It’s a small Windows PC but it’s now called a PC gaming console because it has a controller.
There was so much buzz about the coming of the Steam Machines and then it all went rather flat when Valve decided to delay the release of their Steam Machine and controller until next year. PC manufacturers decided not to wait for Valve and the SteamOS to get their hardware out the door so Windows 8 suddenly became the OS of choice.
Alienware were on-board with the whole PC in the living room deal early on and now their Alienware Alpha hardware has shipped out to customers who pre-ordered the $549 USD boxes. So what do you get for the money?
The hardware comes with a 360 controller, it’s own UI for a “full console-based experience”, and they’re proud to point out that no mouse or keyboard is needed. Handy if you want to play games with little or no complexity.
Under the hood there’s a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M and Intel’s 4th generation core i3, i5 and i7 processors depending on model. There’s up to 8GBs of DDR3 memory, hard drive options up to 2TBs and the latest Intel Wireless 802.11ac adapters. This is all squeezed into a box that’s 2.5 inches tall and just under 8 inches in width.
Alienware has made sure the system is ready to go with the ability to boot right into Steam Big Picture and it’s also pre-loaded with a few games such as Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Awesomenauts, Magicka, Metro: Last Light, PAYDAY 2 and Strike Suit Zero. There’s also a few “exclusive demos” on top of what might already be in a gamer’s existing Steam library.
I’m still not sure who these are aimed at. Console gamers moving to the PC would probably be looking for something more flexible than the Alpha otherwise this would just be another console; albeit with a larger variety of games at a cheaper price. PC gamers might pick one up as an expensive living room novelty for TV gaming, and new video gamers would more than likely just pick up a console.