Earlier this month, Valve announced that its Steamboxes, first unveiled at CES 2014, would be pushed to 2015 due to controller redesign and Linux-based SteamOS issues. Even with the delays and certain manufacturers jumping ship to release their consoles as mini-PCs, Valve is not giving up hope on SteamOS devices coming to market.
Arguably Valve’s biggest-name hardware partner, Dell’s high-end gaming PC division Alienware is one of the companies that are not going to be waiting around for SteamOS and the Steam Controller to arrive next year. Instead, the Alienware Alpha will run Windows 8.1, with a custom Alienware controller-based interface that suppresses almost everything so annoyingly “Windows” about the OS. Despite this apparent shunning of SteamOS, Alienware has stated that they will be offering instructions on how to install the beta on their new device, and have not turned away from the operating system or controller when they finally come out.
The Alpha will run on an Intel CPU (Haswell i3, i5, or i7), a 500 GB HD, and utilize a custom Nvidia GPU based on their Maxwell architecture, with promises of virtually all PC games running at 1080p at 60fps (though possibly not on maximum video settings). Full specs are not yet available on the GPU, but we’ll keep you apprised as we learn more. The Alpha will have HDMI input and output, 4 USB ports, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band wireless-AC, optical audio out, and Windows 8.1.
With the Alpha interface, notifications won’t interrupt gameplay, and the new interface will allow users to adjust video and network settings directly. Users will also be able to open the mouse-and-keyboard Windows mode if they want to use the computer as a living room-based desktop computer, allowing them to play non-Steam games, watch movies and do document work as if it were a PC.
Alienware’s Alpha will be available for the holidays, and will come with a single Xbox 360 controller and its official Wireless Adapter, plus at least one bundled game. As far as price is concerned, the Alpha is fairly competitive with the Xbox One and PS4, at $549 for the Intel Core i3 version with the aforementioned controller. Core i5 and i7 versions with 8 GB of RAM and either 1 TB or 2 TB hard drives will also be available, though pricing information is not at this time.