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Alienware Alpha, the not-a-Steam-Machine gaming rig is available for preorder today

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 13, 2014
Plus: We get a look at the Alpha's console-like user interface, which allows you to run the whole system without ever seeing Windows 8.1.

"A lot of other competitors out there, they're like 'Oh we just take you right into Steam Big Picture.' That's just one part of the challenge of taking PC gaming into the living room," says Diana. Alpha is a full user experience, divorced from any of the hassles of Windows itself. You should never see a desktop. You should never see a stock Windows notification.

It's ambitious and crazy and might go horribly wrong. I have no way of knowing how the end product will fare--Alienware is even being cagey about what sort of graphics performance we can compare the Alpha to, though they did show me the system running Dark Souls II with maxed-out settings at more than 60 frames per second. It's definitely no slouch, especially for $550.

We'll have a review as soon as we get our hands on a system; but for now, the Alpha looks like it might be the box to finally bring PC gaming into mainstream living rooms. If you decide you want SteamOS down the road--if and when it ever becomes available--Alienware will let you switch. But that'll be a one-way trip: You won't be able to dual boot and you won't be able to go back. 


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