Dell isn't letting Valve's Steam Machine delay ruin its plans to invade the living room
By now you've likely heard that official Steam Machines won't launch until sometime next year when Valve is finished tweaking its Steam Controller prototype (and if you haven't heard, you should bookmark Maximum PC!). That's a bit of a pisser, though it isn't stopping OEM system builders from forging ahead with plans to release console-like PC systems. Case in point, Alienware just announced its Alpha Console starting at $549.
What the flip is an Alpha Console? Well, it's a cleverly named system that's essentially a Steam Machine running on Windows instead of the Linux-based Steam OS. Alienware tells Maximum PC that it designed its own 10-foot UI upon boot that will allow you to access your music and movies like a console. It will also be integrated with Steam's Big Picture mode and come with an Xbox 360 controller.
In addition to the controller, the $549 configuration includes an unspecified Intel Core i3 Haswell-based processor, 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, custom-built Nvidia GPU based on Maxwell and with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, 500GB hard drive, dual-band Wireless-AC 1x1 with Bluetooth 4.0, GbE, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI input (direct HDMI pass-through), HDMI output (uncompressed 8-channel audio and support for 4K content), and Windows 8.1 64-bit.
Users with a bigger budget can configure an Alpha Console with Intel Core i5 and i7 processor options, 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, 2x2 Wi-Fi, and 1TB or 2TB HDD options.
Valve undoubtedly caught its OEM hardware partners off-guard when it decided to continue tweaking its Steam Controller into next year, which therefore meant delaying official Steam Machine systems. Rather than let all that R&D into physical design and hardware go to waste, or be put on hold, it look likes Dell has chosen to launch what would have been its Steam Machine, but with a new name (Alpha Console) and with Windows running the show. It will be interesting to see what Alienware's custom UI looks like. Another question that comes to mind is how Alienware plans to differentiate next year's Steam Machine launch with these Alpha Consoles. Some interesting storylines are developing for sure.
Dell's Alienware Alpha Console will begin shipping in time for the 2014 holiday season. In the meantime, check out more pics of the system in our gallery below!