First Steam Box goes up for pre-order

Finally you can throw your money at the future of gaming

Steam Box Piston

While it isn't quite the official Valve Steam Box we're all waiting for, Xi3's Piston Steam Box has become the first third-party offering available for pre-order.

Valve has helped finance Xi3's device, which was shown off at CES 2013 and is wowing those lucky enough to be at the SXSW game expo.

The price of the console comes in at $1000 (around £670, AUS$977) though if US customers pre-order before March 17, Xi3 will shave off $100 (£67, AUS $97). However, the box won't be arriving in buyers' hands until late this year, which feels a little too far off.

The Piston comes packing a 3.2GHz AMD Quad Core A10 processor and 8GB of RAM. Its 128GB SSD can also be upgraded to 256GB for $340 (£228, AUS$332) or 512GB for $750 (£500, AUS$732).

Getting the big picture

Gunning for a place somewhere between your PC and home console, the Steam Box approach is expected to make big waves in the gaming world, with its Big Picture mode turning the minute PC into a living room console dream.

Hardware giant MSI's associate manager Alex Chang is one of those singing the game-changing hybrid's praises.

"Having a Steam Box is one way of expanding the PC landscape," he told Gaming Blend.

"It's kind of expanding the PC landscape in terms of slowly pushing the gap between the average console users that may not ever want to touch a PC versus some of the hardcore PC gamers that will never want to touch a console. It's definitely exciting. "

Gabing on

With pre-orders only open in the United States for now, whether the console killer will make it to the UK and beyond is still up for debate.

GameStop told us that its stores in Ireland are currently taking pre-orders for Valve's official Steam Box, although it does expect its British stores to start doing the same very soon. No word yet on which high street retailers will be stocking the unofficial models like the Xi3 Piston, though.

With the Windows-8-tablet-turned-gaming-machine Razer Edge also on its way, a new era of PC gaming seems to be within touching distance.

We expect to see some more unofficial Steam Boxes ahead of Valve's household model, which will itself launch later this year. Valve's main man Gabe Newell recently said that test versions would be available this summer.

A video trailer for the Piston has just gone live, giving the low-down on some of the impressive specs and possible chassis customizations. "Can your current console or gaming system keep pace?" it asks. Gulp.

Via Slashgear