Alienware Alpha Intel-Powered SFF Gaming PC: Consoles Beware

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Systems like the Alienware Alpha are designed to bridge the gap between PC and console gaming experiences – and they’re attempting this without the SteamOS and new-fangled controller that got everyone stirred last year. There is an audience for the Alienware Alpha and systems like it, but that audience isn’t as big as it would be if that slick touch controller had panned out as originally intended. 

Our take is that today’s buyer for a living room PC is someone who has a serious gaming rig on a desk somewhere, but sometimes wishes he or she could fire up Steam Big Picture and play a bit from the couch. That scenario takes some pressure off the Alpha and in that situation, we think it’s a solid purchase. The Alpha can handle games at reasonable settings on your 1080p TV just fine, and that’s what it’s designed to do. Cutting edge titles with all in-game image quality settings maxed out will hammer on the Alpha's GeForce GTX 860M class GPU, but turning down the image quality settings will alleviate that issue.

The entry-level Alpha’s scores in our benchmarks may not be too thrilling, but that’s because it’s necessarily pitted against other PCs. Those systems have the room for higher-end components and aren’t designed for your living room. In the real world, the Alpha performs quite well as a PC console. 
As configured, our test system didn't rip though Windows 8.1 and general computing tasks as fast as we'd like, mostly due to the use of a relatively slow hard drive in the system, but that’s not a big deal if you plan to use it only for gaming or even just for occasional Web surfing. And that’s what it’s really there for, right? It’s a console PC, not your main PC. If you use it as anything other than a console or HTPC the Alpha may not be ideal. If you buy the Alpha for the console computer that it is and you don’t have unrealistic expectations for the gaming experience though, the Alpha might be just right for you.

  • Handles games nicely on HDTV
  • Small footprint, cool chassis
  • Upgradeable design (for such a small system)
  • Low power consumption and noise
  • Can't compete with larger PCs
  • Begging For An SSD

Tags:  Dell, SFF, Gaming, PC, Alpha, Alienware

Related content