OS Neutral Anyone considering the Alienware Alpha?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by iMacFarlane, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. iMacFarlane, Oct 20, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014

    iMacFarlane macrumors 65816

    iMacFarlane

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    #1
    I, like many of you out there, have been waiting a while for Apple to update the Mini, or surprise us with some sort of entry into the gaming sector. Gaming has surpassed movies and television as the leader in money and time spent by the average Joe for entertainment, and I thought it was time Apple thought outside the box and stuck their toe in the water, especially with the whole "Steam Box" idea that is bubbling to the surface.

    WWDC came and went, and so did the recent "update" to the Mini. I've got a MBP to do OS X on, I just want to game for God's sake, so time to give up on some solution from Apple.

    Have any of you taken a hard look at the Alienware Alpha? It's really starting to get some good press from various sources. Dell has finally divulged the processors available for it and the make of the proprietary GPU. And, there have been a number of recent videos showing 1080P/high settings performance over a wide range of games, and the FPS is consistently above 50, sometimes into the 80's or 90's. And that's on the base config, i3. I'm interested in the i5 (4590) or i7 (4765), so they would only be better than those videos show.

    The bundled GPU is a special version of a Maxwell-based GTX 870M, and it looks like a pretty capable GPU on the sites I've checked on.

    What do you guys think? Every other blog/news site I read comments on, it's always a ton of guys saying how much they hate Alienware (with no basis given), or how you could build a better rig for half the cost (but GPU and CPU on offer alone would exceed that value).

    I'd love to hear what the calmer, more collected, typically more intelligent, and never emotional or biased (okay, I'm kidding now :p ) user base of MacRumors has to say on it.
     
  2. Plutonius macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    #2
    I know people who had alienware computers. The computers all ended up dying after a year (the usual problem was a graphics card) and they were no longer supported by alienware. You would end up doing much better building your own computer with quality parts.
     
  3. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #3
    I know people that used Alienware rigs 24/7/365 for years without issue. My comment is equally based on empty anecdotal evidence. And only true gamers build their rigs!

    /s

    ---

    OP, I am 110% interested in how this plays out. I'm incredibly disappointed Valve seems to have bit off more than it can chew with its controller and has backtracked to basically an Xbox controller, which still isn't ready, so the Alienware is shipping with one.

    I am a former serious gamer now somewhere between a casual and moderately committed gamer, depending on real life responsibilities. Pretty much any game I play now is on Steam and I have little motivation to build a real rig. The footprint, price point, and performance this device offers is incredibly appealing to me - someone without a dedicated gaming rig and prefers PC to console.

    And you know what the best part? This is just the first mainstream device. There's plenty more in the pipeline and if they do moderately well, more generations to come. They'll only get better at price per performance and perhaps be a true alternative to the old gaming rig.
     
  4. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #4
    Alienware hardware is cheap crap sold at a high price. I'd avoid. From what I've seen, Alienware computers cost a lot and don't last long.
     
  5. iMacFarlane thread starter macrumors 65816

    iMacFarlane

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    #5
    Hey all, thanks for the feedback.

    So, I got curious and started researching the parts on this thing. I went to pcpartpicker and built a microATX rig with the i5 4590, a GTX 750 ti, 1TB 5400 HDD, microATX mobo, case, $50 mouse (to cover xbox controller cost), windows 8.1, and 8gb ram. Alienware wants $799 for this variant, and pcpartpicker quoted $805! Shot the whole "overpriced" angle.
    I chose the 750 ti as the 860m is a laptop part and wasn't available. As a pleasant surprise, I researched the difference between the two and found that the 860m ekes out as the better card over the 750ti.

    I'm set unless some damning info breaks, this thing looks reasonably priced and very capable. Anxiously awaiting November 21st now.

    Peace. :)
     
  6. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #6
    Did some more research on latest Alpha stories - I knew it was coming out late Nov/Dec, so I guess the media train is rolling now - and they're showing brand new games at full resolution, high textures, high/medium settings (depending on the game) running at mostly 40-60 FPS. Watchdogs seems to have the most fluctuations, but reviews said that was fairly standard for most rigs.

    I guess that means this little $549 box can run any current and say 2 years out games at Medium+ full resolution, plus your entire backlog of PC games and Steam library. That's really not a bad first gen device. Bit of a higher system price point than a console, but games will probably run you less. Upgrading costs for RAM/HD/SSD might swing things back in favor of consoles, but it's not a bad start for mainstream living room boxes in the battle against consoles and media consumption devices. Note the key word of "mainstream" there. I know plenty of tech geeks here have an old tower or custom built micro ATX case in their entertainment system, but it's still not the case for most people just yet.
     
  7. cerote macrumors 6502a

    cerote

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    #7
    I have been thinking about it too. I'm not looking for some all out gaming rig since I mostly play on consoles.
     
  8. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Well, you can't get dual GPUs in any Apple Laptop. You can configure their notebooks to pretty insane specs with an 18", but the resolution is still pretty low though. They'd be great if you needed a purpose built gaming laptop.

    All in all, I'd prefer to build my own though, so that you're not using any integrated parts that couldn't be swapped out once upgrade time comes. You don't need any kind of crazy GPU since until you're using a 4K TV, you'll be running at 1920x1080.

    I don't know if they have this yet (because steam box looks great and all, but it is a Linux based OS) but having a Windows based interface that you could boot in to and play your games from that's similar to a XBONE or PS interface would be awesome. That way, you don't have to mess with mouses, keyboards, and what not. It doesn't even have to be a new OS, just an interface that loads once window comes up via start up or whatever.

    I'm going to build myself an HTPC one day and I'll have gaming capabilities integrated in to it.
     
  9. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #9
    Ask and ye shall receive!
     
  10. cerote macrumors 6502a

    cerote

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    #10
    That's what Alienware did here also with the alpha. Loads custom front end on Windows 8.1. It does not ship with keyboard and mouse; just xbox controller. You can have it set to boot right up into steam if you like also. Or you could use keyboard and mouse and use it for other stuff. That's semi why I am interested as this would be connected to main tv.
     
  11. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #11
    cerote beat me to it mostly. Alienware didn't want to wait for Steam to keep fixing its OS and decided to go ahead with 8.1 with a custom overlay for gaming only. However, if you wish, you can exit out of it and use it just like any other 8.1 computer. Plus it's good to go to add Steam OS once that is live if you want the 'complete' Steam Machine experience.
     
  12. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    That's good. The only reason I'd build my own is for upgradability. I'm pretty sure a mobile GPU isn't going to be upgradable whereas a small form factor computer or small tower would be. Yes, I know the size is larger and kind of defeats the purpose, but having a machine you'd never have to totally sell when if comes to upgrade time would rock.

    If they're marketed right, I could see these taking a dent out of the console market. Well, that and Windows gets day 1 releases for AAA games, especially shooters. Essentially, you would probably never need to biggest and best hardware to run the latest games unless you're using a 4K TV and if you are, well then you don't have to wait for a console update and games to enable 4K resolution.
     
  13. JamesPDX Suspended

    JamesPDX

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    #13
    I cringed a little when I read, "they got bought by Dell" as I did not know this until just now. I'd like a computer that never requires me to call tech support. -That's the machine for me. No shortcuts in the build, nothing with cheap 13-cent capacitors that cause a power supply or MB failure. Suggestions?
     
  14. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Yeah, here's and article dated 3/22/2006 about the acquisition.
     
  15. JamesPDX Suspended

    JamesPDX

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    #15
    2006?

    Whoops.
     
  16. SomeGuyDude macrumors 6502a

    SomeGuyDude

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    #16
    Hahaha nailed it.

    It does bug me that they don't say what the GPU is on the website, though.
     
  17. iMacFarlane thread starter macrumors 65816

    iMacFarlane

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    #17
  18. iMacFarlane thread starter macrumors 65816

    iMacFarlane

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    #18
    Well, it's ordered and on it's way. I went all out and sprung for the i7, 2TB HD, 8GB RAM, should be here on the 25th or 26th. I picked up an awesome solar-powered wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse, and my library of 312 Steam games is waiting patiently.

    Boo. Yah.

    Xbox 360 is dead. Long live the Alpha!
     
  19. malman89 macrumors 68000

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    #19
    Congrats. I'm still waiting to get some reviews in before pulling the trigger myself. Definitely going to keep my eye out for any news.
     
  20. roadbloc macrumors G3

    roadbloc

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    #20
    Big Picture :)
     
  21. blesscheese macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

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    #21
    Mind me asking how much it cost (in round figures)?
     
  22. monokitty macrumors regular

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    #22
    Nice. I'm waiting on the reviews and your own personal opinion on the machine when you receive it. I was contemplating the quad-core i5 $799 version; I wouldn't get a dual-core PC for gaming these days, but I also don't think I'd need the i7, and definitely don't need the 2TB HDD.
     
  23. iMacFarlane thread starter macrumors 65816

    iMacFarlane

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    #23
    Sure. I picked up the top-end model, $899 retail. The solar wireless keyboard was $59, cheap mouse was $20. Pricey for a console, but this thing is a full-blown Windows box with a big drive and fast processor. I'm pretty stoked.

    I will definitely update the thread with my unboxing/setup opinions, and some rough benchmarks/performance impressions after I've had a chance to run it awhile.

    First things first though, Skyrim + Mods. Really looking forward to seeing how pretty I can make it and maintain fluid framerates. I'm using a 720P TV, which is not optimal, but it'll surely beat the tar out of my Xbox for visual effects, framerate, and obviously, my huge library of games (already bought and paid for!).
     
  24. mandoman macrumors 6502

    mandoman

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    #24
    I'll be keeping an eye on this device. If it comes close to approaching console like ease of use, no keyboard/mouse required with good game controller support, I'll be in.

    While more expensive than a console, games are MUCH cheaper, especially if you take advantage of those awesome steam sales. Just got to avoid becoming a game slut-hoarder buying hundreds of steam sale games because they are only a couple of bucks, knowing full well I'd never find time to play them all...
     
  25. Essenar macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I feel like the people on this site used to read articles and keep up with information back in like 1998 and for 16 years now, they haven't read or kept up with anything. And they just throw their ancient anecdotal outdated evidence around like it's current and relevant.

    "My buddy had an Alienware with a Pentium 3 and when he was playing Quake 3 Arena it totally died and they never answered his priority typewritten mailed response about it! BLEGH! Home built!"

    Alienware is solid and has been much more solid since the Dell acquisition.

    Building your own is good but not as affordable as it used to be. I've set up price lists on Newegg and Amazon for parts and I literally had to dig around on Google shopping for what seemed like hours just to get my prices to match an iBuyPower preconfigured system. And with Dell, they have their outlet and good luck beating that.

    Sure you can't OC the processor but who really DOES that when they're not even tech inclined to eliminate Alienware in the first place?

    If you're looking at an entry level system and don't plan on upgrading it every time you get a Slickdeals notification, then Alienware/iBuyPower will be very hard to compete with. They simply have access to a lot more subsidies and pricing models than consumers do and even Newegg has trouble besting that.
     

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