It started shipping only a couple days ago, but Alienware's "substitute" Steam Machine, the Alpha PC gaming series, has already gotten a lot of ambivalent feedback from blog reviewers and buyers alike. Me? Well, my mama says she's not paying $500 for "another box" so I guess I won't know firsthand until my little buddy Ollie down the street gets one and invites me and my friend Cornelius over to play it with him after he finishes his homework.
And for the record, Mama, it's $550.
And that will just get you the Alpha's lowest echelon model (2980), fitted with a dual-core Intel Core i3-4130T CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5, 4GB of DDR3L RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. The price increases to $900 as you work your way to the 7980 and its Intel Quad-Core i7-4765T processor and 2 TB hard drive.
For its part, Alienware believes the Alpha merges PC gaming freedom with console convenience. Navigate its custom user interface with the included Xbox 360 wireless controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. Use online community Steam Big Picture to access and instantly download thousands of Steam games. Or stream your choice of media in 1080P HD on big screen TV.
Alienware also promotes system upgrades, calling the Alpha user-accessible for swapping in a newer CPU and adding RAM to improve in-game performance and background application multitasking. However, the console's GPU cannot be altered, and critics grumble that the Nvidia 860M it's modeled after is already outdated, and won't be able to keep up with forthcoming games.