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

alienware alpha launches holiday custom windows 8 1 steamos coming later

Unveiled at E3 2014, the Alienware Alpha has the potential to be a lot of things. It could be the first really successful living room gaming PC. It could also become the only Nvidia-powered device in your living room. And it has the potential to be a great Steam Machine – just not yet.

Steampunk. Alienware wants to make a living room PC that runs SteamOS, but it seems Valve’s release timeline simply doesn’t match up with the PC maker’s. So when the Alienware Alpha launches this holiday, it will come with Windows 8.1 installed instead.

Then, when Valve gets its act together and actually releases SteamOS, Alienware will provide users with a “very simple, very easy upgrade path,” the company’s Technical Marketing Specialist Jonathan Troller told Digital Trends at E3. And those with the know-how will even be able to dual-boot, if they so desire.

“We are going to really push Steam OS,” Troller said. “We have a lot of faith in them. We’re completely behind Valve. We love the idea, we were all for it, and we agree with them: if it’s not 100-percent ready, then hold onto it and make sure.”

In the meantime Alienware won’t just slap Windows 8.1 on the Alpha instead and call it a day. Users will be able to boot the machine in desktop mode, yes, but the company has also created a custom overlay that can be navigated using a controller, just like SteamOS. And from day one you’ll be able to launch directly into Steam’s Big Picture mode, making it a sort of jury-rigged Steam Machine right at the get-go.

alienware alpha e3 show floor

Two hands. Speaking of controllers, the Alienware Alpha will ship with one – a wireless Xbox 360 controller with a USB dongle. It can also use any controller that Windows has drivers for, including PlayStation 4ell and Xbox One pads. The Alpha will come with many of those drivers pre-installed, Troller said.

The Alpha base model will ship with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, and a custom Nvidia GPU built especially for Alienware. The chip is based on Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture and has 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM; it was designed to mesh well with the Alpha’s form and specs.

This configuration will launch at $549. There will be higher tiers, but Alienware hasn’t announced pricing for them yet. Even the base level should be able to output most anything at 1080p and 60 frames per second, Troller told us. “I’ve personally played that config, and yeah, actually it plays really, really well,” he said. “And a lot of that has to do with that custom Nvidia chip. It’s pretty nice, actually. It doesn’t get too hot, doesn’t even get too loud.”

Besides that on-board Nvidia chip, the Alpha is fully upgradeable. “You can change the CPU, you can change the memory and the hard drives. It’s actually very easy to do,” Troller said. “I have torn them apart many times.”

Dell Alienware X51 Gaming Desktop review Alienware logo

Match made in heaven. At Alienware’s E3 booth the company demoed the Alpha living room PC running Arrowhead Game Studios’ new Gauntlet reboot. It doesn’t look like the most taxing game, so it’s not exactly surprising, but it certainly ran well. And more importantly it helped demonstrate the Alpha’s ability to support multiplayer using multiple controllers and controller types, plus mouse-and-keyboard, simultaneously.

Troller said Alienware’s relationship with Nvidia has been “very symbiotic,” not least of which because the chip maker has been seeking inroads to the living room since Microsoft and Sony both put AMD graphics in their newest consoles.

“They were very excited to get a computer in the living room, and they really, really wanted to push this,” Troller said. “And since we have such a great relationship with them, we became the logical choice to take that vision, that SteamOS vision which is now this, and make this living room experience using their product.”

It’s impossible to know without a whole bunch of testing, but it sounds like the Alienware Alpha will be able to match the Xbox One and PS4 in power, even at its base launch configuration. It may well be that the only remaining variable is whether PC gamers actually want to migrate to their couches.

Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for March 2019

Looking to score Nintendo's latest console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on bundles that feature must-have games like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Zelda: Breath of…
Gaming

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit has a ton of games you can play with starting April 12

Nintendo Labo: VR Kit has a plethora of games to play after you're done building the Toy-Cons. From an on-rails alien shooter to a deep sea photography adventure, here's what you can play with Labo: VR Kit. You can even make your own games.
Gaming

Get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One

You can get Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for free when buying an Xbox One from Newegg. Eight different bundles are available for this deal, so you can walk away with Sekiro and another game such as The Division 2 or Anthem.
Gaming

How to break Posture and deal a Shinobi Deathblow in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an incredibly difficult game, and managing the Posture system is a key part of improving and tackling the latest From Software title's most challenging sections.
Gaming

Here's what we know about the Dark Souls developer's next game

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from Dark Souls and Bloodborne developer From Software. Here is everything we know about the new game, including its setting and combat changes.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Here's a look at how the Epic Games Store is sizing up to the competition

The Epic Games Store has picked up exclusives left and right since its launch last December. From AAA games like The Division 2 to wonderful indies like Hades, the Epic Games store has an impressive library of exclusives.
Gaming

Master Shinobi combat with our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice beginner's guide

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is one of the hardest games of the generation, and it can be overwhelming, even for those who have played From Software's other games. Here is what you need to know to get started.
Gaming

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we've got a guide to help you unlock every allied race that's coming in Battle for Azeroth.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…