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Dell Now Shipping Alienware Alpha 'Console'

Dell's Alienware division announced on Friday that it is now shipping the Alienware Alpha gaming console. The Alpha was originally marketed as a Steam Machine earlier this year, but given that the Steam controller still isn't finalized (which is a Steam Machine requirement), the company has decided to ship Alpha with an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller instead.

Although the Steam Machine initiative calls for one hardware configuration that can be easily upgraded, Dell is offering four Alpha models costing $549, $699, $799 and $899. The cheapest model includes an Intel Core i3-4130T dual-core processor clocked up to 2.9 GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and 4 GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz memory. This configuration also provides 500 GB of internal storage.

For the $699 model, Dell has doubled the memory to 8 GB and doubled the internal storage to 1 TB; the other hardware specs remain the same. However, for the $799 model, Dell has thrown in a zippier Intel Core i5-4590T quad-core processor clocked up to 3.0 GHz as well as the double memory and double storage.

As for the $899 version, it's based on the Intel Core i7-4765T quad-core processor clocked up to 3.0 GHz, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM. The console also includes 8 GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz RAM and 2 TB of internal storage.

According to the specifications, all four models come packed with Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. There are also a number of ports including two USB 2.0 ports on the front, two USB 3.0 ports on the back, gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4a output, HDMI input and optical audio out. There's also a USB 3.0 connection that can be accessed through the "tool-less" bottom door.

The specs also show that all four are based on Windows 8.1. However, they will boot into a user interface designed by Dell that's controller-friendly. Here, gamers can launch their favorite titles using Steam's Big Picture mode, access their movies, TV shows and music, and change the system settings. Users can even download games to the console by using a smartphone or tablet.

The beauty here is that Alpha owners can play their favorite PC titles using a gamepad, or go old school and plug in a keyboard and mouse. This console is also designed to be easily upgradeable, allowing users to swap out the processor and maximize the memory capacity. Can you do that with the Xbox One or PlayStation 4? No.

What will be curious to see is how customers will flock to the Dell console. Will the Alpha sell like any other computer, or will it give the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 a hard time on the console market? Given how developers and publishers are giving the PC platform more attention now that the current generation of consoles is more PC-like, it may still be a long while before solutions like the Alpha can conquer the living room. Still, Dell is off to a great start thanks to the Alpha console.

"We've been working hard this past year to break the mold and develop a system that finally brings hundreds of Steam games, including some really fun indie titles, to TVs," said Frank Azor, General Manager of Alienware.

Customers wanting to get their hands on an Alienware Alpha can do so at select Fry's and Walmart locations. Those who would rather order the console online can do so at the following locations listed below, provided by Dell:

Tom's Hardware plans to review the Alienware Alpha soon, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, here's a hands-on view that took place during E3 2014 back in June.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • kawininjazx
    I love it "An Nvidia GPU" how about some details
    Reply
  • chimera201
    "Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU"

    I love how the pre-built PC companies never market the exact GPU model

    i3-4130T is slower than an i3 4130 probably as good as a G3258

    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Nvidia GPU 2GB of vram. That doesn't tell you a lot about the GPU since 80% of nvidias gpus have 2GB of ram.
    Reply
  • Vlad Rose
    Overpriced garbage. You're still better off building your own Mini-ITX Steambox system for now.
    Reply
  • holyknight1121
    No way its gonna be one of the new 900 series with that "2gb vram", unless they pull off a surprise with it being 960 or 950. Probably isn't gonna be a 780 either since from nvidia website the standard vram for 780 is 3gb.
    Reply
  • Donny Saengkio
    It is a modified Nvidia GTX 860m GPU. If you look on YouTube under their Alienware account they have posted numerous game-play videos on the base-line: Core i3/ 4gb RAM/ 500gb HDD model - which performed rather well but people will argue you can build something better for the price.
    Reply
  • Barantos1
    Mobile graphics cards were created to punish people who bragged about their laptops.
    Reply
  • TheXRavenX
    We took an Nvidia 860m and modified it to suit our needs.

    We had space, thermal, power, price, and performance requires. This chip and its components fit the bill.
    Reply
  • jtd871
    I'd at least like to see a review unit tested for framerates, temps and noise. Could be a pretty good deal considering that it'll be plug and chug. Wonder when the manual will appear on the Dell support site...
    Reply
  • waikano
    "or go old school and plug in a keyboard and mouse"
    More Like 'go real school and plug in a keyboard and mouse.'
    Reply