Alienware and Dell Unleash Their Alpha Steam ‘Without Steam’ Machine
Steam machines are coming and Alienware and Dell are set to bring people their first…kinda. Steam machines are the PC world’s answer to console built around the power of Steam’s Big Picture mode. This mode essentially optimizes PC hardware for use on TVs. Doing away with the monitors and playing on TVs like consoles do, Steam developed their answer for PC assemblers to develop Steam based gaming console/PCs with controller or keyboard based controls.
The Alpha is Alienware’s first gaming console. While it is not officially a Steam machine, it is set up to take advantage of Steam’s Big Picture mode. The only difference is that Alienware has it’s own custom UI rather than Steam’s OS and UI. The Alpha is configured and optimized to bring the graphical power of an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M with 2G of GDDR5 memory. The processors used are selectable between Intel’s 4th Generation i3, i5, and i7 chipsets. To help the performance of this powerful custom graphics card, there is room for up to 8G of DDR3 memory.
In comparison, the PS4 has 8GB of ‘unified’ GDDR5 RAM. This means that the PS4 shares its RAM between ALL of its resources along with a processor that is probably considered to be outdated with todays standards of processors.
The result of all this should be all of the latest games released for the PC at 1080p resolutions and the highest framerates without question. Today’s next gen consoles aren’t strong enough to provide all of today’s latest games in this fashion despite being the latest from Sony and Microsoft’s technology labs. Of course these consoles were built and set up years ago with hardware configurations that cannot compare with today’s latest PCs. That is what Alienware and Dell are banking on with their new ‘console’.
At the heart of the Alpha is their UI. Developed to not need a keyboard or mouse, it is a UI that Alienware hopes will appeal to gamers as it allows them to not only navigate the menus but also to be able to transition to regular PC usage on the Windows 8.1 OS. The controller provided is an Xbox 360 wireless controller to help take on the digital universe. The Alpha also boasts a 2TB harddrive which is significantly bigger than the PS4 and Xbox One.
These configurations could easily be priced with some of the latest gaming rigs on the market. Since they are optimized for gaming, it is interesting to see that these new Alphas start at $549. Alienware typically is on the expensive end of things but those looking for a gaming PC may finally have a viable answer from Alienware and Dell!
The Alienware Alpha is available to take home today from select Walmart and Fry’s locations, and gamers can order online today at Alienware.com and through select retailers including Amazon, Bestbuy.com, Fry’s Electronics, GameStop, NewEgg, SamsClub.com, TigerDirect and Walmart.