Numerous Steam machines debuted at CES 2014, but Alienware's solution, the Alpha, stood out from the pack. It wasn't an underpowered or rebranded product, and it also wasn't sitting next to a four figure price tag. Alienware's little box looked to be the most viable looking console-sized and console-priced offering of the lot.
Alienware started shipping the Alpha late last year for $549 (the high-end version with a faster CPU, more RAM, and an SSD costs $849), but it recently cut that price down to $499. The Alpha is still more expensive than consoles, but also fairly cheap as far as gaming PCs go. Obviously it's not as powerful as the quintessential PC gaming tower, but it may give Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles a run for their money.
With a slightly overclocked 860M GPU based on Nvidia's GM107 chip (the same one that's found in Nvidia's 750 Ti desktop GPU), 4GB of RAM, and Intel's Core i3, the Alpha has all the makings of a good, entry level gaming PC. The 5400 RPM hard drive is a slight disappointment, and it's likely the source of the Alpha's occasionally long loading times. Otherwise, the rest of the components make for a surprisingly capable gaming PC given the Alpha's relatively low cost.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-4130T @2.9GHz|
|GPU||Modified Nvidia GTX 860M|
|Storage||500GB 5400 RPM 2.5" Hard drive, 6Gb/s|
The Alpha doesn't offer an experience that's as composed or seamless as a console, but Alienware has done a decent job of consolizing the PC, outpacing the competition in some meaningful ways. The UI creates the illusion that using a console, and it's a disappearing act that almost works 100% of the time. Though you can't tap into Origin or Uplay within the Alpha's console mode, you can if you boot into the Window's desktop. Though the Alpha isn't quite a console, it offers so much more as a PC than the Xbone One or PlayStation 4 ever could. Taking the Alpha out of the home theater and putting it on a desk with a mouse and keyboard open a wealth of functionality that cannot be overlooked. Apart from being able to upgrade the GPU and motherboard, you can do anything with the Alpha that you could with an equally powerful, traditional desktop computer.
With this in mind, the Alpha is a great value. It may be more expensive than consoles, but the difference of $100 is a small price to pay for a console-like gaming device that doubles as a Windows PC. If you like the convenience of the console experience, are interested in the hundreds of excellent games available on Steam, and could benefit from a new desktop PC, $500 is a very reasonable asking price. It may not blow consoles out of the water when it comes to performance, but it comes close. Manage your expectations accordingly and you won't be disappointed by the Alienware Alpha.More in www.gamespot.com »