E3 2014 : Alienware Reveals Its First Steam Machine
Personally I am not too phased about “Steam Machines”. For many people who have been involved in tech Steam Machines as we know them now (pre SteamOS and controller) existed way before Gabe Newell waved his magic crowbar in all our faces.
These existed in the form of m-ATX and m-ITX builds, with Prodigy and Phenom Cases that PC gamers have been building in since the Z-68/Z77 platform. Now I’m not making a case for “hipster” PC gamers who did Steam Machines before it was cool, but I’m just explaining why I’m not phased about Steam Machines as I can go build myself one right now, sans SteamOS and Controller as they have been delayed till 2015 — obviously for Half Life 3.
Although delayed, that has not stopped Alienware from revealing their own Alienware Alpha Steam Machine which will cost $550, or $150 more than the Xbox One and PS4.
Inside the low end machine you have an Intel Core i3 CPU and a “custom made” Nvidia Maxwell GPU with 2GB of VRAM. I’m not sure what a “custom made” Maxwell chip is supposed to look like, but I assume it is just an extra low profile 750Ti chip — not exactly the pinnacle of performance for 1080p gaming. Remember, I am assuming it is a 750ti chip — it could be something completely different and new.
Also, since there is no SteamOS out, you’d imagine this machine will run Windows, however the machine is only coupled with the 4GB of system RAM, essentially meaning those games (Battlefield 4) which are only supported on 64-bit versions of Windows are not going to fare well on this machine.
Instead of the delayed Steam Controller, Alienware have included an Xbox controller and receiver.
There are options to upgrade to i5 or i7 versions, but that will also increase the costs as well.
In light of this, a Steam Machine like this is really not suitable for a gaming rig as the cheaper consoles will offer much more gaming bang for buck than this much more expensive option. The Nvidia Maxwell GPU may be extremely power efficient, so the whole system will consume very little power, but it may also lack the gaming grunt you would expect when dropping $550 on a console/PC hybrid.