Xi3 Making Valve’s Fabled Steam Box? That’s News to Valve, It Turns Out

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News Posted: Tue, Jan 8 2013 11:42 PM
Earlier, we came across a hot item about Valve and their rumored Steam Box gaming console. Word came out that modular PC maker Xi3 was Valve’s hardware partner on the project and was showing off the result, a beautifully designed computer called the Piston. However, when we eagerly scooted over to Valve’s booth here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, they told us that the story simply was not true.

According to Valve, there are several--potential--hardware partners, and in fact that’s pretty much all Valve’s booth is for at CES; press wasn’t allowed in. When we pushed a bit for more details, Valve’s representative was polite but firm: We were unable to enter the booth and inspect the various potential hardware, and there were no demonstrations to be seen.

Valve booth
The Valve Booth at CES 2013; note consoles by the TVs

Further, Valve was completely mum on whether or not a Steam Box exists at all or is in the works. That said, we were allowed to take a photo from outside the booth, and you can clearly see that an Xi3 device and several others are connected to a pair of TVs. Presumably, these are all hardware prototypes for the Steam Box, which isn’t officially anything yet.

Valve Xi3 Piston

With apologies, Valve would only give us this boilerplate response:

"Valve will be at CES to meet with hardware and content developers in our booth space. We are bringing multiple custom HW prototypes as well as some off-the-shelf PC’s to our CES meetings, which are low-cost, high performance designs for the living room that are great candidates for Steam and Big Picture. We will be sharing more information to the press and public in the coming months."

Xi3, however, was also adamant that its Piston PC is the real deal, leaving us to conclude that Xi3 was misinformed about Valve’s commitment to its hardware. (For what it’s worth, Xi3 has some very intriguing products of its own that we’ll report on soon.)

As the dust is settling on this PR misfire, two things are clear: Xi3 is not making a Steam Box console for Valve, but Valve is testing hardware and vetting partners for something that will eventually be a Steam console, or at least something along those lines.
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sevags replied on Wed, Jan 9 2013 12:36 AM

Didn't think so. It was a very pricey system to begin with there was no way for steam would have been able to sell them to anyone It would have to be one dumbed down version with none of those parts on the back thus making it a whole other beast with a piston case...

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Atticus14 replied on Wed, Jan 9 2013 12:45 AM

The Verge has a great interview with Gabe covering a lot of this confusion. I don't Valve is will offer a multitude of devices through several hardware partners with Xi3 likely being one of them. It's important to remember that while the steam box is like a console its not going to be locked down like one, and you could see many PCs promoted as "compatible with steam box" or whatever they end up calling this service.

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Its juts another device capable of running steam... it will likely jut come preloaded.

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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Jan 9 2013 6:47 AM

That seems like a logical implementation too. Sort of like what Boxee did when they first started out. These are basically just dedicated PC appliances packaged in application optimized form factors but the software should run on anything pretty much.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Jan 9 2013 11:40 AM

Xi3's blowing smoke.

This box uses an AMD cpu with integrated graphics. Combine that with ATI's cattle-ist Linux drivers and you get a relatively bad experience. nVidia's recently been working with Valve and making great performance improvements to their drivers, whereas AMD's newer drivers have actually gone backwards a few FPS in the last year.

The prototype Coomer posted to his twitter was an intel/nVidia box, which makes a hell of a lot more sense for Steam on Linux.

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