Valve Invests Money in Xi3’s Really Tiny Modular PC

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Posted by patrickklepek (4004 posts) -

Wait, something interesting is happening at CES?! Xi3 has received an investment from Valve to produce a new product--a very tiny computer--meant to more easily funnel computer games to HDTVs through Steam and its Big Picture mode.

It’s a modular computer, which means it will ship with certain pieces of hardware, but its specs can be adjusted over time with upgrades. The exact components have not been revealed, but the company told Polygon it’s based on its X7A model, which is priced at $999.

Polygon has also learned that Valve is meeting with a number of companies to discuss similar technology.

Xi3 tried to raise money on Kickstarter for a modular computer last fall, but fell well short of its $250,000 goal.

Rumors of a “Steam Box” have floated for a while now, and while Valve has acknowledged it’s working on hardware prototypes, the exact nature of its plans have been unclear. That remains true with this news out of CES. Will Valve only be partnering and investing with some companies, rather than produce something on it’s own? Too early to tell, but clearly the ball has started rolling, and 2013 is shaping up to be a wild year for video (and computer) games.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (4004 posts) -

Wait, something interesting is happening at CES?! Xi3 has received an investment from Valve to produce a new product--a very tiny computer--meant to more easily funnel computer games to HDTVs through Steam and its Big Picture mode.

It’s a modular computer, which means it will ship with certain pieces of hardware, but its specs can be adjusted over time with upgrades. The exact components have not been revealed, but the company told Polygon it’s based on its X7A model, which is priced at $999.

Polygon has also learned that Valve is meeting with a number of companies to discuss similar technology.

Xi3 tried to raise money on Kickstarter for a modular computer last fall, but fell well short of its $250,000 goal.

Rumors of a “Steam Box” have floated for a while now, and while Valve has acknowledged it’s working on hardware prototypes, the exact nature of its plans have been unclear. That remains true with this news out of CES. Will Valve only be partnering and investing with some companies, rather than produce something on it’s own? Too early to tell, but clearly the ball has started rolling, and 2013 is shaping up to be a wild year for video (and computer) games.

Staff
#2 Edited by 46464646 (14 posts) -

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

#3 Posted by TheHT (11102 posts) -

It begins! Well I guess it began with rumours way back when, later verified, and I suppose now acted upon.

It continues!

#4 Posted by warxsnake (2645 posts) -

Nvidia announced the product I wanted Steam to make. 
I totally though Steam, after having revealed Big Pic Mode, would focus on hardware that could stream your steam games from your PC to your TV in a Wifi environment, with hardware and software optimized for game streaming (no lag). 
It's a shame because that's what a lot of pc gamers want. They are not interested in a "shitty PC".  

It seems Nvidia did exactly what I thought Steam was going to do, with their Shield project, that can finally stream Steam wirelessly to your HDTV.  

#5 Posted by sissylion (679 posts) -

"Here's a bunch of shit, because, why not?" - all video game hardware developers over the past five years or so

#6 Posted by bkbroiler (1618 posts) -

@46464646 said:

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

People who want to have a console box that will run Steam games, and won't be outdated in a few years because it can be easily upgraded. Supposedly.

#7 Posted by PimblyCharles (1363 posts) -

@46464646 said:

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

It's for people who want an easy way to get a PC that will play Steam games at more than just low visual settings. I build my own gaming PCs from scratch, but not everyone knows how to do that or what hardware to get. This makes it easy for those interested in PC gaming without worrying about hardware. Pretty smart on Valve's part.

#8 Posted by DoctorWelch (2774 posts) -

Using the word "Infamous" incorrectly really annoys me.

#9 Posted by The_Nubster (2090 posts) -

Interesting. I wonder if this will make it out of the gate, or if it's another one of Valve's curiosity ventures that will eventually disappear? Either way, it'll be cool to see how far this goes, and what it can do.

#10 Posted by Winternet (8012 posts) -

Wait. CES produced actual, interesting and meaningful news? I don't believe it.

#11 Posted by MeatSim (10821 posts) -

Finally a computer for Reducto.

#12 Posted by Benny (1950 posts) -

I heard the GPU in this is the same as a macbook pro. So basically, you don't want to play any console - scale, retail type game on it or you'll be looking at a worse experience than an xbox probably.

#13 Posted by CaLe (3945 posts) -

@DoctorWelch said:

Using the word "Infamous" incorrectly really annoys me.

Are you saying Jesse James and the Steam Box have nothing in common?

#14 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Wrong "its" at the end, Patrick.

#15 Posted by sixpin (1287 posts) -

I don't see this doing great if it is going to cost $1000 retail, like the model on which it is based.

#16 Posted by lanerobertlane (139 posts) -

steam box $999 vs long HDMI cable $2 I fail to see who this is for. Or the Nvidia device, if i want my pc screen in my hand i have Splashtop for that.

#17 Posted by Kidavenger (3528 posts) -

@bkbroiler said:

@46464646 said:

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

People who want to have a console box that will run Steam games, and won't be outdated in a few years because it can be easily upgraded. Supposedly.

Exactly how is that going to be easily upgraded?

Who is going to pay $1000 for a substandard living room console?

This thing misses the mark in so many ways...

#18 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2216 posts) -

Well this is kind of a let down, I guess I wanted more than just a smaller PC for the lounge room.

#19 Posted by JoeyRavn (4962 posts) -

@PimblyCharles said:

@46464646 said:

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

It's for people who want an easy way to get a PC that will play Steam games at more than just low visual settings. I build my own gaming PCs from scratch, but not everyone knows how to do that or what hardware to get. This makes it easy for those interested in PC gaming without worrying about hardware. Pretty smart on Valve's part.

It will be very expensive, though. $1000 for desktop PC will probably get you much better hardware than this box. I understand the appeal of having a "console that's not a console", or a "PC that is more console than PC", but the sacrifices, shortcuts and compromises you have to make to get one are not worth the price, if you ask me.

I think it would have been better if Valve somehow came up with a way to stream your games from your PC to your TV with as little lag as possible. Something like NVIDIA's Shield, but (potentially) less expensive.

#20 Posted by Shuborno (938 posts) -

*shrugs*

For much less than $1000 I could build a killer full size desktop, connect it to my TV, and hide it behind my other electronic junk sitting beside my TV. It would be no bigger than my subwoofer, which is already sitting there.

#21 Posted by damswedon (3185 posts) -

Holy shit, it is that thing!

Tested did a video with them at, I think, last years CES.

#22 Posted by DougCL (213 posts) -

never in a million years would i spend one thousand dollars on that thing.

#23 Posted by Mezmero (1858 posts) -

This is crazy. Sure I want to get back into PC games but that's a lot of dough to dole out for good performance on my outdated tower. I'd sooner try to build a new one even though I'm an amateur.

#24 Posted by brandonleedy (74 posts) -

Would everyone pump their brakes? This article isn't saying that the pictured computer is a steambox or that it would retail at $1k. Valve invested in this company, companies invest all the time. A small modular PC makes sense for Valve to invest in, as they want to see improvements in the tech. In fact they're probably investing _because_ they see a 1K device and want to see it cheaper in the future. Also, if Valve were to make something like this, they have the clout/pull to promise bigger numbers, and higher production runs = cheaper prices per part at scale = cheaper price to the consumer. Sheesh, it's like you guys haven't gone through console development rumors before.

#25 Posted by Sackmanjones (4682 posts) -

A thousand bucks? Wow that is way too much for something like this.

#26 Posted by SharkMan (647 posts) -
"Valve will be at CES to meet with hardware and content developers in our booth space," Lombardi said. "We are bringing multiple custom (hardware) prototypes as well as some off-the-shelf PCs to our CES meetings."

Lombardi described the prototypes as "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," he added.

http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/8/3850952 ... piston-one

#27 Posted by KingHippp0 (113 posts) -

The price of PC games would be more than enough to offset the higher hardware cost of this console. Watching and waiting.

#28 Posted by YoThatLimp (1897 posts) -

Build a thing that lets me stream my PC to my TV without the need for cables. This steam box is pretty dumb, one of Valves first big missteps in a long while.

#29 Posted by posh (473 posts) -

I hope the actual steambox is not this, or if it is it's cheaper. I have a mac and play a bunch of games on it but nowhere near as much as I'd like, and I'm not willing to buy a separate pc just for games so this is perfect for me. I want to get a steambox over whatever MS and Sony have to offer

#30 Posted by YoThatLimp (1897 posts) -

@brandonleedy said:

Would everyone pump their brakes? This article isn't saying that the pictured computer is a steambox or that it would retail at $1k. Valve invested in this company, companies invest all the time. A small modular PC makes sense for Valve to invest in, as they want to see improvements in the tech. In fact they're probably investing _because_ they see a 1K device and want to see it cheaper in the future. Also, if Valve were to make something like this, they have the clout/pull to promise bigger numbers, and higher production runs = cheaper prices per part at scale = cheaper price to the consumer. Sheesh, it's like you guys haven't gone through console development rumors before.

No matter how you slice it, it would still be a tiny, slow, expensive PC that would be hard and expensive to upgrade.

#31 Posted by BrianP (437 posts) -

No way this would cost 1000 bucks. I could see valve subsidizing the cost because it would get more people buying games on steam.

#32 Posted by gla55jAw (2687 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Wrong "its" at the end, Patrick.

Good catch.

#33 Posted by spookytapes (263 posts) -

I like that everyone here has already made their decision with almost 0% of the actual final info.

#34 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1560 posts) -

Here's the specs of the X7A model it's supposedly based on (full Kickstarter listing here). It's worth noting that the components that matter for games (CPU, CPU, RAM) are all part of a "processor board" -- this doesn't appear to be upgradeable in the way that a lot of PC gamers might want.

#35 Posted by Deathpooky (1385 posts) -

Still waiting on specs and price. I'm all in favor of a SteamBox in theory as I figure out what to get from the grab bag of console and PC options at the end of the year, but if it's as much as $1000 it's going to be hard to compete with building my own SteamBox over buying this.

#36 Posted by mustachioeugene (505 posts) -

@MeatSim said:

Finally a computer for Reducto.

Nicely played, I tip my hat to you sir.

#37 Posted by benpursley27 (26 posts) -

@CaLe said:

@DoctorWelch said:

Using the word "Infamous" incorrectly really annoys me.

Are you saying Jesse James and the Steam Box have nothing in common?

Maybe Patrick can see into the future, a future where the "Steam Box" is a miserable failure and his description is apt.

#38 Posted by Trilogy (2648 posts) -

NINE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE US DOLLARS.

#40 Edited by Elwoodan (807 posts) -

it pretty obvious that valve is looking to further this technology, not suddenly put out a 1,000$ steambox. With powerful backing Xi3 can focus on making cheaper, more efficient designs.

EDIT: also, hopefully, this is actually for their crazy wearable computer ideas, the stuff IS small and modular...

#41 Posted by bkbroiler (1618 posts) -

@Kidavenger said:

@bkbroiler said:

@46464646 said:

Woah. Who is this for exactly? I'm sure I'm missing some crucial piece of information but...

People who want to have a console box that will run Steam games, and won't be outdated in a few years because it can be easily upgraded. Supposedly.

Exactly how is that going to be easily upgraded?

Who is going to pay $1000 for a substandard living room console?

This thing misses the mark in so many ways...

Well, since it's modular, I assume you just snap in new componants and bam, you have a better graphics card, CPU, bigger HD, etc.

#42 Posted by Rothbart (348 posts) -

As somebody whose main gaming console has been a MacBook Pro for the last two years, this device seems to perfectly fit my needs as something portable and easy to use with the capability to interface with many other devices. I've got no idea how to upgrade or maintain a traditional tower computer in any case, so something small like this seems right up my alley.

#43 Posted by Jackel2072 (2248 posts) -

The jury is still out on this, maybe with a bit more info things will start to come together a bit more. But as of right now this thing is starting to sound a bit like the 3DO. But that's a problem with open source. It allows any idiot to build a system for you and flood the market with really shitty products look at android.

#44 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2666 posts) -

Open box...additional modules to add = its a PC.

At the end of the day this seems like a weird thing to push 'as anything other' then a fancy cased PC. The whole concept of Steambox seems weird...just call it a PC...oh sure that makes it sound dull but that's what it is.

There is nothing wrong with this Xi3 box, but people need to remember that your steam box and someone else's steam box will be different...and that difference has just as many advantages as disadvantages. There are reasons why closed boxes work they way they do, why that business model exists. And there are reason why open architecture of the PC works, but they don't blend very well.

#45 Posted by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

Very intrigued by these Steam box potential ideas. If they can put together a pint sized PC that is easy to connect to my tv and is still reasonably upgradeable over time I am definitely interested. For me, money isn't so much the issue as convenience. Make a way for me not to have to run wires around the apartment, I'm in.

#46 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

I still reckon this will just be a box to stream your games to your TV with some kind of USB wireless device and will have enough beef in it for Youtube, Netflix etc.

#47 Posted by Phished0ne (2493 posts) -

I dont know what valve is thinking, they are gonna have to make this product a LOT cheaper for it to be valid in the market, and i just dont see it being possible.

Even with the pricing changes that come with mass producing and being valve(a company probably willing to take a loss) i dont see it working. You arent going to pull in console kids(for lack of a better term) with a modular computer. The reason people buy consoles is because they dont want to fiddle with parts, they just want a box that plays games. The people with computers for the most part dont care, they either get a big-ass monitor(ala Jeff) or deal with fan noise and put their computer near their television.

Although, I guess it makes sense to invest in fledgling companies instead of partnering with already established places, you serve to gain more, but you also serve to lose more. I dig that valve is ready and willing to take that risk, and its great that there is a game company investing heavily in future hardware development, but i cant help but feel this steam box idea is already a lost cause.

#48 Posted by RoyCampbell (1096 posts) -
@Trilogy said:

NINE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE US DOLLARS.

It's Ridge Racer!
#49 Edited by Phished0ne (2493 posts) -

@HerbieBug said:

Very intrigued by these Steam box potential ideas. If they can put together a pint sized PC that is easy to connect to my tv and is still reasonably upgradeable over time I am definitely interested. For me, money isn't so much the issue as convenience. Make a way for me not to have to run wires around the apartment, I'm in.

I really hate to sound like a shill here. But Alienware has a great little box.

http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-x51/pd.aspx

Its about 13 inches tall and 3 inches wide. It would slide in quite well next to a large screen in an entertainment center. Actually the AW website had promotional photos of it near a television a while back when they first announced it. Honestly i kinda assumed Valve was just going to pay AW to start slapping the steam logo on those bad-boys and selling them to market as a steam box. But it looks like they are going in a different direction.

#50 Posted by facetheglue (3 posts) -

Not ready to make a decision on it yet but I do like the design. Want to see what it can do.

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