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CES 2014: Xi3 Modular Computing for Gaming — and Enterprise (analysis)

aNewDomain.net At last year’s CES, the term Steam Box grew in popularity — and intrigue. News and rumors around the online computer gaming platform ranged from more compatibility, cloud options and even its own operating system. Images of the Steam Box began popping up all over the web.

That’s one reasons why I am so intrigued with the small, uniquely-designed computer from Xi3, which I saw at at CES 2014. It’s good for gaming, sure, but it’s enterprise uses are myriad. Here’s my analysis.

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Image credit: Ant Pruitt for aNewDomain

I spent some time with Xi3 Chief Marketing Officer David Politis to look at just what else Xi3 has up its sleeve for consumer and enterprise customers.

The Xi3 is for sure one nifty modular computing device. You have three circuit boards. And the three boards interlock, giving you a computer tower that’s about the size of a grapefruit.

Impressive Power, More Impressive Power Consumption

The X-series modular computers are energy-efficient (30 watts of power) devices. That’s powerful enough to render video and industrial design images as a result of the impressive hardware wrapped into the design.

You get quad-core processing, 8GB of RAM and a fast SSD for storage. The X7A modular computer boasts those specs at $1,099. At the other end of the spectrum is the lower-end X5A model. At $539, it includes a lower clocked dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM.

Both offer plenty of connections, including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet and audio jacks.

The X7A allows for up to three display connections, including two mini display ports and a combo HDMI/display ports. I’m sure you all have heard of 4K resolution, right? Well, the X7A will display a max resolution of 4K. This shows how powerful the APU on the X7A really is — and in such a small, energy-efficient package.

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The size and power of these devices makes them a natural fit for your home office. You get a cleaner workstation area because of that.

And in the enterprise, that’s an advantage, too. What if a new APU or RAM spec is announced for your computer? The design is modular, so upgrading is easy. If you’re capable of linking a Lego brick, you’ll have no trouble building onto an Xi3 modular computer.

The great benefit here is that you’re able to use your current parts as credit towards any newer components you seek. Xi3 will then take your used product — as efficiency standards allow — and refurbish it for green retailing, execs told me.

Also from an enterprise standpoint, Xi3 offers server builds and data center technology. In the long run, that means an IT  sysadmin is able to utilize less rack space. And you’ll impress the heck out of your CFO with the amazingly low power bill she’ll see after you switch.

Check out this video below of a Xi3 server rack. We’re talking some massive computing power — with minimal power consumption.

Healthcare and IT have not seamlessly integrated recently largely due to the lackluster performance of the ACA. Xi3 has now positioned itself to work closely with medical professionals and hospitals to launch the Patient Room of the Future. Setting up secure connections and profiles that allow healthcare patients to communicate with healthcare providers is the objective.

And mounting the X7A to a television as a set top box allows for seamless video chatting over the television, tablet or any other computer. Rural healthcare is hard to come by in some instances. This technology will bridge the gap.

Better still, the X7A is OS agnostic, Politis tells me. Set this up with Windows or Linux, as you wish.

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Image credit: Mat Lee for aNewDomain

Gaming is the main thing people talk about with Xi3, but this little power-efficient device is sure to satisfy enterprise needs, too. And it does it with the environment in mind, too. Small, compact and efficient form factor with impressive tech specs. I’m impressed.

I’m Ant Pruitt and this is aNewDomain.net.

Based in Charlotte, NC, Ant Pruitt is an IT pro, a columnist and the podcast captain at aNewDomain.net. Look for his Smartphone Photographers Community and Yet Another Tech Show. Follow him @ihavnolyfe or on Google+ and email him at ant@anewdomain.net. See all Ant’s articles on aNewDomain by following this link here.

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