First Steam Box Pre-Order Clocks In At a Whopping $999

I wrote an article about spending the summer with the Steam Box a few weeks ago. ...But maybe, in fact, you shouldn't.
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Xi3 opened preorders for its Steam-Powered gaming platform today, and the price tag has already shocked and awed. For $999, you can grab what essentially amounts to a gaming PC with a 128GB SSD, a 3.2GHz quad-core AMD R464 processor with integrated graphics, and 8GB of RAM. Customers who pre-order can upgrade the solid slate drive to 256GB or 512GB, but opting for the 512GB drive nearly doubles the Piston’s price, adding an additional $750 to the cost of the device.

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The Piston is (obviously) not priced to compete with other consoles. In the current generation, it blows the top-priced console out of the water (the Wii U at $350). Yeah, the Piston is the first Steam Box we’ve seen (let alone had the option to price), and it certainly ranks up their with high-end gaming PCs, but it begs the question, though: is a grand a suitable price for the PC console? Let’s narrow it down:

  • Could you assemble your own gaming PC for less than a grand with better hardware?
  • Would you be able to connect your device to a large flat screen monitor or television? If you’ve been living in the 21st century, most likely.
  • Would you be able to cram all of your components in a box as small as the Xi3? Maybe. (If you have tiny, tiny t-rex hands.)
  • Can you find a 4x4x4 case that has suitable room to mount any modern upper-tier graphics card? With a little diligence, quite possibly. 

Following this logic, the Piston’s only general advantage is that it can fit in small places. For most gamers, this is hardly incentive enough to drop $999 on a console that might be an upgrade from a PC already in the home–or one they’re planning to purchase. 

The real question here is: who’s going to spend a grand on gaming? For the most part, the answer is PC gamers. But most PC gamers are going to recognize that pre-ordering a $999 gaming platform that hasn’t even released GPU specs is a foolhardy decision. 

Xi3 is offering a $100 discount to pre-orders placed before March 17, which prices the Piston at $899. Even with the discount, I have to wonder: is it worth it?

Will you be pre-ordering a Piston console? Why or why not?

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HC Billings
HC Billings is an excellent gamer, acceptable writer, and laughable parkourist.