They couldn't wait for Valve to finally release SteamOS, so Alienware went on ahead and let loose their new PC gaming console called the Alienware Alpha. The console-style form factor and custom OS basically turns the standard desktop PC into an easy-to-use console.
The Alpha uses what's called the Alpha-UI, a specialized user interface to make navigation and gameplay pretty easy-to-use for anyone who just wants to power-up their device and start playing games with a controller.
Speaking of a controller, the Alpha comes with an Xbox 360 controller, but gamers are welcome to use what best fits their play-style.
Frank Azor, General Manager of Alienware, commented about the PC that's been compressed and squeezed into a console-sized box, saying...
"We’ve been working hard this past year to break the mold and develop a system that finally brings hundreds of Steam games, including some really fun indie titles, to TVs,” … “The team and I are excited to finally deliver our vision for big screen gaming and give our fans a console that delivers true next-gen performance with the flexibility to choose how, what and where they want to play.”
Interestingly enough, the Alpha is powered by the Nvidia 860M, which is the same GPU that happens to be found in ASUS Republic of Gamers' GL551JM.
I should note that during the benchmark tests, the 860M performed well but still had trouble hitting 60fps at 1080p on the max settings for some games. This means that you would still have to choose graphics over frame-rate or vice versa.
Nevertheless, the custom 860M in the Alpha carries 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM and is also designed to handle video streaming and media content processing, too.
One of the things that Alienware also included – on the software front – is a copy of Windows 8.1. The point? So if you want to do more than just game, you can do so. While the Alpha was designed for gaming, you can still hook up a keyboard and mouse, install the latest freeware office suite or video editing tools, and carry out all the standard-fare PC functions that you would from an office-based desktop.
Additionally, you'll still have all the user and productivity features that are accessible from the Steam client, including the ability to make use of the new Steam Music feature, as well as the Big Picture Mode.
Now, personally, I've never managed to get Big Picture Mode to work properly on any device, whether it was a laptop, a desktop or plugged up to the TV via HDMI. However, for people who have managed to get Big Picture Mode to work the way it's supposed to, it makes it easy for gamers to navigate their library, mods, music and movies with ease.
The Alienware Alpha is available right now starting at $549 and it comes in four different configurations that scales up to $899 for the Alpha that comes with 8GB GDDR3 RAM, 2TB HD with an i7 4765T. You can learn more about the Alpha over on the official website.