Isn't one of the points of having a Steam Machine the ability to upgrade the device when needed? That doesn't seem to be the case with Dell-owned Alienware who will instead release a new model each year. Switching out the CPU or graphics card seems to be out of the question.
"There will be some configuration options when you purchase it, maybe you can get a faster CPU, maybe some more memory something like that," said Frank Azor, Alienware's General Manager. "If you actually want to customize your Alienware Steam Machine, maybe change your graphics card out or put in a new CPU, you would be better off with the standard Alienware X51. This particular product is restricted in its upgrade options."
Valve formally introduced Steam Machines earlier this month during CES 2014, revealing a list of 14 partners that will produce a wide range of Steam Machine form factors including palm-sized to full-blown gaming monsters with price tags up in the $2,000s. As seen over the last several weeks, Alienware's model will be similar in shape and price to Microsoft's new Xbox One.
"Lifecycle wise, consoles update every five, six, seven years, we will be updating our Steam Machines every year," Azor said in an interview.
Last week, Alienware announced that its first-generation Steam Machine will launch in September. We don't really know anything about the specs save for it's using an Intel "Haswell" processor and a Nvidia GPU. Pictures reveal two USB 2.0 ports on the front, two more on the back as well as HDMI output and an Ethernet port, and two exhaust vents.
"There will be no customization options, you can't really update it," he said. "The platform will continue to evolve as the games become more resource intensive."
Hardware refreshes each year may be out of the question for many gamers, but at least Alienware isn't waiting for half a decade to release a new unit. Then again, it could be cheaper to just purchase a new Steam Machine rather than forking out the same amount on a new processor and graphics card. We'll have a better picture once we get more information about what's inside the Alienware Steam Machine later on.