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Alienware now shipping its Alpha console box

If you just can’t decide between a next-generation console and a Windows-based gaming rig then the Alienware Alpha PC is here to meet your needs. It’s been in the pipeline since the summer, and this weekend Dell confirmed that shipping had started on the compact computer with console aspirations.

In terms of living room gaming, Sony and Microsoft have the market pretty much sewn up, but efforts such as Alpha and SteamOS are looking to change that landscape. Prices for the new machine start at $549 with an Intel Core i3 dual core CPU and 4GB of RAM, rising to $899 for a faster Intel Core i7 quad core CPU, 8GB of RAM and more storage capacity.

Related: Alienware Alpha launches this holiday with custom Windows 8.1, SteamOS coming later

What makes the Alpha different is its customized Windows 8.1 interface — it sports a console mode that lets you dive right in to your games using a compatible gamepad. The alternative desktop mode available on the machine is invisible until you plug in a keyboard and mouse. If you need them, you’ll need to source these peripherals (and a monitor) separately.

The Alpha ships with an Xbox 360 wireless controller and a specially engineered NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M graphics card designed to maximize performance for games currently in the Steam line-up. If you don’t want to head to the Dell website to pick up your new compact gaming PC then you can find the boxes on sale at Amazon, BestBuy, GameStop, NewEgg and TigerDirect from this weekend.

“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,” said Alienware’s General Manager Frank Azor in a press statement. “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.”