Alienware Alpha review: almost the Steam Machine you're looking for
If you absolutely have to have a Steam Machineright now, you're not going to do better than the Alienware Alpha. Still, it's a mere stepping stone towards bigger, better and more complete PC game consoles.
- Alpha UI creates a solid console illusion
- Custom gamepad drivers solve most mouse and keyboard problems
- Makes it easy to play PC games on a TV
- Painfully long load times
- Overprotective console mode blocks some games from running
- Driver issues can cause trouble with some titles
It's hard to describe the Alienware Alpha. On the surface, it's a small-form gaming PC, custom-built from laptop components to fit in your entertainment center. But it was supposed to be a frontrunner in a new category of gaming devices. It isn't. Valve's Steam Machine initiative was delayed past its original launch window, leaving manufacturers like Dell to fend for themselves in a market that doesn't exist yet. It's a weird, awkward place to be in, but here we are, testing the Alienware Alpha: a Steam Machine before its time. The question is: Can one of the biggest names in PC gaming succeed where others have failed?