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Alienware SteamBox Hands-on: PC Gaming Invades Your Living Room

If Valve and it's hardware partners are right, 2014 will be the year of the Steam Machine — a set-top box that runs Valve's game-centric SteamOS operating system. And Alienware is hoping to lead the charge. Aiming for the 65-million-member user base that currently uses the Steam game download service, Alienware has been working with Valve for over a year to create a box that will be competitive with next-gen consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. After going hands-on with a prototype here at CES 2014, we'd say that Alienware is definitely on the right path.

Alienware was vague on specs, displaying just a shell of the box with tantalizing cutouts showing off potential ports and slots. However, we did learn that the company has created a proprietary motherboard designed for a smaller device. The box will also feature a new venting solution that sucks air into the box, blowing the hot air out dual exhaust vents along the back.

MORE: Most Anticipated Games of 2014

The prototype is slightly bigger than a Roku set-top box and comprised of matte and glossy black plastic. We noticed a number of intersecting lines resembling the LED strips found on the current Alienware notebooks. Company reps confirmed that the box will feature some of Alienware's trademark pizzazz.

We weren't able to test out Alienware's prototype directly. The company did give us a taste though, demoing Valve's Steam OS on an Alienware 14 while using the the company's innovative Steam controller. Once we became acquainted with the controller with its two haptic trackballs in lieu of dual analog sticks, playing "Borderlands 2" was relatively smooth. In optimal conditions, both Alienware and Valve claim that Steam OS will only exhibit single digit latency when using a wired controller.

In addition to the Steam Machine, Alienware will begin offering a Steam version of the X51, one of the company's popular desktop gaming solutions. Both units will become available globally sometime in 2014. 

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.

  • thechief73
    "slightly bigger than a Roku set-top box"What? Seriously, you must have never seen a Roku in person. That is easily 4x larger than a Roku. Otherwise it looks like it could be a strong competitor in the Steam Machine market just due to its compact size. Pricing and performance withstanding. But on the other hand "Dude your getting a Dell."
  • soldier44
    Does anyone really buy these overpriced under powered things...
  • Zachasaurs
    i would not reccomend these alienwares are already overpriced because dell sucks and this does not have enough air movement to not melt or destroy internal parts
  • scook9
    It will have as much or more air movement then a laptop and will most likely be housing laptop internals. Stop being an idiot fanboy.And Alienware stopped being overpriced in 2009 when Dell started building the laptops and not letting Alienware act like a separate division. Let me know where you can get a comparably powerful/spec'd machine for less.
  • itsnotmeitsyou
    that form factor is really impressive given the hardware specs. GTX titan, Tb SSD, i7quad, 16Gb. I'll get one for a desktop even.
  • universal remonster
    "Let me know where you can get a comparably powerful/spec'd machine for less."Sure, no problem idiot fanboy, except that no specs or price was revealed.. so how about you shut up?
  • itsnotmeitsyou
    u mad bro?
  • biohazrdfear
    Find something that's priced better than an Alienware? Okay.ASUSMSIEurocom
  • southernshark
    I for one like these small Alienware machines. I work internationally. The big box is dead for me. We didn't all grow up in one town and stay there FOREVER.
  • royalgamer07
    First. Boring boring boringThen: Sees 2 words=borderlands 2.READ READ READ