or don’t have in your living room. It’ll also be great as a media player. But… dat price.

  • I again ask who is this marketed towards? Console gamers will have their PS4’s or Xbox 720’s and dedicated PC gamers will have their PC’s so i ask who is it aimed at?

    Another question that has been bugging me with this is are all PC components fitted into the small chassis or will your PC do all the work and it streams to the box which connected to the TV?

    This is indeed a strange device.

    • The only “awesome” feature I can see with this thing is that it’s super portable. You could even take it travelling with you and hook it up to hotel TVs etc (I mean, sure you could do way more with a laptop but whatever).

    • It’s a whole PC luke, it just uses more tightly integrated hardware so you only have to plug this in and it works. Also the x13 site is suggesting you can buy one $499 most of the price is due to their SSD’s which are over priced, you can also buy a mountable HDD 1 or 2 tb.

      The best feature by far looked like the ability to screw it to the back of a monitor making it completely obscured from view. It’s got a few USB ports and such on the side as well so you don’t even have to worry about their extras. I’m not too sure about aussie tax though, it will depend if retailer’s import them in and sell them way overpriced like computer parts.
      If you’re lucky the shipping costs from america might actually make this a easy and cheap solution, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much; I just got an M-ITX last month so I’m not impulse buying any new tech for a while.

  • Don’t worry guys, this isnt the actual steam box, just one that steam is helping finance. Hopefully the real one will be a hell of a lot cheaper.

          • More people using their new Linux based platform so they don’t have to worry about major competitors.

          • Im interested in seeing what possible hardware could be in those though?

            You’re not gonna be looking at stuff like 660 video cards or anything like that I’m guessing, so is it possible they’ve gone with something the equivelant of say, a tegra style chip? I’m very curious I must admit. Given the size of it, it’s going to require some serious cooling ability, I know it’s got the venting but still…

            Then again we still don’t know exactly WHAT it does…

  • Hmm, over priced console released by successful game dev/publisher on the cusp of a new generation of console hardware up against the Sony juggernaut.

    Remands me of the 3DO, and that didn’t go to well.

  • And everyone flew off the handles at the Wii U’s price of $400. $1000 USD will be more likley $1200+ here in Australia.

      • Nope, read about other news sites and such. Plenty of people crying for a price drop on something that is already selling at a loss.

          • I was happy to as I work and save and can afford nice things lol. But and It is more my fault for explaining it wrong, and being brief in my context. I should have stated that while some people have complained about the price is to dear, there are now people demanding a price cut. When in reality the Wii U only needs games.

      • Same, pricing was one of the few things I feel Nintendo did well with the Wii U. What more could they have done $350 that would of been insane.

    • You’ll need to install Windows before you can play those 8-12 GB games too. So that’ll take up another 20GB at least.

      • and hard drive manufacturers still think 1gb=1000mb not 1024mb.. So you’re already down to about 115gb on the drive with NOTHING on it.

        • I think I read something once about how Windows sees a 128GB ssd drive as having only 96(?)GB of useable space. I can’t remember really. Anyway, 128GB isn’t really enough at all for a digital download exclusive game console. 500GB should be the minimum.

          • If that’s true then bugger that. I know OSX see’s 110GB usable space of a 120GB drive..

            Well at least 256gb to begin with.

  • 1000 dollars for somthing that seems to lack all the advantages of consoles and PC..and has al lthe disadvantages?

  • I don’t get it….

    1. I have a computer
    2. I can buy a more powerful computer for $1000
    3. Yes it’s small but whats the point?

  • I seriously do not know how they expect this console to sell, looking at the specs this Steam Box has arguably a better CPU than what we’ll see in the 720 and PS4 and SSD which at most could hold probably 12-15 games, all at price point $400 above the launch price of the PS3.

    It seems like this week has a theme of companies not learning from history, since just as EA didn’t learn from Diablo III’s launch for the launch of SimCity, Xi3/Valve didn’t learn from the debacle that was the PS3 launch.

    Even being fair and assuming that the official Steam Box will be running on Linux also, therefore meaning the platform will be more heavily supported by valve than it currently is, the Steam Box is still at a disadvantage, even if the processor and such are better than what is offered by the 720/PS4, they still have to have that hardware work to accommodate the OS, unlike the other consoles where they develop their own Console OS to accommodate the hardware.

    Sorry to say this but all signs at the moment point to this being a niche item and not a major player in the console war, hopefully the official Steam Box might be a little more accessible, but who is going to spend $1000 bucks on a console made by a company no-one has really ever heard from (Xi3, not Valve) when Sony themselves couldn’t sell a $600 console after handily winning the previous two generations, prior to the financial crisis.

    • I read somewhere that despite the PS4 not having the speed of a top of the range chip it has a far wider Bus that can help make up for it.

      The problem with this box is I think 90% of the market their aiming for would rather go spend $1000 on a PC. Most of the people whinging about the price of this thing would happily drop $1500 on a PC and more on the gaming Keyboard and Mouse. I’m not saying you need to spend that much for a gaming PC, but I’m saying you’d rather spend $500 more on a PC you design yourself than this box.

      • I can see your point, my current machine I would value at around $800 dollars but I have certainly paid more than that on it over it’s life span, and was more than happy to do so to have a PC capable of playing all current release titles with no major issues. I say that owning all previous gen consoles and the Wii U, yest despite this my PC takes up around 70% of my overall gaming time.

        The problem I personally have with the Piston is it is horribly impractical for the price they’re charging, it has the benefit of the PC plus all the detriments while being positioned in a console setting, competing with consoles custom designed to be utilised in the loungeroom, something by it’s very nature the Piston cannot do.

        On top of this despite people in this thread stating the Piston will be upgradable (therefore it will get cheaper over time) from what I’ve read up regarding the console it states the motherboard itself is custom designed (obviously to fit in the small case) alongside the majority of it’s parts, does this mean that when you want to upgrade, the only parts you’ll be able to utilise are Xi3 approved hardware, considering they’re charging $750US to upgrade the SSD to 512GB, I doubt upgrading with them at any stage is going to be a cheap option.

        The more I read into this project the more i cannot help but feel pessimistic about it, every piece of information about it I’ve seen so far tends to lead me to think it would be less hassle in the long run just to buy a general PC.

  • It’s definitely expensive, but it’s not overly expensive for the early adopter market it’s targeting. I think this thing is going to go gang-busters personally, not overnight, but within a few years.

    Here’s some food for thought:

    Just comparing PC vs console – A good gaming rig might cost you $1000 or so. A new console might cost $400 or so. AND YET, even with that difference in price, I still consider a PC to be a reasonably cost effective gaming device, because of how easy and cheap Steam games are compared to console games, not just the sales on older games, but even brand new PC games are always $20 cheaper on average than brand new consoles games (there are so many easy ways around the aussie tax if that’s an issue for the game).

    Some other pros: it will have your entire existing library of Steam games, and rather than having the xbox store or playstation store, it has Steam, sales included. This Steam box theoretically replaces not just your console, but multiple consoles. You’ll be seeing less and less third party exclusives next-gen, and with the next-gen featuring PC hardware, ports will be better and come out sooner than before. So instead of buying a 720 and PS4, you could just get a Steambox and be sitting pretty. The only thing you’ll miss out on is first party exclusives and Kinect/Move. And PC games are usually better – you get better graphics, customisation, modability and usually networking too. Mods alone are enough for me to choose PC. The main thing PC games were ever worse at was being able to sit on the couch and play them. Oh, and PC multiplayer doesn’t require a yearly subscription.

    I don’t think it’s the case right now that buying a Steam box could replace next-gen consoles at all – it’s a new product and priced at a premium -definitely not worth it at the moment, but what about in a years time when both the next gen consoles are actually out and the Steambox, using the latest hardware, retails for less than $700? In that case it will be a lot easier to choose paying for the slightly more expensive Steam box instead of the a next gen console and getting all the benefits that come with that.

    This is currently a product for early adopters and rich folk, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the way that the majority of people game on their PCs in 5 years.

    • You wrote a well-thought out, insightful post that didn’t just condemn anything to do with money.

      It’s a wonder you haven’t been destroyed by the biggest group of ignorant message board writers you’ve ever seen.

    • Doubtful that this will catch on. Xbox live and PS4 play are already established markets, its going to be too hard for this to penetrate that. Most Current PC gamers wont move since they know this will never compare in terms of value for money.

      The problem with PC games is they aren’t as optimized as Xbox/ps4 console games, right now we are moving to a point where software seems to be more dominant than hardware. And its not possible / ridiculously hard to optimize something for the huge variety of PC’s.

      So assuming current PC gamers won’t switch to this console PC that leaves console gamers. Right now console gamers don’t have to worry about drivers, about trouble shooting, about updating ventrillo / mumble / skype just to chat, about navigating through graphics options until you find a setting that gives optimum frames and as high as possible graphics.

      Also who the hell is going to use this console PC box by a desk – its meant for the TV which means hand held controllers – this means RTS / Moba games (crazy popular atm) and most MMO’s are out of the question. Good luck solving that problem.

      This is going to crash and burn or just fizzle out eventually.

      • Those are definitely the potential downfalls of this product.

        I think that initially it will pull in the existing PC gamers – people who currently game on overpriced gaming laptops or Dell boxes and who aren’t aware of the benefits of building you own rig. Current console gamers may consider it when they’re looking at investing in next-gen, and their decisions will be based on how successful the product is going at that point and how positive the reviews are.

        You’re definitely right about the issues with drivers and graphics options, which is something I think the Steam box hopes to remedy. It will be a dedicated gaming machine that does all of that for you behind the scenes -it can do this because it will be using set hardware that’s known to Steam, and just the same way that Steam updates your games automatically, the Steambox will update your drivers and even graphics settings automatically if you want it to (I’m sure enthusiasts could turn this off though if you don’t want it). So the aim of the Steambox is to be just as easy as consoles. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s actually the case though.

        I could build a box now that could be used to game on the TV, but then I’d have to research small form quiet cases and the components that all fit into that, plan it all out, source the parts and build it myself, hook up a wireless controller and tweak windows / linux to boot straight into a Steam UI for gaming. OR I could just buy a Steambox, controller included, HDMI plugs into TV, press ON and I’m gaming. To me that justifies the premium, and I am a person that always builds my own rigs (I’m currently sitting amongst the innards of a few gaming PC’s and re-purposing an older box to run in a MAME cabinet), so I imagine that to the average “what’s a RAM?” consumer it will make even more sense.

        There’s no easy way around the RTS, MMO and Moba thing though, I agree. Even with a wireless keyboard and mouse, those games are designed for a closer screen with more detail/text happening all the time. Steambox isn’t going to be able to aim for that crowd, it will have to go after the FPS, RPG etc crowd that has been brought up on consoles.

        I think Steam has been largely responsible for keeping PC gaming alive during the last console cycle (along with MMO’s and Minecraft), so I’m also basing some of this optimism on the faith I have in Valve. Time will tell though.

      • well obviously sony doesn’t see the problem with console gaming an mmo due to the fact that they have brough elder scrolls online onto their platform…

  • I’m sure an official Steam box won’t be anywhere near as ridiculous as this thing. So I’ll wait for the first “real” Steam box.

  • When was the last time a game console was upgradeable? Is Sony even offering upgradeability on Playstation 4? I think Valve will still find success with this concept because it’ll be an unlocked media PC that actually works for XBMC/network streaming. As well as the gaming side which is future-proof in a way which a games console just isn’t. As for optimization to make the OS support the hardware. Linux can be stripped down to absolutely bare minimal levels. There are versions of linux which can boot and run on a 486 and there is no way a modern gaming console is small enough to do that. Just look at OS update sizes for PS3/Xbox.

    • I’m not sure on the media PC as we haven’t seen what is the underlying OS. If it is Windows, then this will be a headache as the consoles are straight plug-n-play compared to setting it up and going through the wizard. Linux would mean even more headaches as you’ll need to get the latest sudo-apt to get most of the files which isn’t shipped for most distros.

      Either way, it is primarily a gaming console and that’s the major problem. If Valve is intent on conquering the console realm, they’ll need something more than ‘it can play games at wonderful resolution’.

  • There are somethings I like about eh steam box but like others have said it’s cheaper to build a htpc with a decent graphics card and then just load steam on and you’re in business.

  • I think you guys are just cheap, get a job work hard make your money to pay for things.
    i still dont think i will buy this when you could build a much better mini atx pc for cheaper

  • I’m not really surprised, computers need alot better specs than a graphically equivalent console game, due to the fact your running a fully featured OS in the background and console games are much better optimised for the hardware among other things.

    Computers are sold at a profit, meaning if the parts cost say $700 they sell at $900, consoles are sold at a loss and profit from games, and since they are better optimised they can use cheaper parts so it might cost $500 and can be sold at $400.

    Overall I think steambox isn’t going to shake up the market at all since it has no benefits over consoles and no benefits over a pc.

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