SteamOS Update Lets You Play With Xbox One Elite Controller And More

Some like PC, some like Console. People choose different platforms for different reasons, but the creators behind the ever popular PC gaming platform Steam came up with an idea to bridge the gap. Enter Steam machines, a combination of PC and Console, which meant that you could play games like you were on a console but you could upgrade it like a PC. So why not grab your controllers and play on the latest SteamOS version.

Steam OS is based on the popular operating system Linux. One of the main selling points behind Linux is that it is open source. Open source is when software is freely available in both the finished product and the code that builds it up. This means that you are able to see how it works and add functionality as you wish.

The latest update, 2.60, for SteamOS features not only security patches and updates to the Linux system as a whole but options for an extra controller. The Xbox One Elite controller features a variety of buttons, including some hidden underneath, where your hands naturally rest while holding a controller. If you feel up for giving the controller a spin on SteamOS you now can but sadly only if its wired.

If this wasn’t enough why not check out its new Bluetooth support. Being able to connect a range of devices through Bluetooth you could soon be playing with Playstation 4 controllers and headsets without a wire in sight!

While updates will help the platform, SteamOS recently took a hit when it was revealed that it played games worse than Windows 10 did. We might see that changing soon and with updates coming out more and more it might be worth retesting that comparison soon.

SteamOS Games Perform up to 58 Percent Worse Than Windows 10 Versions

Valve originally unveiled SteamOS to enhance the capabilities of hardware configurations and provide a more customizable user-interface. Gabe Newell criticized Windows 8 and famously said:

“Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”

Additionally, early indications were very positive and Valve managed to attain large performance increases on an OpenGL-powered Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2. However, according to Ars Technica, various developers claim Linux drivers and sub-par OpenGL tools are not adequate to match DirectX performance on Windows. Valve recently launched their new range of Steam Machines designed to run a gaming-optimized version of Linux. As a result, it seemed the opportune moment to test performance variation between the two operating systems. Ars Technica conducted a number of benchmarks and they make for some interesting reading:

Bizarrely, the source engine titles on Valve’s own operating system perform quite badly compared to the Windows 10 versions. This is surprising as you would expect Valve’s game engine to perform much better and even exceed the Windows 10 results.

Here we can see the results scale across each graphics preset, and SteamOS struggles to properly utilize the bench system’s GPU.

Once the resolution is increased, there isn’t a change to the overall pattern, and Windows 10 still manages to leap ahead by a significant margin. Why? As previously mentioned, drivers are just nowhere near good enough, and Linux still suffers from a complete lack of software support. On another note, as DirectX 12 games become the norm, I can only see the gap increasing. Perhaps the highly-anticipated Vulkan API can change things, but for the meantime SteamOS is not an operating system to use if you care about pure performance numbers.

Valve Removing Linux Games With SteamOS Compatibility Problems

Valve has reportedly been removing a number of Linux games which don’t meet their quality control requirements or suffer from compatibility problems on SteamOS. According to Gaming on Linux, the SteamOS icon was removed from titles including Ticket to Ride, Anodyne, Lume, WAKFU, Starbound, Evoland, Oniken, StarMade and Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten.

The developer of StarMade suggested this was due to the game requiring Java and should be rectified soon:

Although, other developers are completely unsure why the SteamOS icon has been removed. Possibly, Valve is testing each Linux game for features such as full-screen support and only approving those it deems acceptable. This could be a positive step to add polish to Linux games and make the end-user know every approved game is fully functional. On Windows, many of the older games struggle to work, yet Steam still sells them without any qualms.

To clarify, Valve are not removing games without the SteamOS logo from your library, but it’s certainly an unusual development. Gaming on Linux is a niche outlet but there is a lot of potential if the Vulkan API manages to outperform DirectX 12. The popularity of Windows 10 doesn’t make it seem likely though.

Have you tried SteamOS?

There Are Now Over 1500 Native Linux Games on Steam

Prior to the release of Windows 8, gaming on Linux predominately revolved around emulating core libraries through WINE and rarely featured stable games without configuration problems. Valve’s CEO, Gabe Newell was so incensed by Windows 8, and its lack of freedom, that he decided to launch Steam for Linux and create SteamOS, a gaming-optimized Linux distribution. Whether or not you agree with Gabe Newell’s analysis, it’s impossible to deny that Linux could become a viable gaming platform. Currently, there are over 1500 native games on Linux compared to 6464 on Windows while OS X users can choose between a library of 2323.

So what does this mean? Linux gaming is still on the rise, but it’s so small in comparison to Windows. Additionally, the majority of games are indie titles without any major graphical demands. There are exceptions such as Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Shadow Warrior and Metro Redux but the library is still far too limiting. Perhaps, things will change as Valve’s Steam Machines hit the market. Ideally, Valve should announce a number of Linux versions to coincide with their hardware launches.

Windows 10 has been a monumental success and this could impact on Valve’s Linux project. However, with concerns about privacy and a rumoured subscription model in the future, it seems like Linux will have a niche audience. Originally, Valve argued that Linux provided much better performance in their testing but this was done with DirectX 11 comparisons. Frankly, DirectX 11 is a horribly optimized API, and DirectX 12 should bring major improvements across the board. This raises the question, is there still a need for SteamOS anymore?

It’s certainly an interesting discussion and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Would you ditch Windows for Linux if all the games were playable?

Image courtesy of The New Boston.

Thank you Phoronix for providing us with this information.

Pricing and New Name Revealed for SteamOS Powered Handheld

Valve made a great choice when they allowed third party manufacturers to create SteamOS powered hardware, the same strategy behind Android and what most likely contributed to its huge market share. If Valve can pull off the same with SteamOS, that is something that only time will tell, but it looks great up until now.

We’ve previously seen a lot of known vendors presenting their SteamOS powered devices and we’ve also had a glimpse of the SteamBoy handheld gaming device. The SteamBoy is now officially unveiled under its new name, the portable Smach Zero Steam machine and it is going to start shipping by Q4 2016 with pre-orders starting November 10th, 2015.

The specifications aren’t anything that will blow us away, but it’s decent. You get a 5-inch touch screen with a 720p resolution, 4GB RAM, and 32GB storage space. It is also possible to expand the storage with the use of SD cards. It features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G LTE connectivity and also an HDMI output for gaming on a bigger screen. There wasn’t any word on what CPU it will use.

Smach, the company behind the device, is confident that it is enough to deliver a great experience in popular games such as Dota2, Half-Life 2, and Civilization V. I question the last one, especially in a late-game on a huge map full of cities and land improvements.

The good news is the price and the Smach Zero can be pre-ordered through the company’s website for $299, but not until November 10th. That is about the price of a “normal” smartphone – and it’s pretty much just that, except that it’s loaded with SteamOS and has the added controls on each side.

Thank You UberGizmo for providing us with this information

Early Bird Steam Hardware Pre-orders All Sold Out

Those looking to get some Steam hardware early are out of luck. Valve has announced that all the Steam hardware for the “get it early” offer with delivery set for October 16 have sold out. Any orders from today onwards for the Steam Controller and Steam Link will ship nearly a month later with delivery on November 10th.

Pre-orders of Steam Machines, custom PCs with the Linux-based SteamOS, have also sold out from most vendors. Again, the delivery date from the likes of Alienware has shifted from October 16th to November 10th. This shortage though is less pressing as SteamOS is available to download and install on any PC really. Some Steam Machine partners also have Windows versions of the same machine so it’s not much effort to simply order one of those and install SteamOS yourself.

No numbers have been given as to how much hardware Valve has sold so far. Given the delivery date has just been pushed back by less than a month, there likely is decent amounts of stock ready for wider availability on November 10th. It will be interesting to see how Valve does on their first foray into the hardware realm, which unlike the digital marketplace, has limited supply.

CryEngine Gets Support for Linux and SteamOS

It seems that the recent shift in the game engine market strategy is now forcing everyone licensing their own engines to comply with the times. CryTek is known for its CryEngine development platform and we all know the Crysis titles. However, the CryEngine is also licensed to other developers who want to make their games based on the latter engine.

Up until now, the CryEngine was focusing only on the Windows operating system and DirectX. But as times change and competition grows stronger, the company made a few changes. They announced that starting with CryEngine 3.8.1, developers can now ship their titles for the Linux operating system, as well as the upcoming SteamOS.

However, developers still need to do a bit of work to get them to work on the Linux OS. But this marks the beginning of a whole new CryEngine and future AAA graphics for Linux. In addition to the latter, OpenGL support will not necessarily restrict titles to be shipped for just Linux and SteamOS. We could even see support for Mac, Android, PlayStation and possibly even Nintendo.

In the end, a lot of support is now offered in engines to help developers port games. While we won’t see the same support in in-house engines, publicly available game engines such as CryEngine, Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 seem to start making cross-platform development a priority.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Should You Build Your Own Steambox?

Introduction


Steambox has been a topic of much debate in the PC gaming community, promising a more gamer-centric PC experience, removing the need for the Windows operating system by providing you with a free alternative, while also bringing PC gaming into the casual mainstream, much like consoles, only a lot better.

It’s been an ambition of mine to buy a Steambox, simply because “why not” and while that’s all good and well, there’s not really a lot of options out there that I’m happy with. A few system integrators have released beta-systems, but what I would like to call a “final product” still seems to be sitting on the horizon. What if we could simply do it ourselves? A Steambox is just a PC with a fancy Linux Distro installed on it anyway…

I’ve picked out a few choice components to build my own Steambox, nothing crazy expensive or overly powerful, but more than enough to provide good 1080p gaming performance. I’m sure many of you love to bash consoles from time to time, so we’ll just round that up with “it’s going to be more powerful than consoles.”

New Asus RG6 ROG Console is Powered by Intel Broadwell and GTX 960M

If you wanted a powerhouse console for your living room, Asus just came forth with a solution. The company just announced its RG6 ROG console-inspired gaming PC, featuring a minimalistic and extremely silent design.

The RG6 looks to maintain the company’s Republic of Gamers design and is powered by an Intel i5 5th Gen Broadwell CPU, 8GB DDR3L which is also upgradeable to 16GB, Nvidia’s GTX 960M graphics solution and even comes with an optional SSD slot. The company looks to have added one of their ROG M801 keyboard and Sica RA01 mouse in the bundle too.

Aside from its ultra-silent operating environment, outputting 20dB in idle and 28 dB in full-load, the RG6 comes with a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Intel Gigabit Ethernet with GameFirst III that aims to provide lag-free connectivity. In terms of connectivity, the gaming-PC comes with a HDMI and DisplayPort output, four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports that also feature a USB Charger option.

When it comes to the audio, the RG6 comes with the SupremeFX ELNA audio capacitors that offer to connect you system with either the HDMI or S/PDIF optical port. In addition to the latter, audio jacks are available on both the front and back of the console. Its Sonic Studio also aims to help you personalize sound modes and te equalizer.

Asus’ RG6 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and has support for Steam Big Picture Launcher out-of-the-box, even if you choose to use just a game-pad controller, giving user an additional option to add the SteamOS just as easily after the console is officially launched.

Other features include AI Suite III that lets you customize the system’s settings, a 100GB ASUS WebStorage for a year, the HomeCloud that lets you access the console remotely and a one-year license for Kaspersky’s antivirus software.

There is still no word on pricing or availability for the Asus RG6, but more news on this matter is bound to be released soon.

Images courtesy of ASUS ROG

ZOTAC Announces SN970 Steam Machine

Zotac has shown off their new Steam Machine, and it looks great. The SN970 is marketed with some strong words, promising to rewrite the definition of PC gaming. These words have been uttered before, but SteamOS might actually be a platform that can either pull it off or at least get it started in the right direction.

Inside it packs a 6th Generation Intel Processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM. It has 8GB DDR3 SODIMM, a 2.5-inch 1TB HDD and a 64GB M.2 SSD, but these can of course be upgraded.

The system comes with SteamOS preloaded  and the graphics card provides 4x HDMI 2.0 ports with support for 4K UHD at 60Hz as well as 2D/3D NVIDIA Surround. It also has a HDMI-in for pass-through signals and dual Gigabit Ethernet to make sure you have the best transfer speeds possible.

The Zotac SN970 has plenty of USB connectors with two front and two rear USB 3.0 and two rear USB 2.0 ports. Card reader, mini DisplayPort, ac WiFi, and Audio jacks are also present to make the whole thing complete.

That kind of hardware doesn’t come cheap, but it still seems reasonable with a $999 price tag. The availability is set for November, so we need to have patience for a while longer.

Thanks to ZOTAC for providing us with this information

Hide Your Wallets, SteamOS Celebrates with Big Sale

Valve and STEAM are celebrating both the most popular game titles of the year as well as their own SteamOS through a big sale, or as some people call it: Time to empty their wallets.

All the games on sale this time around are either already available on SteamOS or will be very soon. There is something for almost every kind of gamer and there are big savings to be had: up to 75%.

Get your speed freak on in GRID, your inner dictator in Tropico, take over worlds in Planetary Annihilation, or immerse yourself in the RPG depth with The Witcher. The choice is yours and these are just a couple of the many games on sale this time around.

Thanks to STEAM for providing us with this information.

iBuyPower SBX Gaming PC Revealed

PC gaming has been pushing hard to break away from the desk in recent years, with features such as Steam Big Picture mode, In-Home Streaming, HTPC style gaming rigs and more. More recently we’ve had talks of SteamBox and SteamOS, gaming PCs that have been created with the intention of being placed next to your TV, not your desk.

The new iBuyPower SBX system is one of the new generation of living room focused gaming PCs, designed to look like a sleek set-top box style unit, it should blend in with your PVR, AV receiver and even your consoles on your TV stand. The system is powered by multi-core AMD processors and the latest Radeon HD graphics; with four configurations available for pre-order.

“What we really wanted to do was make an impact in the living room. We wanted to really show the world that the power of desktop gaming machine can be experienced in the living room in a totally seamless way,” said Darren Su, Co-founder and VP of iBUYPOWER. “All preconceptions of what entertainment in the living room should and can be, are out the door.”

Every iBuyPower SBX system comes bundled with an Xbox controller, perfect for putting your feet up and enjoy a few games. The hardware of the system has been tweaked to reduce the usual PC overheads, giving as much performance as possible to make this a more efficient gaming rig, and you can even boot the SBX directly into Steam Big Picture mode; allowing you to leave the Windows Desktop out of the equation entirely. The systems are also fully compatible with SteamOS.

The SBX is available for pre-order now, with prices starting at $399. Orders are expected to start shipping in 3 weeks.

Thank you iBuyPower for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of iBuyPower.

Valve Adds Native Music Player in Steam Music, To Be Available in Big Picture Soon

SteamOS has not been so user-friendly of late, not to mention the major flaws it has. From not being bootable on DVD, to nuking hard drives clearly mentioned with the ‘install at your own risk’ warning, it did not look so amazing, not to mention worthy of giving it a try.

A recent announcement states that Valve added Steam Music features in the operating system, which basically searches for your music content on the hard drive and lets you play it inside the Steam interface. It is said that there is also a version in Steam’s Big Picture Mode as well to give it a try if you are too afraid of installing the SteamOS.

According to Valve, randomly picked beta participants will soon get early access to the Steam Music player. The company also confirms that a desktop version of the player is ‘en route’ as well. There is no news about implementing any multimedia offerings such as the ability to buy songs, manage and integrate online accounts such as Google Play, or other features you see on modern music players nowadays.

It may not look much at first, but keep in mind that it is still a beta version, and as Valve states on their intro page, the next steps in the Steam Player evolution will be mainly decided by the early beta feedbacks given.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Endgadget

New SteamOS To Have non-UEFI, Dual-Boot Support And Other Features

The first SteamOS product that Valve announced was definitely a beta project. It was not properly tested, there were a lot of issues installing it, and limited configuration also made it impossible for a variety of devices to support it. On top of that, it was not dual-boot compatible.

People who wanted to test the operating system had only two complex installation methods, one with the help of CloneZilla, and the other with a Debian Installer. However, both processes erased all data on the drive, which was not a good thing if it was your everyday PC or laptop. Also, a UEFI compatible motherboard was needed to operate properly, something only two or three years old, and also excludes AMD and Intel GPU support. And all of that on top of a 4 GB or more RAM requirement, with over 500 GB hard drive and a x64 Intel and AMD compatible CPU. A lot of work just to try something out, don’t you think?

However, Valve has reportedly released a newer version which highlights some changes to make it easier for people who want to try it out. The key highlighted features consist of adding support for non-UEFI motherboards, DVD install, custom partitions in Expert mode (however NTFS partitions cannot be resized), and a dual-boot option in Expert mode. Still, people who want to try it out should not go heads on and install it without making a backup first. There is still the possibility of the operating system install process to erase all data, and that’s why they also state “…at your own risk” between the lines.

Nonetheless, those of you who have an older laptop or PC and want to try it out, you can head over to the Steam Universe thread and download the latest copy of the SteamOS.

Thank you PC Perspective for providing us with this information

SteamBox Tear Down In YouTube Walkthrough Video

SteamBox’s have been in users hands for almost a week now and we’ve been loving all the gameplay videos, OS walkthrough and tear downs that users have been uploading to YouTube. One of our favourite so far is this one below, where the user dismantles the system to show us all of the interior components.

As you can see we’ve got a pretty standard HTPC setup, there is an SFX SPU in there, Nvidia graphics card, low profile CPU cooler, Asus motherboard and some pretty neat and tidy cable routing too. The hard drive is easily removed, but there is also room for a 2nd hard drive in the system should users want to upgrade storage.

This is exactly what Valve want people to do, hack it, tweak it, upgrade it, strip it down. Some users have installed Windows, made Hackintosh systems, dual booted, over clocked and more! And I can’t think of a better way to find out the limitations of your hardware than to give them to 300 eager PC gamers who simply cannot resist taking the thing apart.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/xVkas2E3NAg[/youtube]

Thank you PC Gamer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of PC Gamer.

 

Beta Tester Gives SteamBox Video Walkthrough

It’s only been in the hands of the beta testers a couple of days, but initial impressions of SteamOS and the SteamBox are pretty good. Some users have been opening up the console to give a look at the internals, we’ve seen gameplay videos and more, but this user has been nice enough to give us a proper tour of the OS and functionality of the console… he also has a dog chewing a squeaky toy in the background by the sounds of it.

There are a lot of similarities to Steams Big Screen mode, but without the added layer of Windows, it’s quick and easy to use and offers a great alternative to those who simply want to game on their rigs, or a cheaper alternative (in terms of the OS) compared to buying a 2nd copy of Windows for your living room gaming system.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/DZ0WuFcUPCg[/youtube]

Personally I would rather build my own SteamBox, any tech minded gamer knows they’re just pre-built PC’s with the OS pre-installed, any PC can be a SteamBox. I do however think that Valve are onto something and this could be one of the biggest changes in the PC gaming market in many years. Will you be buying or building a SteamBox? Or are you only interesting in SteamOS?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/IC2go6LiDco[/youtube]

Thank you Pocket Lint for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Pocket Lint.

SteamBox Unboxed! [video]

The first Steam machines have been dispatched to 300 lucky beta testers (Damn you, you lucky buggers!) And while we would love to get our hands on one for testing, we can at least enjoy a sweet taste of what Valve have to offer thanks to this unboxing video.

The user in the video shows the special crate that the system are shipped in, as well as the hardware that comes bundled with it. As many of you know, the SteamBox is just a PC with a custom form factor, designed to run SteamOS and allow people a more attractive method of playing PC games in their living room, or just on the big screen, an alternative to Windows based PC gaming.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/jXCbdn00pKY[/youtube]

Will you be saving up for a SteamBox next year, or do you plan on building your own?

Thank you Dualshockers for providing us with this information.

Minimum Requirements For Steam OS Detailed

A recent FAQ posted by Valve answered many questions about the SteamOS that was released yesterday and while downloading the operating system has been tricky for some due to high demand, we can at least take a look at the minimum system requirements as those of you who are planning to build your own SteamBox can’t get started without them!

It comes as no surprise that the SteamOS doesn’t need a hefty gaming rig to run it, just like Linux it doesn’t take much to run and not every game on the Steam store is a graphical powerhouse, there are loads of indie titles that would run nicely on a PC with the power of a calculator.

  • Intel of AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

It really is as straight forward as that! And I bet more than a few of our readers have systems like this tucked away in their garage, so if you’ve been eager to try out SteamOS, it doesn’t take a lot to get going. Of course, there are some benefits to installing the OS on an epic gaming rig too, not all the games will run on these system requirements, obviously.

Thank you Gamerevolution for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gamerevolution.

SteamOS Being Released For Download Today!

As of today (December 13th 2013) you will be able to download SteamOS and have a tinker around with it. However, it is early days and Valve have warned that only experienced Linux users should bother, as at the moment it is no doubt rough around the edges, not the smooth and usable end product that will be released some time next year.

Of course I doubt that will stop many people, but this really is the first steps for the new OS, it will take time for more developers to port titles to it, Valve need to work out bugs, features will be missing, functionality will no doubt be poor right now too, so don’t be quick to judge its performance just yet.

Valve says that the operating system “combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen” and it is great to see one of this years coolest announcements coming into reality, now all we need are some kickass steam boxes and Valve will be well on their way to world domination.

The OS isn’t available just yet, but keep an eye on the official site for more information later today – store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamOS/

Thank you Videogamer for providing us with this information.

Nvidia Release Major Linux Update, Preparing For SteamOS Arrival

The relationship between Nvidia and Linux has come a long way since Linux founder Linus Torvald famously said “So Nvidia, F**k you” back in mid 2012. Linus Torvald’s response was due to the fact that Nvidia was unwilling to work properly with the Linux community despite it becoming more dependent on it. Since that statement Nvidia has become even more dependent on the Linux community – pushing ahead with Tegra for Linux-powered Android devices (such as Nvidia’s Shield and Tegra Note) and partnering up with Valve to launch the Linux-based SteamOS. Whether Nvidia has successfully engaged with the Linux community is another matter for discussion but what they have done is release a brand new driver package for Linux based operating systems ahead of the SteamOS launch.

Nvidia’s 331.20 drivers include a wide variety of bug fixes and new features for Linux based operating systems. The new package supports Linux 32 bit, Linux 64 bit, FreeBSD, Solaris and ARM operating systems. There is added support for Nvidia OpenGL based Framebuffer Capture (NvFBCOpenGL) too. You can check out the full change log right here and if you’re interested in getting the latest Nvidia Linux drivers for your Linux distribution then see here for the appropriate drivers.

Image courtesy of Nvidia

iConsole.tv To Support Steam OS Its Android Interface

iConsole.tv was already shaping up to be a strange and wonderful idea, but now the developers of the hardware are saying that it will also be able to support Valves upcoming SteamOS, without interfering with its own operating systems.

iConsole.tv mixes linux and Android to create a gaming PC unlike any other, one that doen’t rely on Windows and that runs an interface that will be more comfortable for the mobile generation than the Microsoft generation. Now the company is saying that the system will be able to boot up SteamOS as if it were an app!

This means that users will no have to partition and drives, no hacks or mods to their firmware or hardware, effectively running SteamOS in a virtual console of sorts. We’re not sure how well this will work in reality, but I’m guessing the answer is pretty well, otherwise the company behind iConsole.tv wouldn’t have much to brag about.

The question is, will anyone actually want to use the iConsole.tv in the first place, or is it just too different from what everyone else is doing to be relevant? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of iconsole.tv.

Battlefield Director Says Linux Only Needs One Killer Game

Linux is about to become bigger than ever, with SteamOS set to tip the balance of power in the PC gaming community with the offer of a rock solid distribution platform, a multitude of home entertainment features and support from an existing library of Linux Steam games, not to mention the fact that the whole thing will be free to download and install, making the option of a 2nd gaming PC a Windows licence free option.

Battlefield developer DICE know there is big change on the way and they don’t want to be left behind the pack on this one. Stating that Linux will only take one “killer” game to explode into mainstream gaming, and DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson said himself that “We [DICE] strongly want to get into Linux for a reason. It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy — usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it] — it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there.”

He has a point and this is really hot stuff to hear from such a big developer, this could be the first indication that Linux may be getting something big like Battlefield 4 and if this is true, you can back your backside that other developers such as Ubisoft and Activision will follow suit for fear of letting their rivals get all the glory.

“Basically for different ways of accessing customers and giving them possibilities of play, I think it is super exciting. The only thing I know is that from five or ten years from now gaming and especially how you consume it won’t look like it does today. I do think with streaming services and new input devices and so on, it wouldn’t surprise me if there is less need of hardware and more on demand gaming experience.” said Lars while speaking with Polygon about the SteamBox and SteamOS announcements.

SteamBox is going into Beta soon, SteamOS is right around the corner, all while we sit on the edge of a new generation of consoles, next year is shaping up to be a huge deal for gamers!

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information.

Xi3’s $999 Piston “Steam Box” Gaming PC Is Overpriced Junk

Controversial title I know, but let’s face it if people haven’t seen passed the façade of the Xi3 Piston yet then people clearly aren’t looking closely enough – it is nothing more than overpriced hardware. There are strong opinions in this article so if you do not like those then you may not want to read on. The Piston from Xi3 was officially unveiled yesterday and the new “Steam OS ready” gaming PC (not endorsed by Valve/Steam in any way, and rightly so) will come to market at $999 in a rather nifty looking form factor, pictured above. However, when we start to look at the internals of the Piston this is where things get a bit messy. Xi3 have been very “mysterious” with their specifications (read: withholding information) claiming the following specifications for the “entry” model that costs $999:

  • Quad core x86 processor running at up to 3.2GHz
  • 384 discrete class graphics cores
  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 128GB SSD

So that all looks well and good but then you start to consider, hang on a minute, I am paying $999 for this so is THAT really worth my money? Well actually – it isn’t. While the vast majority of media outlets have already been butt-kissing Xi3’s Piston for its innovative design, Forbes decided to dig a little deeper. After speaking with AMD they confirmed that the heart of the Xi3 Piston is the AMD R464L APU which has four cores running at 2.3GHz (with a 3.2GHz turbo mode) and AMD Radeon HD 7660G graphics (which has 384 cores based on the VLIW4 architecture of the HD 6000 series clocked at 496~685MHz putting this GPU somewhere between a HD 6450 and HD 6570 in terms of performance). Of course the APU itself is a great part, but it only retails for around $150 and is an AMD embedded APU meant for industrial uses – its closest consumer equivalent is the A10-4600M APU.

If we take the cost of the main components listed in the specifications it is something like $150 for the R464L APU, $80 for 8GB of DDR3 and $130 for a 128GB SSD. I make that $360 for the core components based on RETAIL pricing, if we consider Xi3 will get TRADE prices then it’s probably more like $280~300 for them. Of course there is more to the system than that – you’ve got the chassis, power supply and the motherboard but they aren’t exactly going to be expensive parts either – you’re talking no more than a 200W PSU is needed, the motherboard will be very minimalistic and the case is pretty small too. All in all it seems likely the Xi3 Piston comes in at under $400~500 to build. Of course you’d expect a profit margin to be included but not this much, this is ludicrous.

Xi3 have made some pretty bold claims about the Piston’s performance, all of which are pretty much unfounded. Below is an example of the performance of the HD 7660G graphics in modern games from Notebook Check. As you can see – it is unplayable in them all. Sure within the SteamOS the graphics will be more efficient, but even if the performance doubled (which it won’t) then every game is still unplayable except at the lowest settings where you will be able to scrape 30 FPS.

Of course we will have to wait for the first benchmarks and reviews to see what the performance is actually like – it is possible Xi3 can pull something out of the bag with the Piston if they’ve got the SteamOS optimisations absolutely spot on. Even if they manage that, this is still just a small case filled with entry level notebook hardware and an SSD. If you were looking for a game-changing “SteamBox” then sorry guys, you won’t find that with Xi3’s newest creation – the Piston. You could build a better system yourself for $400.

Rant over.

(Oh and after all that if you still want to buy the Xi3 Piston then you can do so right here.)

Image #1 courtesy of Xi3, Image #2 courtesy of Notebook Check

Valve Announce SteamOS, Two More Announcement Still To Come

Valve have dropped one of the biggest gaming related announcements of the year, Steam OS, a dedicated Linux distro that is razor focused on gaming and entertainment and something that could revolutionise PC gaming almost overnight.

Linux might not have the widest gaming support, or even the widest driver support, but it is extremely flexible and for the most part it is also open source and free. While many are waiting for a Steam Box announcement, I have my doubts that their will ever be a steam box, now with a Steam OS we can turn ANY system into a Steam Box and what’s more it comes with some features that we didn’t expect to see.

While it will allow for Linux games to be played, you can also stream your Windows PC games from your main gaming rig to your Steam OS system, so the option of a low powered rig under your TV running Steam OS, that is still able to play games from your upstairs SLI rig has just become real. Steam are also pushing this operating system as a multimedia platform and to my mind its already sounding like XBMCbuntu, but with a gaming side to it.

It’s certainly shaping up to be something epic and you can check out the full details here. Just remember, Valve have three big announcements this week, Steam OS was just the first. Could we hear about a SteamBox, or maybe even Half Life 3…. ok maybe not that last one, but we can hope!

Thank you Valve for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Valve.