We first heard rumors of a Steambox back in 2013. Supposedly Valve, the makers of Steam, were partnering with Dell to create a console to compete with the new generation of consoles. That ended up not coming to fruition until recently in 2015 (there were reportedly controller issues), but in the meantime Dell made their own Steambox, the Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console (ad).
This device, first released in 2014, is really just a Windows desktop that is meant to be used with your television with you sitting 10 feet away. The device comes with an Xbox 360 controller for now, although you will soon be able to buy the Xbox One controller adapter and an Xbox One controller with the Alienware Alpha. The device comes with Windows 8 installed, but you can upgrade to Windows 10 and many users have found that Windows 10 makes the device run smoother and faster.
Using the Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console
A lot of people have said that it is better to first try this console out and then look at the specs. That is because the device runs a lot better than you might think if you were going by the specs. For instance, some graphically challenging games like The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 4 run fine on the device.
In fact, the experience using the Alpha is pretty great all around. The interface can feel a little clunky with Windows 8 or if you try the special Alienware software, but going to Windows 10 feels good and is easy to use. Some people have mentioned that you need a mouse, but I found that you can use your controller as a mouse.
For me, it was a bit weird to go back to an Xbox 360 controller after using an Xbox One controller for the past two years. However, once Microsoft’s new Xbox One adapter comes out, you will no longer need to do that.
I should mention that Origin can be installed and runs fine on the Alpha.
|Console||Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console|
|Display||1920 x 1080|
|CPU||Core i3 4130T|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce 860M|
Looking at the specs, I think it is pretty clear that this would NOT make for a top-of-the-line desktop or laptop. The specs indicate a cheap laptop, although one with an okay, but not great, graphics card. The processor, RAM, and storage are all sub-par. I do like that the device is really sleek looking and is quite a bit smaller than either the Xbox One or PS4.
The Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console (ad) is a conundrum. It works quite well, much better than the specs would indicate. However, the price (typically around $400) means it costs slightly more than the Xbox One or PS4, and is priced near PCs that I would consider superior.
If you want to be able to play Steam or Origin on your television, I think you’d be better off with a PC and the Xbox One controller and adapter.
If you just want convenience, it would be better to get the Xbox One or PS4. You could make the case that this device would be cheaper longterm than the Xbox One or PS4 as games on Steam often cost less, Steam doesn’t require a subscription for multiplayer, they have a lot of deals, and they have a warranty/return program.