Dell has announced their home console to compete with the likes of the Piston PC and other small boxes from the likes of Zotac and ASRock. Only, there’s a slight difference in the offering here – it’s a PC under the Alienware brand and it’s priced to compete with the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. Originally unveiled as a Steam Machine, the Alienware Alpha ships with Windows 8.1 along with a custom launcher made by Dell, as well as a bundled wireless Xbox 360 controller. Hit the jump for more info.
The inside of the Alpha hasn’t been shown yet, but Dell did go into a little detail about what’s in the box. It ships with a custom Nvidia Geforce graphics card from the Maxwell family (most likely a soldered-in mobile part) and it’s roughly the equivalent of the desktop GTX750 Ti’s performance. Along with that is a Intel Haswell Core i3 processor of unknown clock speed, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 2.5″ 5400RPM hard drive for game storage.
Dell hasn’t locked enthusiasts out completely, though. There are CPU upgrade options if you need more processing horsepower and you can stuff in up to 8GB of RAM as well. There’s no mSATA or M.2 connector for a SSD, so you’re left with replacing the 500GB hard drive inside if you want that kind of speed.
For connectivity there’s HDMI 1.4a with a HDMI-in port for digital pass-thru (though I think if anyone wanted to use a console to control their TV, they’d buy a Xbox One), two USB 3.0 ports at the front and rear of the chassis, Gigabit LAN and 802.11 ac/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.0. The machine will have a power brick, allowing Dell to slim down the chassis a lot. There’s also optical audio, if you’re able to make use of it with a nice home theatre system or high-end headphones.
Dell says that the Alpha will go on sale first in the US and Canada for $549 and it will ship before Christmas. If things improve significantly in the area of driver support, they might even swap the controller out for the Xbox One version instead. The price would be closer to $499 if Dell didn’t have to bundle Windows 8.1 in, but there may be an option in the future to have the machine ship with Linux pre-installed so you can use it as a Steambox.
Now this is all well and good, but… considering the market they’re trying to target along with the fact that Windows 8.1′s interface doesn’t work very well with a controller, why would you pick this up over a Xbox One with Kinect. That has a bundled high-def camera and microphone for voice navigation, a decent spread of games for the coming months and the holidays, is available now, is also available without Kinect, doesn’t need Xbox Live Gold for watching media through the bundled apps and has HDMI pass-thru that works with voice control as well.
However, for the price, it’s unbeatable as a value-orientated desktop replacement. I could replace my desktop PC with this thing and have more desk space and something more pleasing to look at, along with a lot more processing power. Its just a pity that if it ever reaches our borders, it’ll be priced nowhere near the current exchange rate for US $549 (approx. R5900).
Source: Tech Report