CNET First Look
Alienware Alpha bridges the PC/console gaming divideThis gaming desktop looks and acts like a living room console, but plays your PC game library.
[MUSIC] Have we finally bridged the gap between gaming PC and console? I'm Dan Ackerman, and this is the Alienware Alpha. Now we've been hearing about this particular system for more than a year now. It was originally proposed as part of the. Steam Machine series, so Alienware decided to take the box they had been working on and just release it as a Windows 8 desktop but with a custom UI that gets you into the Steam Big Picture mode. Now you can use a mouse or keyboard but it's really designed to work with a gamepad. You can use a wired or wireless, Microsoft/Xbox gamepad. And here's the custom UI. You can launch into Steam that takes you into big picture mode. That's the television version of Steam. You can go into settings. And you could set your display resolution and connect to your network and do a few other things. So in the Steam big picture mode, any games you bought through the Steam service, and there are thousands fo games. And a lot of them are actually very expensive. Some of them are the same games you can get on console. Some of them are ones you can only play on a PC. All we've listed here you can download them, install them and you can run them. And hopefully if they have this little game controller icon, that means they'll work well with the controller. I found a bunch of games that actually. Don' have that controller icon. I have a keyboard icon, it'll still work fine with a controller. Now the catch is this box starts at 550 dollars. When it was first proposed the new gaming consoles cost, you know, 500 dollars like an Xbox One, those prices have come down since then so this is now 550 still to get into it. Is more expensive than the current generation console. The components inside are a little perplexing. It's almost better if you play around with this without knowing what the parts are because it only has an Intel Core i3 processor which you may think of as underpowered for a gaming system and the graphics card, it's a modified version of Nvidea's 860M which is a fine mainstream card, you know, not fantastic. But the way they've optimized the processor and the graphic's card actually works really well and I was able to play brand new games like. Far Cry 4 on kinda medium-ish settings that really look great on a television as opposed to being like on a big super high-res monitor, right up close to your face. And I found it to be, you know, as good or, or perhaps better than the console version in a lot of cases. So if you're willing to take a chance and work through some setup hiccups, we occasionally had to dig out a mouse to fix a few things, and we had a couple of problems early on. It's a little bit of a first-generation experience with the custom UI. Once we worked through all that, I actually found this a lot of fun and a great way to access my huge library of Steam games, and get them all up on my TV. Where frankly it, it feels more powerful than connecting to a current gen console. [MUSIC]