A few weeks back Steam shared the news that the Steam Controller, their answer to controlling PC games from the couch, was going to be delayed into 2015. At the time I wondered what that would mean for all the partners that showed prototype Steam Machines at CES last January.
Well now we know, at least in one case. Alienware, who has already said that their Steam Machine will be the least profitable system they ever sell, has announced their intentions.
What was their Steam Machine is now called Alpha. It'll ship running 64-bit Windows 8.1 and comes packaged with a wireless Xbox 360 controller. Alienware has created some kind of custom GUI (shown only to the press at E3) that is controller-friendly and hides the Windows desktop and suppresses various UAC pop-ups and so forth. And of course the system will run Steam which has a "Big Picture Mode" that is already controller friendly.
Still, I suspect you're still going to need to keep some kind of mouse and keyboard handy; there's sure to be some situations that Alienware didn't account for, such as entering usernames and passwords into games that require them.
The Alpha will start at $549 and that model comes with an i3 processor, a 500 GB hard drive, and 4 GB of RAM. The 2 GB GPU is custom-built by Nvidia and (in a post on the system from earlier this week) VentureBeat says it offers "a hybrid of desktop and mobile functions," whatever that means.
Alienware will start taking pre-orders in Q3 and expects to ship the Alpha by Christmas. Here's a teaser that implies that Alpha is truly EXTREME:
I don't know about you, but that's how I always get to my couch.
Personally, an i3 with 4 GBs of RAM running Windows sounds pretty puny for running most of today's games, but I guess we'll see how this all shakes out.
Alienware does say they still expect to ship a proper Steam Machine once Valve has everything ready. The SteamOS powering a Steam Machine is based on Linux and is designed to run games well. Presumably that means lower hardware requirements than we have on Windows. I guess we'll find out for sure in 2015!
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