Alienware Alpha Review: A Compact, Powerful Steam Machine

By Scorpus
Dec 26, 2014
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  1. alienware alpha review compact powerful steam machine

    In late 2013, Valve indicated that they’d launch a brand new hardware platform, known as Steam Machines, to rival the new generation of game consoles. But the expected mid-2014 launch date has come and gone, and thanks to several delays on Valve’s end, we’re not expected to see the first formal Steam Machines until sometime in 2015.

    That didn't stop a bunch of companies from launching their own console-like systems running Steam in 2014.

    The Alienware Alpha is a compact living room gaming PC that suits the gamer wanting better graphics, frame rates, and resolutions on a more consistent basis. On top of this, you get the advantages of gaming on a PC, such as a massive game library, cheaper games and the excellent modding community.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Addict Posts: 209   +82

    As a "console alternative" it looks really interesting, you will play almost anything at 1080p with over 30FPS and at least the same level of detail if not more.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  3. Footlong

    Footlong TS Rookie Posts: 33   +6

    Their GPU bothers me. You see console barely change specs during a life cycle (OC here, die shrink there) so this forces developers to do the most with what they have. PC's change a lot during the same time frame. Making a GPU almost pretty weak after some time. As it is now that GPU Alpha is offering is not such a big deal. Now picture this in 2 years? Unless DX12 and Mantle become a big thing I don't know about this kind of Steam Machine.

    Also I just played some Ubisoft games, my God...! Watch_Dogs can't run properly on HD 7950 Crossfire, FarCry 4 is in it's 1.6 version and I can't even mention Assassin's Creed V. Consoles have less buggy exp. since that is where the majority of players are.
  4. This review is spot on on how I feel about mine. Took a leap of faith when I bought it and am very satisfied with the purchase. Already added more ram and will be upgrading the HDD later, but it performs great out of the box. A great supplement to my desktop in the office especially already owning a large collection of steam games
    Jad Chaar and Julio Franco like this.
  5. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    I would think the 5400rpm HDD and single channel memory (4GB RAM SKU) are the main bottlenecks. An SSD would be nice, but what about a Hybrid drive, or 2x2GB Memory to keep that Dual Channel goodness?

    Anyways, this is a great first start to get people into PC gaming on the cheap. Way better than some steam box running Linux. I can't wait to see how the next version performs.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  6. So now PC game developers will develop PC games around the specs of this machine and forget about people that have just bought 980's.
  7. thegroveman

    thegroveman TS Rookie

    My question on these budget PC builds is always "it's great that it works for today's games. What about in 2-3 years?" In order to truly make a price parity argument, PC upgrades shouldn't be considered. The appeal of a console is a device that is supported with new games for 5 or more years-without being touched.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  8. Not THAT impressive in my opinion.

    1. A small Windows 8 PC with a Xbox 360 Controller isn't really a Steam Machine.

    2. Performance / Price: After more than a year since the current gen has been released, building a more powerful and more expensive PC System doesn't count as a big accomplishment. What's missing: WiFi, current gen controller, Blu-ray, audio headset.

    If you consider every little detail, it is not that easy to compete with mass production, optimized, subventioned consoles.
  9. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,890   +645

    WiFi is on there?
    You can get an Xbox One Controller with it but whats the point?
    It's a Steam machine, the whole point is that you download games etc... A bigger or space for more hard drives is probably a more reasonable complaint than no Blu-ray.
    No current or last gen consoles came with an audio headset.
  10. Namtrooper

    Namtrooper TS Rookie

    Shouldn't cloning the 5400rpm to an SSD alleviate most of the re-installation headaches?
  11. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,082   +331

    Wouldn't it be possible to just clone the drive on to an SSD or a faster 7200 rpm drive to avoid having to reinstall anything?
  12. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,784   +186

    Yes you could do that. That would require an external system, though it shouldn't be too hard. Assuming you don't only have a laptop.
  13. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar TS Evangelist Posts: 6,477   +965

    First of all Tim, great review. The video review was not too long yet packed a ton of information!

    This seems like a pretty good purchase IMO. I am usuall criticizing Alienware for their overpriced PCs but you get an OK value with this PC. If I bought one of these, I would instantly pop in an SSD and extra RAM. That said, $550 is fair vs. next gen consoles.
  14. dmckean44

    dmckean44 TS Rookie

    You should be able to stick the SSD into a USB caddy, clone the drive and then make the switch. Then afterwards move the old drive to the USB caddy and you have a drive for backups and storage.
    Lionvibez likes this.
  15. Thabiso

    Thabiso TS Member

    Oh my!!!

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