Alienware’s ‘Alpha’ Console Lets You Play PC Games on Your TV!!!

If you want a Steam Machine running Valve’s SteamOS that you can use with Valve’s Steam Controller, you’ll need to keep waiting until 2015. But thanks to some clever workarounds, Alienware’s first Steam box will be available by the end of this year.

The Alienware Alpha will use its own interface built on top of Windows 8.1 rather than Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS. But Steam is still the lifeblood of this system, as the small-footprint box will bring PC gaming to your HDTV using Steam’s “Big Picture” mode. The Alpha has an HDMI out port with 4K capabilities for compatible TVs and games, as well as an HDMI-in port with pass-through support.

While the Alpha UI runs on top of Windows, those Windows underpinnings will be invisible when the box is running in console mode. The Alpha UI looks and feels like a console, and it’s completely navigable with a game controller. As soon as you plug in a mouse, you can select a “Desktop Mode” that makes it act like a computer.

Size-wise, the Alienware Alpha splits the difference between a Roku box and a current-gen game console. But unlike the consoles it’s built to compete with, it has user-replaceable components—you can swap out and upgrade everything except the integrated GPU, a custom Nvidia “Maxwell” chip.

It’s also more like a PC in terms of its configuration options. The base version of the Alpha has an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, with a custom integrated Nvidia GPU. There will be configurations available with Core i5 and i7 CPUs, up to 2TB of storage, and up to 8 gigs of RAM (with two slots that support up to 16GB total). You’ll be able to upgrade all those components yourself if you want.

For playing the actual games, you can use the included wireless Xbox 360 controller for Steam’s controller-supported titles or a mouse and keyboard. There are two USB 2.0 ports on the front of the Alpha box, as well as a couple of USB 3.0 ports around the back. According to Alienware, the box is compatible with any Windows-compatible peripherals, including Bluetooth headsets and keyboards. It’ll also work with Xbox One gamepads, although only a single Xbox 360 controller is included with the Alpha.

The Alpha’s base configuration (Core i3/4GB RAM/500GB with a wireless Xbox 360 controller) is priced at a console-like $550. They’re available for pre-order now, and Alienware says it expects to start shipping the units in November.


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