Dell Turns Up the Heat with Their Alienware Steam Machine

SteamMachine1If last year’s Consumer Electronics Show was any indication of things to come, then the future of living room gaming just may lie in the hot hands of the Steam Machine. After years of speculation and hints of a 2014 arrival, it appears that Valve’s project, formerly dubbed the “Steam Box”, is finally coming to fruition. The premise of this amazing little brainchild of Valve is to function as a small personal computer running the SteamOS (a living-room-friendly version of the Steam app), but is specifically designed to function directly with your television. For the gamers out there, you are likely aware of Valve’s notoriety in the software world from the rabid success of games like Half-Life and Portal. While Valve won’t actually be doing the dirty work to produce the steamy little gaming box, never fear – several manufacturers have already commenced production of machines with varying speeds and specifications.

SteamMachineSeveral companies have already signed on to produce these micro PC’s, but the one currently generating the most buzz is the Alienware Steam Machine; a unit being produced by Dell’s gaming PC brand Alienware. Aside from a few leaked photos that indicate a sleek, boxy design, and some very vague allusions to cost (Alienware’s website states only that “the price will be competitive with the next generation consoles”), much of what we’ve heard so far has been purely speculative. Here’s what we do know – the console will have an Intel CPU and NVIDIA GPU, a departure from the gaming norm set by Sony and Microsoft, who use AMD hardware. After meticulous systems testing, Alienware stated that NVIDIA’s technology simply aligns best with their Steam Machine criteria at this time. Additionally, Alienware has announced that it will update its Steam Machine hardware every year, which is creating some heated debate in the online gaming community.

SteamMachine2Interested parties following the progress of the Steam Machine have spent the last few weeks discussing the pros and cons of a console that requires such regular hardware updates. While Alienware has clarified that the Steam Machine will technically be upgradeable, it won’t be a walk in the park to accomplish. By way of explanation for this decision, the company stated that “considering we’ve purposefully designed the Alienware Steam Machine to be smaller than the latest generation of consoles, upgrading the internal components will not be as easy as compared to other platforms, such as the Alienware X51, but we will not prevent a customer from upgrading”. That being said, general manager Frank Azor pointed out that in an ever-changing and advancing PC gaming environment, the SteamOS will be key to staying up-to-date. Put simply, “if you update your hardware, your games will still be there and work”.

The Alienware Steam Machine is slated for arrival in late 2014 in the United States, and will start arriving in other countries around the world shortly after (no official country list has been release yet). In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on news and specs as they develop here.

Topics: Technology News CES - Consumer Electronics Show Dell Mini / Nano PCs

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