As the launch of most Steam Machines has been postponed for 2015, Alienware has decided to take the matter into its own hands and launch Alpha, the first rig meant to run SteamOS.
Alienware desktops and laptops have always come at a premium, but in most cases, the price was somehow justified by the otherworldly design and the extreme performance. This doesn’t really apply with the Alpha, a consolized gaming PC with a simple and beautiful design, but with mediocre specs. Dell must have become too full of themselves if they’re even thinking that such a device could sell well, given its capabilities.
As any custom built machine, the Alienware Alpha cannot be upgraded. Add to that the fact that it comes with an Xbox controller (why not a Steam one?) and you begin to wonder what /r/PCMasterRace would have to say about the whole deal. Even if it was conceived as a console, the cheapest configuration is more expensive than the PS4, so one has to wonder what the selling point of this Steam Machine really is.
The cheapest Alpha costs $549 and gets you a dual-core Intel Core i3-4130T CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5, 4GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 500GB HD. At the other end of the spectrum is a $899 quad-core Intel Core i7-4765T CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5, 8GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 2TB HDD. All configurations come with Windows 8.1, and it’s at the users choice to install SteamOS or not. Needless to say, delivering these Steam Machines without an operating system, or with the free SteamOS installed by default, would’ve brought down the price a little bit. Even so, the Alienware Alpha is too expensive for what it offers, and gamers are better off building their own rigs and installing SteamOS on them.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity is one of the games that won’t run properly on the cheapest Alpha, as it requires a quad-core processor and a bit more than the 4GB of RAM the Steam Machine is equipped with. Also, people buying this (if any) shouldn’t set their expectations too high in terms of performance, as the included GTX 860M isn’t really spectacular. All in all, the Alienware Alpha is a disappointment targeted at wealthy gamers who only care about the looks of their devices, and not that much about what their gaming rigs are made of.
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