First Look At The Alienware Steam Machine
Two years after the announcement of the Steam Machine console concept, Alienware is finally set to roll out the first batch of Steam Machines... and we got one ahead of time.
Created to drive innovation in PC gaming, Alienware has worked closely with Valve, the developers behind the online gaming platform Steam, to change the landscape of PC gaming... Specifically by bringing it from the office and desktops and into living rooms.
Today, we take a first look at the Alienware Steam Machine with a look inside the box and our first impressions.
First, here's a little insight into the machine. Obviously, it runs on the Linux-based SteamOS, which has its pros and cons. Steam boasts a library of over 4,500 titles... and promises more to come, but it's much less than what is available for traditional Windows system. However, the Steam Machine allows you to stream any Windows game from your desktop and onto your television... which is a plus... though it does depend on network speeds for a crisp gaming experience.
Despite this small gripe, utilizing the Steam Controller and having the ability to play games from your couch, makes any workarounds worth it for us.
The Steam Controller is definitely the big highlight here, which essentially turns the Steam Machine box into a full-fledged console. It took us a few plays to get used to, at first, since it was the first time trying PC gaming with a controller... but the learning curve isn't sharp. Using the touch thumb pads were the real task. Although it's a little different, the Steam Controller offers far greater options than a conventional controller.
Furthermore, the controller is completely customizable, allowing users to set functionality to each button to suit your needs. And, if you can't figure out a configuration that works for a certain title, you can download the best user-rated set-up from the Steam community... which made things a breeze for us.
Another highlight the Steam Machine gives gamers is the ability for multiplayer. Setting up a multiplayer night of gaming on a PC isn't very realistic and comes with a lot of headaches. But with the Steam Machine, throwing a gaming party with friends in your living room is now very easy. Plug in up to four controllers... and go.
As far as specs, Alienware offers the Steam Machine in four configurations, starting with an Intel Core i3, Dual Core, alongside 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive, all the way up to an Intel Core i7 with 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, and an upgraded Wi-Fi card, all built with a high performance NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX GPU 2GB GDDR5 graphics card.
Our unit is a mid-range config, featuring a Core i3 processor, 8GM RAM and a 1TB hard drive, costing $549 at retail.
If a configuration isn't exactly what you need, don't worry. The CPU, hard drive, memory and wireless card are all upgradeable... and best of all, upgrading your unit doesn't void your warranty.
Inside each Alienware Steam Machine box, you get the essentials: the Steam Machine itself; the Steam Controller (Xbox 360 controllers work as well); and the necessary cables, including a 6-foot HDMI cable. Console inputs include: DC in, HDMI-In, HDMI-Out, Optical Audio Out, RJ45 GbE and (2) USB 3.0. There's also two USB inputs at the front for controllers, and one underneath, which is hidden.
While Alienware isn't positioning the Steam Machine as a direct competitor of tradition gaming consoles, it definitely adds to any gamer's existing ecosystem, especially those heavy into PC gaming. Furthermore, pricing is very competitive, starting at $449, as compared to a souped up desktop tower or gaming-specific laptop... which is sure to entice many.
Overall, the Alienware Steam Machine offers a great experience for PC game lovers. While more titles would be nice, coming to market with over 1,500 titles is a good start. We look forward to seeing how the community takes to the new Steam Machine... because we were impressed.
The Alienware Steam Machine drops Nov. 10 online and at select Game Stops.
Visit AlienwareArena.com for more on the Alienware Steam Machine from the community... and be on the lookout for our upcoming giveaway!! We'll be giving away a Valve Games Key, which will give the winner access to EVERY Valve title -- past, present and future.