You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 02, 2016, 08:43:08 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha  (Read 644 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BitterSweetTopic starter

Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« on: July 14, 2015, 12:14:08 PM »
(also,not sure if this should go somewhere else)

I'm looking at the fact that several games I *really* want are PC only games (Xcom 2, I'm looking at you) but I don't especially want a huge desktop cluttering my small apartment (I use a laptop for my computer needs).

However, it looks like Alienware Alpha might do the trick for me.  It is a PC gaming rig designed to look and function similarly to a console.

Anyone here use it?

I am technologically dumb so ... If I bought the basic rig, and opened the box, what would I need to do in order to play a game (I know you need a Steam account, and have one)?  Would I need *any* other equipment to get the device up and running?

Basically, if you bought this for your technologically inept grandmother who also loved to play video games, what would you do to make sure it worked for her?

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 01:41:11 PM »
Can you get the specs for the PC you want to buy?

By in large the only thing that seems to irk most people is that Alienware has to use Dell parts which means they get to ramp the price if you need it fixed.

Offline Kyrsa

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 01:47:09 PM »
You log into your steam account and any games you own through steam that are compatible with the OS on the machine is playable after downloading it to the machine.  You don't need any other equipment except the controller, which I assume comes with it.  Do research and make sure that the games you are going to want to play will actually play on it, that's the only catch.  A lot of games are not compatible. 

Offline Rogue

  • The Bratling ~ her Mx ~ they/them unless other pronouns/gender are specified please~
  • Champion
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Nov 2012
  • Location: delens solem lunam facti sunt ei
  • ~Edenmon Master~ ~GenderFluid~
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 03:53:19 PM »
Can you get the specs for the PC you want to buy?

By in large the only thing that seems to irk most people is that Alienware has to use Dell parts which means they get to ramp the price if you need it fixed.

The major problem with building your own cpu is they tend to be bulky. GF has the Alienware aurora not because she couldn't build it but because it's only slightly bigger than the 360.

Keep in mind the benefits to having a built pc greatly out weigh the size benefits. There's no guarantee that the ram (or any upgradable pieces) would be easy to get to. However, if you don't know how to build a PC or work with the hardware there's no point. As long as the specs are good for the games you're playing, haven't had a problem with our Alienware.

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 03:57:34 PM »
The major problem with building your own cpu is they tend to be bulky. GF has the Alienware aurora not because she couldn't build it but because it's only slightly bigger than the 360.

Keep in mind the benefits to having a built pc greatly out weigh the size benefits. There's no guarantee that the ram (or any upgradable pieces) would be easy to get to. However, if you don't know how to build a PC or work with the hardware there's no point. As long as the specs are good for the games you're playing, haven't had a problem with our Alienware.
I don't follow, what does that have to do with what I asked about the topic. :\

Offline Rogue

  • The Bratling ~ her Mx ~ they/them unless other pronouns/gender are specified please~
  • Champion
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Nov 2012
  • Location: delens solem lunam facti sunt ei
  • ~Edenmon Master~ ~GenderFluid~
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2015, 04:05:02 PM »
I don't follow, what does that have to do with what I asked about the topic. :\

Has to do with what I read. Not what was asked. >.> forgive me Ink.

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2015, 04:59:54 PM »
Has to do with what I read. Not what was asked. >.> forgive me Ink.
No harm, no foul, quote just confused me. XD

Offline BitterSweetTopic starter

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2015, 05:01:40 PM »
Can you get the specs for the PC you want to buy?

By in large the only thing that seems to irk most people is that Alienware has to use Dell parts which means they get to ramp the price if you need it fixed.

The Alienware Alpha is what I want to buy.  It's basically a Dell/windows gaming computer designed to function more like a console (which is what I'm used to for gaming).  It gets good reviews.  What I'm trying to find out is what else I might need to purchase (if anything) that is hardware related to make it work out of the box.  I don't want to change out the hard drive, build anything from scratch - I don't have the energy, patience or expertise -  I just don't want to buy the thing, have it show up on my doorstop, open the box and then find out I need ... 100+$ of peripherals to actually use it.

I have a steam account, I'm aware of the games there, software is not an issue.

Offline Tsenta

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 06:19:29 PM »
Alienware is notorious for being heavily overpriced, but in the same note buying pre-built also lessens the stress of getting a rig. There's also three different Alpha models, which one are you eyeing?

Offline BitterSweetTopic starter

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 06:35:52 PM »
Alienware is notorious for being heavily overpriced, but in the same note buying pre-built also lessens the stress of getting a rig. There's also three different Alpha models, which one are you eyeing?

Likely the cheapest one: ~499$.  I don't do multiplayer/have a million things running at once/stream movies/music etc while I'm gaming so I'm usually fine with the lower end machines.

Less stress is what I'm going for.

I gather from further looking ... it comes with a controller but you need a keyboard and mouse to do the initial set-up, which it doesn't have.

Offline Tsenta

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 06:38:11 PM »
Yeah it should be compatible with any USB keyboard/mouse though,  what about screens/televisions. Do you have a TV/Monitor with HDMI input?

Also, the cheaper build it should run things but it's going to stall on bigger games a little. Core i3 and only 2gigs RAM can be a bit of a performance hit.

Edit: On second notice, cheaper build comes with 4gigs ram. Which is optimum for gaming. I dunno about that i3 though.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 06:41:15 PM by Tsenta »

Offline BitterSweetTopic starter

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 06:44:41 PM »
Yeah it should be compatible with any USB keyboard/mouse though,  what about screens/televisions. Do you have a TV/Monitor with HDMI input?

Also, the cheaper build it should run things but it's going to stall on bigger games a little. Core i3 and only 2gigs RAM can be a bit of a performance hit.

Edit: On second notice, cheaper build comes with 4gigs ram. Which is optimum for gaming. I dunno about that i3 though.

Yup, I have a monitor with HDMI and a mouse, would need to get a keyboard - or borrow one.  Evidently, they've updated the UI just this last month to make it easier to use, though I don't know if it still requires a keyboard for set-up to allow for the download of the new UI (which isn't quite out for general consumption yet).

I don't have 400$ sitting in my pocket at the moment but it looks like what I've been looking for: small, PC game compatilbe and doesn't require much intelligence from me to get off the ground.

ETA: I'm also not obsessed with counting the ants in Skyrim so 'medium' graphics usually works just fine for me.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 06:48:11 PM by BitterSweet »

Offline Tsenta

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 06:47:54 PM »
You should be able to run many games, perhaps not the huge ones like Witcher 3 without a chunk of FPS missing though. Many games on steam also don't offer controller support, so it's good to have a mouse and keyboard handy anyway. 

The core i3 nags at me but that's just cause I'm anal about getting max performance.  It also depends on the graphics card, which they don't go into too much detail about sadly.   

Offline Kyrsa

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 07:12:22 PM »
My understanding is that the steamos is Linux based. It will not run games that do not run on Linex. It wont run a lot of games that steam sells.

Offline Tsenta

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2015, 07:17:12 PM »
My understanding is that the steamos is Linux based. It will not run games that do not run on Linex. It wont run a lot of games that steam sells.

The Alienware Alpha comes with Win8.

Offline sleepingferret

  • Knight
  • Seducer
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2008
  • Location: Someplace with warm weather and no silly politicians...oh wait, that'd be my dreams
  • Gender: Male
  • Conflict is inevitable...How we solve it, matters.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2015, 12:59:47 AM »
I personally wouldn't buy anything with less than an i5, if you're wanting it for gaming.  The type of graphics card will make a big difference as well, but if the CPU itself can't handle the rest having a rig that has parts capable of giving you an awesome picture, won't mean much.

If you want a balance between "cutting corners" and still being happy with your investment, the i5 is a much better choice than the i3.

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2015, 06:43:45 AM »
I'm pretty happy with my i5. :3

I'm with BitterSweet though. I just want my PC to play XCOM 2, but they've not released any specs yet. :'(

Offline consortium11

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2015, 03:57:04 PM »
To get the basic questions out the way:

The only peripheral you should need is a screen; either buy a monitor (which may be a little expensive depending on the quality you get) or a TV with an HDMI socket; most modern TV's come with at least one so if your TV already has one then all you'll need is an HDMI lead to connect your TV and the Alpha.

You may well also want to get a keyboard and mouse; while many games these days come with console controller support (and Alpha's seem to ship with a wireless X-Box controller) and one of the few details we have on X-COM 2 is that it will support controllers you may prefer a mouse and keyboard in general and some specific games might require one. A simple keyboard and mouse combination (even wireless) shouldn't really you set you back much.

Without the specs of X-COM 2 having been released I can't say if the Alpha would be able to handle it. It's certainly not what one would call a particularly powerful system. i3 processors are somewhat weak, 4 gigs of RAM is distinctly underwhelming and the graphics card is pretty lightweight. It's also built primary using mobile components which leaves a pretty considerable gap to desktop ones. That said if you're not looking for high end performance and can put up with fairly low framerates, low graphical settings and the like it should be fine. X-COM wasn't the most intensive of games and I doubt the sequel will be. With what little we know now I'd expect the entry level Alpha to be able to run X-COM 2 pretty well, as long as you're willing to turn down most of the graphical options.



The more opinion based part?

The Alpha is basically marking up its cost twice. First due to the small form factor; smaller products cost more to get the same performance which is why high end gaming laptops cost considerably more than a gaming desktop with similar specs. Secondly due to the brand name; Alienware products tend to be expensive for what they are. That said, the Alpha doesn't appear particularly outrageous in that regard; you're probably paying around $100 more than you would if you had a custom PC builder put it together for you with comparable parts but unlike with custom builds you shouldn't have to worry about overlooking something or parts not working together.

If you were looking for the Alpha to be your primary gaming system rather than one for a couple of games, the most notable of which is unlikely to be the most system intensive, then I'd look past the entry level version for the more expensive options... and once you start looking at the more expensive options I'd suggest that's about the time you look for a specific gaming desktop. But in the situation you're in I don't think the Alpha is that bad an option. It's not a bargain by any means, nor are you getting any high end stuff... but it does the job at a reasonable price and should be pretty easy to use and work with.

Offline BitterSweetTopic starter

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2015, 08:55:14 PM »
It does sound like the cheapest Alpha is a little too limited to allow me much forward use as games continue to bloat in size.  I'll have to think on getting the mid range.

Quote
I'd suggest that's about the time you look for a specific gaming desktop

And here is my problem.  I found the Alpha by doing a search but I don't even know what to search for to find a more powerful rig (of the off-the-shelf type) in a similar price point.  When I do a search for pc gaming desktops, I get reviews for things that cost 7K (not including peripherals), and much of the review is so technical that I don't understand enough to be able to compare it with other rigs.  Unless the computer is actually going to fly me to the moon, I'm not going to pay that much.

Do you have suggestions for something 550$ or less with an i5 comparable [tech object name], that I wouldn't have to build?

Offline consortium11

Re: Opinions?: Alienware Alpha
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2015, 05:00:37 AM »
It does sound like the cheapest Alpha is a little too limited to allow me much forward use as games continue to bloat in size.  I'll have to think on getting the mid range.

As a general rule if you're not going to be upgrading your computer yourself (and while one apparently can upgrade the Alpha without voiding the warranty the lack of space makes it difficult even if one does have the knowledge to do so) I'd always suggest getting at least a mid-tier model just to give you some level of future-proofing.

At the same time that's very much a general rule but not a universal one. There aren't that many AAA games (which tend to be the most system intensive) that are PC exclusives these days with most being multi-platform and many PC ports either being buggy or not taking advantage of the additional power a PC has. If the PC exclusive games you're interested in aren't monsters that demand a high level rig then you have to ask yourself whether slightly prettier graphics and/or a slightly better framerate for the couple of games you're going to play on it are worth the extra expense in getting a better system.

What I would suggest is if XCOM 2 is your main reason for getting the Alpha then hold-off on buying it at least till the specs come out... there'd be little worse than buying the basic Alpha only to find three months later that it can't run XCOM 2. I don't think that will be the case but it's something to keep in mind. If you can resist getting XCOM 2 on launch then it may be worth waiting until the first couple of dedicated PC reviews are in so the performance on different sorts of systems can be judged.

Overall the Alpha looks to be one of the better "Steam machines" (small form factor PC's designed to offer a console like user experience for PC gaming) both in terms of performance and price. The small size and Alienware label drive the price up compared to non-brand, full size PC's but not by a vast amount and while the specs for the entry level are slightly underwhelming (personally I'd like 8 gigs of RAM rather than 4) they're not deal breaking, especially if you are only really using it to game (a 500 gig hard drive is pretty small but it should be more than enough to hold a dozen or so games).

And here is my problem.  I found the Alpha by doing a search but I don't even know what to search for to find a more powerful rig (of the off-the-shelf type) in a similar price point.  When I do a search for pc gaming desktops, I get reviews for things that cost 7K (not including peripherals), and much of the review is so technical that I don't understand enough to be able to compare it with other rigs.  Unless the computer is actually going to fly me to the moon, I'm not going to pay that much.

Oh, I absolutely appreciate that. I see the high end rig or component reviews as being roughly similar to car magazines or websites reviewing supercars; somewhat interesting to read but unlikely to be bought by any but the most rich and hardcore of enthusiasts. Likewise trying to work out what the hell the different components actually mean or do can be a minefield.

Do you have suggestions for something 550$ or less with an i5 comparable [tech object name], that I wouldn't have to build?

I'm in a slight bit of difficulty as I'm UK based and our prices are somewhat higher than in the US; for an obvious example the entry level Alpha model from Dell's website is $499 in the US... and 499 (roughly $780) in the UK. That means the custom build company I use and tend to recommend is going to look expensive in comparison.

A quick google suggests that this system may fulfill your needs. If you ignore the vast, ugly and offputting list of options and just stick to the base model then the processor gives comparable (and often superior) performance to an i5, it's got twice as much RAM as the Alpha and twice as much hard disk space for $579. The only concern is the graphics card; the one that comes with it is very much the entry level of entry level cards and it's the area I'd look to spend some money; upgrading to the AMD Radeon R7 250 sets you back $50 and the AMD Radeon R7 260X is $80, both of which push the price up considerably. If your budget can stretch to around $630 then this appears to be a like-for-like better system; same graphics card but an i5, twice as much ram and twice as much hard disk space.

Basically the issue is this; an i5 (or equivalent) tends to push the price up to around the $600-$650 range. To use another supplier as an example, this computer is in your $550 price range and offers twice as much RAM and hard disk space as the Alpha but the AMD processor is basically the equivalent of an i3 for gaming (and it should be noted the graphics card is fairly poor). This computer is largely like-for-like better than the Alpha (i5 instead of i3 and again twice as much RAM and hard disk space... although again the graphics card is pretty low end)... but it's $650.

Someone with more knowledge of the prices and best custom build companies in the US would likely be able to help you more however; they may be in a better place to suggest other options.