This time last year, Alienware and parent company Dell debuted a concept called Nyx, which served as a massive gaming server for your home, letting you play PC games on just about any screen. This year, at CES 2023, Alienware is pushing the vision further with a new wireless controller that the company says will make PC games far more accessible from your couch.
It's a notable change. Last year, Alienware showed off Nyx with a controller built off of its Concept UFO handheld, which we haven't seen since 2020. This year, the controller is new and jam-packed full of tech to make it customizable.
The front looks like a mashup of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation 5's DualSense. The thumbsticks are on the bottom, in classic PlayStation position, while a touchpad is where a traditional directional pad would be located. There are standard A,B, X and Y buttons, as well as left and right bumpers and triggers. An Alienware head logo in the center is a fingerprint reader.
In theory, you could use the controller to log in to specific games or only load your library, not a family member or roommate's. The back of the controller has two "shift" buttons, which could be used to remap all of the buttons on the front, providing tons of potential inputs. (I would be curious to see if Alienware is considering a version with multiple back paddles, like several "Pro" controllers out there.)
Unfortunately, while parts of the demo were down during our time with the controller, we still got to try some of its other more interesting features. For example, there are some advanced haptics, which reminded me of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons and PS5 DualSense, as well as adaptive triggers, like on the PS5 controller.
But there are more tricks, like the "self-adjusting variable resistance thumb sticks,” which you can tighten using an internal motor. The controller also has a pair of scroll wheels on the bottom, which might help navigate through long menus. And all of these features could potentially work with Nyx's ability to split-screen applications.
And of course, there's a ton of RGB, including a light on the bottom, as well as behind the buttons and Alienware logo. Hopefully you can turn that off to preserve battery life. The whole thing charges over USB Type-C.
I found the ergonomics, specifically some flat edges along the bottom, to be a little a little odd to hold, though some colleagues found it more comfortable than I did. I also found the bumpers to be a bit sticky. That may all be beside the point, as Alienware points out in a blog post, "this is a concept, not a product." It's unclear if this controller — or the entire Nyx server concept, will ever come to light.
Alienware's parent company, Dell, is also introducing new ideas for using Nyx in the office, including the possibility of applications being shared on desktop PCs with 3D cameras, whiteboards and VR headsets, though that demo was down during our tour of the company’s press space.
As with Dell's Concept Luna, a repairable laptop that can be recycled or repaired by robots, which also showed twice, Alienware seems to be taking its time with Nyx. We'll see in the long run if it ever becomes something you can have in your home.
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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE