When a gaming rig is mentioned, one usually thinks of a large hulking PC with a sometimes-elaborate water cooling system, major-league power supply and other intimidating internals. I mean, I would sure like to make another menacing tower that can only be moved via team-lift. However we are in an age where our electronics are getting smaller, lighter, thinner, and more compact. Those living in cramped or space-deprived conditions shouldn’t have to miss out on modular gaming PC’s. Well the Xi3 Piston gaming console is the answer for those who want PC gaming power in a tiny frame. At CES Unveiled in NY and CES 2014 in Vegas, we got some hands-on time with this 4.2 by 3.6 by 3.6 inch pocket-Hercules.
So the Piston is small, but what is packed inside? In terms of raw power, it comes with an AMD R-464L Quad-Core CPU (3.2GHz) and a Radeon HD 7660G GPU sitting on a X7A Processor Board. That GPU is nothing to sniff at as it supports up to 3 simultaneous displays and handles a max resolution of 4096 x 2160. Xi3 also gives you 8GB’s of DDR3 memory, a wireless radio (802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth) and a 128 GB Solid State Drive, although the unit can support up to a TB of SSD storage. There are also more input/output ports in the Piston than one can comfortably mention in a paragraph, so I’ll list them:
- 4 eSATAp-III Combo
- 4 USB 3.0
- 4 USB 2.0
- 2 3.5mm Audio Jacks
- 1 SPDIF Optical Digital Audio Output
- 1 Ethernet
- 1 DisplayPort 1.2 / HDMI Combo Connector
- 2 Mini-DisplayPort 1.2
- 1 Power connector (12-24 Volts)
So with all of this cramped into a small container, you have to wonder how hot does the Piston get and how much power does it need? Well not to worry, as air is constantly passing through the holes on one end and out the holes on the other, actively exhausting heat. Not to mention that the unit won’t be generating much heat in general with it’s modest 40-50 watt pull. Need to upgrade? Since the Piston is modular, you can easy easily swap boards in and out of the unit without dealing with the rigors of manual labor.
Xi3 presents a pc gaming package meant to hold you off for years, saves on electricity and space, and is just overall an interesting approach to a console. At CES, we got to see and play with the different set-ups as seen here: one showing of the 4096 x 2160 resolution and one using the Oculus Rift.