Alienware Alpha Review – The Alpha is one of the more remarkable pre-built gaming PCs that Aussies can buy. Designed by Alienware to deliver a full gaming PC experience in a form factor around half the size of a Playstation 4, it’s easily the smallest gaming PC money can buy. To make it so small Alienware had to get the help of NVIDIA to create a custom GPU, but can such a small, affordable box really deliver the performance demanded by today’s power-guzzling games? In a word, no.
We should highlight just how tiny the Alpha is, as that’s its key selling point. At 55mm high, by 200mm wide and long, it’s frickin’ small. The large external powerpack is about the same size as an Xbox 360’s though, so you’ll need to tuck that away as well. Twin USB 2.0 ports adorn the front, while twin USB 3.0 can be found on the rear. A single HDMI 1.4a output is provided, along with HDMI in and one optical audio out.
The custom Alpha interface is the first thing you’ll see when booting up this box, and it’s basically a way to interact with Steam and a few basic settings using the included wireless Xbox controller. From here it’s a cinch to launch Steam in bigpicture mode, removing the need entirely for a mouse and keyboard. Thankfully it’s possible to boot straight into Windows if you’d prefer.
Tucked away inside the tiny case is an impressive CPU, in the form of Intel’s Core i7-4765T, whose quad-cores max out at a decent top speed of 3GHz. It’s even got Hyperthreading. This is paired with 8GB of memory, while a whopping big 2TB hard drive takes care of storage. Obviously it’s mechanical, and without any form of SSD we noticed extremely sluggish desktop performance. Even installing our benchmarks took forever; on other systems Mordor would restore from a backup in about 2 minutes, but it took over 30 minutes on this system. Sadly there’s no option to upgrade this when ordering the Alpha, which puts it at an extreme disadvantage compared to a normal desktop PC, though it is possible to install one yourself if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.
Alienware doesn’t disclose the type of GPU used within, as it’s a custom critter, but it appears to be based on the GTX 860M… which is actually identical to a desktop GTX 750 Ti. That’s right, it’s using an entry-level GPU design from over a year ago, which is obviously going to hurt performance when compared to the GTX 960s found in other budget systems of a similar price point.
The Alpha simply doesn’t have the performance to handle 1080p or 2560 x 1440 at Ultra detail. Backing detail back to low results in playable performance, but in that case you’re better off playing the graphically superior PS4 version.
The Alpha is a great idea, but we wish Alienware had adopted a slightly larger chassis to accommodate a more powerful GPU and secondary SSD drive. As it stands, this is a novel concept but is far too expensive to act as a simple media and casual gaming box.
- Absolutely tiny
- Whisper quiet
- Good CPU
- Woeful GPU
- No SSD
- Poor overall performance
Alienware Alpha Specifications
- Fully customized specs
- Product page : http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-alpha/pd