Alienware Steam Machine joins revolution to bring PC gaming to the living room

Several signature Alienware design elements are making it to its Steam Machine

Alienware was a last-minute addition to the Steam Machine partner parade, so much so that its name didn't make it on the official welcome party banner.

That doesn't mean the company hadn't been in talks with Valve for some time about joining the other 12 manufactures that are building their on Steam Machines.

Now, the company is ready to reveal that its just-in-time console will launch in the second half of 2014.

Though there was only a mock-up device to show at a CES 2014 Valve event, Bryan De Zayas, global marketing direct at Alienware, told us that along with the release time frame, the design of the device is set.

"We designed it to fit next to a Blu-ray player on a shelf next to something else in your living room," he told us. "It is smaller than the Xbox One and PS4."

The Alienware Steam Machine is about the size of a book, though appropriately thick. De Zayas told us it's 8in x 8in x 3in. It's internals will include an Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU, but other than that, spec details are sparse.

Alienware through and through

Alienware brought several signature elements to its Steam Machine design, De Zayas said.

The company's cooling system, which sucks cold air through the bottom and expels it out the back end made its way to the machine.

A crisscross cut across the top is reminiscent of Alienware's desktops, and users will be able to press the console's alien head button to change the color of it and the Steam logo, a signature company watermark.

The Machine uses Valve's Controller as well as the SteamOS, creating a marriage between Valve's input and software and Alienware's hardware.

Valve involved

Ron Darwish, desktop product manager at Alienware, explained that the company and Valve have had an ongoing partnership, one that made it "an easy transition for us to support this new ecosystem."

"It's all about PC gaming, and what Valve is trying to do ties into seamlessly into the brand of Alienware and what we're all about," he continued. "It really enables PC gaming to [go to] the next frontier of the living room. For the first time, this kind of marries the controller, the software, and OS that is designed to be friendly in the living room with the SteamOS, all with the hardware to compliment it, all designed to live in that type of environment."


Bottom vent for cooling

Whereas most PC gaming happens in users' bedrooms or away from the main home hang-out areas, Darwish pointed out that Steam Machines make PC gaming a more shareable experience that anyone partake in.

"The controller is a big part of that," he said.

Not meant to replace PCs, Darwish called the Steam Machine "part of the portfolio."

"It's more a compliment to a new segment that's now being created with the help of Valve and what they're pushing for, and obviously us as a hardware manufacturer, looking at that solution and putting something together that's meaningful for the end users."

Competition is Alien-OK

We asked Darwish what it felt like to have 12 competitors already lined up without a product even on the market, and whether it is something that makes the company skittish about success.

"We think competition is great," he responded. "That's the area we live in. We're always competing, we're always pushing ourselves to produce better products for the user."

"For us, it's great to see so many different hardware manufacturers actually attaching to this, because it solidifies that this is a real and an attractive area for hardware manufactures to start actually developing or designs stuff," he went on.

Alienware has no plans to stop with this version of its Steam Machine, prompted by competition or not. Darwish called this the first iteration of a product in a new, exciting segment "that hasn't existed."

"There's a lot of excitement in this because it really does bring something new to the living room environment for PC gaming," he explained. "It's not the same ol', same ol'. It's something that really attracts a new user base, people that are looking to have that big PC gaming experience to the couch."

Just how much will this experience cost? Look for something competitive, Darwish teased.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.