Earlier this week, Alienware boss Frank Azor said that the company's upcoming Steam Machine, slated for September if all goes well, will have no customization options, as the customer really can't update the hardware. Now, several days later, he's back in the spotlight singing somewhat of a different tune.
On Thursday, Azor explained that Steam Machine owners won't be locked out of modding the device. However, making alterations to the existing hardware set will not be easy. Just think of it as a laptop, not a stand-up desktop with enough space to house ten-foot graphics cards.
"Enabling customers the opportunity to upgrade components has been a core tenet for Alienware since the company was founded, and that remains true today," he told Eurogamer in a short interview.
That's why the news was so shocking earlier this week; preventing customers from upgrading their machine just isn't Alienware's style. Besides, if you purchased the machine, you should have the right to do whatever you want with it as long as modifications don't void the warranty, right?
When Valve set out on its quest to bring PC gaming into the living room, presumably one of the key Steam Machine rules was to have a gaming box that can be upgraded as PC games grow more complex. This is why the press assumed that Xi3's Piston was a Steam Machine last year, partly due to the ease of upgrading component cards (the Piston name and Valve's financial involvement also played a hand in the speculation).
Now that all 14 Steam Machine partners are out in the spotlight, Alienware's model is one of the most talked about boxes, likely due to the complete lack of hardware information. What kind of hardware present is inside that pretty box? Whatever it is, it can be upgraded according to Azor.
Previously, Azor suggested that modders choose the company's Alienware X51 instead. That opinion still stands.
"If a customer is interested in modding and upgrading their rig on a regular basis, then we recommend the Alienware X51," he said. "Enabling easy upgradeability was a critical design requirement for the X51. It includes features such as single screw access to all internal components, and easy-to-remove ODD, HDD, graphics, etc."
He added that if gamers want more freedom to upgrade, then they should consider the X51. If they want a small, console-like device and have no intention of swapping out the hardware, then the Alienware Steam Machine will be the golden ticket to PC gaming in the living room.