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Alienware's Steam Machine Won't Be Customizable
Posted , 22 January 2014 at 2:42 pm UTC / 4430 views
In another shocking move from one manufacturer, Alienware has decided to lock down their Steam Machine with no customization, no upgrades and a yearly refresh cycle...what?

Excuse me for a moment, but isn't the whole point of Steam Machines to be small and customizable? Seems this is another company that just doesn't 100% get what a Steam Machine is meant to be, although when you look a bit closer it does make sense.
They are marketing it at normal console buyers, they get a machine that works that they don't have to fuss around with, if they want a more powerful one in future they can opt to buy a later model and keep all the game they have purchased.

They have a rather nice video about it too, created by The Verge.

Although it gets a bit ruined when The Verge guys don't even state that Steam is available on Linux, it's like they don't even know what it is either:
QuoteRunning the SteamOS operating system which is a standlone version of its Steam app currently available for Windows & Mac.
I really thought they would do a little more research before releasing such a big video. It does state when Steam Machines are released we should have a number of big budget titles on Linux, can't wait to see what titles those are exactly.

Anyway, the Alienware box itself is pretty small, the size of an original Wii console apparently, which considering the power the unit will have is very promising.

What do you lot make of this? Sound off in the comments.

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Comments on this article are now closed.
Apopas commented on 22 January 2014 at 3:41 pm UTC

Is not a viable marketing method to mention Linux at all. That's why Google named Android it's Linux distro and that's why Alienware mentions SteamOS, windows and OSX but not Linux. I couldn't care less if it helps them to sell more machines. In the end it will be good for them and good for me and the other Linux users who will get more Linux games.
Now, about the not customizable part, it's obvious they target the average John who doesn't know how to change a dim of RAM in his computer. This is the biggest market share afterall.

Is not a viable marketing method to mention Linux at all. That's why Google named Android it's Linux distro and that's why Alienware mentions SteamOS, windows and OSX but not Linux. I couldn't care less if it helps them to sell more machines. In the end it will be good for them and good for me and the other Linux users who will get more Linux games. Now, about the not customizable part, it's obvious they target the average John who doesn't know how to change a dim of RAM in his computer. This is the biggest market share afterall.

Lapinopl commented on 22 January 2014 at 4:06 pm UTC

Here's what I think: If valve would just start selling a new console (like PS4 and Xbox one) public would be a lot less sceptic. People would't complaint about not many titles being available and all, they would say "its a new console, number of titles will grow"  But they are playing it right, they are honest about what there "console" is. A PC with Linux running on top (ps4 runs modified freeBSD and its a normal pc, xbox runs modified windows, also normal pc). So Alienware and its "console like" approach might be helpful, its simple people will buy it, and we will benefit from it. I hope anyone actually gonna understand what i wrote, its a bit chaotic .

Here's what I think: If valve would just start selling a new console (like PS4 and Xbox one) public would be a lot less sceptic. People would't complaint about not many titles being available and all, they would say "its a new console, number of titles will grow"  But they are playing it right, they are honest about what there "console" is. A PC with Linux running on top (ps4 runs modified freeBSD and its a normal pc, xbox runs modified windows, also normal pc). So Alienware and its "console like" approach might be helpful, its simple people will buy it, and we will benefit from it. I hope anyone actually gonna understand what i wrote, its a bit chaotic .

Half-Shot commented on 22 January 2014 at 4:31 pm UTC

I've noticed Linux has a bad reputation when for performance from some people, ironically in my computing class.
Its terrible that they don't even know that it powers most servers in the world, however I agree the drivers could be a lot better. This is why it would be hard for me to sell a Steambox to one of my friends because if I mention the L word the first thing they think of is low powered device which runs 10% of their steam library. This is very wrong and I want to see valve convince people that these myths are just that.

What's also interesting that i couldn't easily convince PC people either to go for a locked down device, its going to harm the sales more than increase it by locking it down since more and more people these days want that level of customizability. I'm pretty sure quite a few console players have swapped around hard drives and things and aren't afraid of a little upgradable console.

I've noticed Linux has a bad reputation when for performance from some people, ironically in my computing class. Its terrible that they don't even know that it powers most servers in the world, however I agree the drivers could be a lot better. This is why it would be hard for me to sell a Steambox to one of my friends because if I mention the L word the first thing they think of is low powered device which runs 10% of their steam library. This is very wrong and I want to see valve convince people that these myths are just that. What's also interesting that i couldn't easily convince PC people either to go for a locked down device, its going to harm the sales more than increase it by locking it down since more and more people these days want that level of customizability. I'm pretty sure quite a few console players have swapped around hard drives and things and aren't afraid of a little upgradable console.

adolson commented on 22 January 2014 at 7:41 pm UTC

We all knew that the Alienware machine wouldn't be upgradeable as soon as they showed us how tiny it is. You can't fit an old AGP video card in there, let alone a modern GeForce GTX PCIe card.

It's very likely not a Steam Machine I would buy, but the specs vs price could change that, as I rather like the design and size. True, I can't upgrade components, so the specs would have to justify that as well. I can't upgrade components in my Android tablet either, but I am free to upgrade to a new model down the road, and I can still play lots of new games. I don't need to buy a new tablet or new Steam Machine EVERY year if I don't want to. The old saying, "PC hardware is obsolete when you get it home" may be true on some level, but in practice you simply don't NEED the latest and greatest just to play new games. You can lower settings if you need to. And a first-gen Steam Machine should be fine as a secondary streaming box for another room of the house if you upgrade later on.

I'll probably build one myself, or buy a good upgradeable one. But I can see how this type of model can work. And luckily for all of us - it's not the only option.

We all knew that the Alienware machine wouldn't be upgradeable as soon as they showed us how tiny it is. You can't fit an old AGP video card in there, let alone a modern GeForce GTX PCIe card. It's very likely not a Steam Machine I would buy, but the specs vs price could change that, as I rather like the design and size. True, I can't upgrade components, so the specs would have to justify that as well. I can't upgrade components in my Android tablet either, but I am free to upgrade to a new model down the road, and I can still play lots of new games. I don't need to buy a new tablet or new Steam Machine EVERY year if I don't want to. The old saying, "PC hardware is obsolete when you get it home" may be true on some level, but in practice you simply don't NEED the latest and greatest just to play new games. You can lower settings if you need to. And a first-gen Steam Machine should be fine as a secondary streaming box for another room of the house if you upgrade later on. I'll probably build one myself, or buy a good upgradeable one. But I can see how this type of model can work. And luckily for all of us - it's not the only option.

philip550c commented on 22 January 2014 at 9:08 pm UTC

Alienware has said that they will in fact have two machines with the steamOS available, one it the steam machine mentioned in the article above, the other is the X51 which previously came with ubuntu installed. http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-x51/pd So if you want a customizable/configurable steam machine you can buy the X51 but if you want a more console like machine you can go with their official steam machine. The X51 will have the option of windows/steamos, they appear to have dropped support for ubuntu.

Alienware has said that they will in fact have two machines with the steamOS available, one it the steam machine mentioned in the article above, the other is the X51 which previously came with ubuntu installed. http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-x51/pd So if you want a customizable/configurable steam machine you can buy the X51 but if you want a more console like machine you can go with their official steam machine. The X51 will have the option of windows/steamos, they appear to have dropped support for ubuntu.

manny commented on 23 January 2014 at 4:09 am UTC

the Brix Pro given at steam Dev days, is also not customizable:




They both Way too small, however am sure you can swap ram and HDDs.

Variety and competition is good since it will help keep the prices at a good range.

the Brix Pro given at steam Dev days, is also not customizable: [youtube]Zyv_pFS4_Qs[/youtube] They both Way too small, however am sure you can swap ram and HDDs. Variety and competition is good since it will help keep the prices at a good range.

Apopas commented on 23 January 2014 at 1:02 pm UTC

Quote from LapinoplI hope anyone actually gonna understand what i wrote, its a bit chaotic .
I do and you are absolutely right!

[quote=Quote from Lapinopl]I hope anyone actually gonna understand what i wrote, its a bit chaotic .[/quote] I do and you are absolutely right!

Adnum commented on 23 January 2014 at 5:19 pm UTC

I was optimistic about Steam Machines until the unveiling event. I really don't think the majority of the Steam Machines that will be available will be price competitive. When you charge the price of a PC for a brand new "console," most people will just buy a new PC. Unless something changes (ie. more affordable consoles from more sources), I don't think the Steam Machine enterprise will ultimately be successful.

I was optimistic about Steam Machines until the unveiling event. I really don't think the majority of the Steam Machines that will be available will be price competitive. When you charge the price of a PC for a brand new "console," most people will just buy a new PC. Unless something changes (ie. more affordable consoles from more sources), I don't think the Steam Machine enterprise will ultimately be successful.

Xpander commented on 24 January 2014 at 11:58 am UTC

   
not really.. most people dont know how to build PC's so they buy pre-built and pay more because of that.
if the box is smaller, then ofc it costs a little more.

yeah some of the steam machines seemed to be way too overpriced but some were fairly good..
people like you, me and many more ofc will buy PC piece by piece and then install it.. and get a lot cheaper that way.. but we are only a minority i think.

also think about that.. lets say console costs $499 and average steam machine $699 (not talking about those $2k ones) average console game costs $60, while on steam you get away with $40 in most cases... that means with 10 titles you already have the same amount of money wasted on console.

    not really.. most people dont know how to build PC's so they buy pre-built and pay more because of that. if the box is smaller, then ofc it costs a little more. yeah some of the steam machines seemed to be way too overpriced but some were fairly good.. people like you, me and many more ofc will buy PC piece by piece and then install it.. and get a lot cheaper that way.. but we are only a minority i think. also think about that.. lets say console costs $499 and average steam machine $699 (not talking about those $2k ones) average console game costs $60, while on steam you get away with $40 in most cases... that means with 10 titles you already have the same amount of money wasted on console.

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