Sony is in an enviable position at the moment: it’s claimed an early victory in the next-gen console wars, with sales of the PlayStation 4 edging ahead of its closest rival the Xbox One. Of course, gaming is a volatile industry and you just never know what’s going to happen. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Adam Rohde agrees, admitting in an interview that the Steam Machine may compete in the same space one day, but that Valve has a lot of work to do to make this happen.
For years, PC gaming was synonymous with Windows gaming. DirectX was the go-to API, and if you wanted to play the latest and greatest games on your killer rig, you did it under the auspices of Microsoft's operating systems. But Alienware Product Manager Marc Diana expects that situation to change dramatically once Steam Machines (and, more specifically, the SteamOS that drives them) are finally unleashed.
I met with Alienware at E3 2014 to look at the only prominent PC at the show: the Alienware Alpha, a miniature Steam Machine going on sale around the end of the year. This Steam Machine won't be running Valve's Linux-based SteamOS, or ship with a Steam Controller, though—when Valve delayed final releases of both to next year, Alienware decided to switch to Windows 8.1 with a custom UI and boot sequence that launches straight into Steam Big Picture. What I saw was an early, rough version of that UI, but Alienware made it clear that you shouldn't ever have to see Windows when you boot up the box. Unless, of course, you want to.
Alienware Alpha is a $550 Steam Machine we looked at earlier this week, during which we noted that SteamOS, the backbone of the system, isn't quite ready. That, and the inclusion of Windows 8.1 in the system specs, understandably led to some existential questions about whether a Steam Machine without SteamOS is really a Steam Machine at all; and the answer, according to Alienware, is "yes."
Today at E3 2014, Alienware unveiled its entry in the Steam Machine lineup. The Alienware Alpha gaming console is a gaming PC designed from the beginning to bring your favorite Steam games into the living room—even if SteamOS and the Steam Controller isn't quite ready yet.
Update: The original version of this story implied that Alienware wasn’t confident in the potential success of Steam Machines as a broader initiative. We’ve since omitted this. We apologize for the error.
Valve's Steam Machines are strange beasts. They're PCs running a Valve-specific version of Linux, attached to televisions in the living room and driven by a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. That's a tough sell for PC gamers, and a big challenge for the hardware companies who will sell the systems, often at low prices so they can compete against the cheaper consoles. Alienware, the Dell-owned gaming PC manufacturer and largest company in the space, definitely understands how tough the marketplace will be. Individually, the company doesn't believe its Steam Machines will be very profitable compared to the profit it nets from its existing desktops and laptops.
A couple of days ago we reported the confusing and disappointing news that you will not be able to upgrade Alienware’s Steam Machine, one of the more promising models involved in Valve’s foray into the living room unveiled at CES 2014. But apparently that’s not true at all.
From the many Steam Machine models unveiled at CES 2014, Alienware’s looked like one of the best. It was less of an eyesore, and Valve’s Greg Coomer himself has said that it's the machine "we think is actually going to serve the most customers and make the most Steam users happy." I bet these users will be less happy to find out that they can’t upgrade Alienware’s Steam Machine, which will instead just launch a new model every 12 months.
You like free things, right? Well good news – we’ve got an Alienware TactX mouse and keyboard to give away, and all you have to do is show us how awesome your personalised PC rig is. It’s all to celebrate the announcement of new god Vulcan in up-and-coming MOBA, Smite. Turns out Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, was pretty handy at knocking up bespoke stuff.
Fancy a GeForce 6 series graphics processor in your next laptop? You're in luck, because Alienware has just updated its website to include options for the latest GPUs in its laptop range.
A time for celebration and cheer, then? It certainly is, except that there's a noteable omission from the new line-up, as one machine is apparently being allowed to sell itself into oblivion.
Gaming PC maker Alienware has launched a new desktop with a difference today. Unlike the hulking behemoths of the past, the new Alienware X51 is a small form factor machine, which arrives in a case roughly the size of an Xbox.
The X51 certainly looks the part. Its all corners and curves with a slot loading DVD drive and Alienware's trademark customisably LED lighting. Prices start at £699 (no US price has been confirmed yet) though, so what's inside, and is it powerful enough to take on its bigger brethren?
Hey! You like games, right? Do you find yourself sometimes having opinions about them? How would you like to be in with a chance to win a top spec M14x Alienware laptop for telling everyone what you think? Step right this way, let your voice be heard and place your vote in this year's Golden Joysticks.
The contest is open to US and UK citizens, and couldn't be easier to enter. All you need to do is vote in all 14 categories on the Golden Joysticks site and you'll be in with a chance of winning a bunch of prizes, including all of the Golden Joystick nominated games, and a top of the range gaming laptop from Alienware.
Thinking of buying a new notebook? Might want to hold on until we've had chance to review these two new graphics chips from NVIDIA. The company has launched a pair of processors today, the GeForce GTX 580M and GeForce GTX 570M.
Both are pretty high end processors: the 580M is slated to make its first appearance in Alienware's giant M18x and is the company's fastest current mobile chip. It has 384 unified shaders and a base clockspeed of 620MHz, while the 570M is slightly lower power with 336 cores ticking over at 535MHz - although actual speeds can be tuned by the laptop manufacturer.
They don't look like a massive upgrade to the older GeForce GTX 485M and its ilk, although NVIDIA is claiming a 20% increase in framerates across the board. Worth keeping an eye on though.
Alienware showed off a triple win of processing power yesterday at Dell's Tech Camp at the Roundhouse in London, with a three way 3D set-up running Crysis 2.
The three monitor display rig is powered by a single GeForce GTX 590 card, and ran the game stereoscopically at consistently playable framerates. It's the most convincing display of 3D tech that I've seen so far.