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Alienware Alpha Review

Combining the UI of a gaming console with the power of a PC, the Alienware Alpha is a force to be reckoned with.

Design

The Alpha is unequivocally Alienware. The bottom left edge of the otherwise square device has been cut off to reveal a triangle of backlit goodness. The front edge is adorned with the company's trademark alien head power button. You can customize both light sources via the preinstalled AlienFX software.

Sadly, the company didn't trick out the three glossy lines along the top of Alpha with LED strips. Coupled with the black matte plastic, the lid is very handsome, but I expected a bit more wow factor. 

You'll find two USB 3.0 ports along the front of the device toward the left. The rest of the ports (another pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-in, HDMI-Out, Optical Audio Out, Gigabit Ethernet and the power jack) are located on the back of the device with a set of vents.

I really appreciated the HDMI-In port because it let me plug the Alpha into my cable box, thus saving an HDMI port on my TV. With the Alpha plugged in, I switched between the Alpha's video output and my cable box without changing my television's source input. That meant I could pause Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and switch to Scandal without fumbling for a misplaced remote. When I was done, I flipped back to my game and resumed ridding the world of Shuggarths.

This is similar to how the Xbox One is set up to take advantage of its TV-centric OneGuide feature; it would be great if the Alpha had similar functionality. 

Unlike most consoles and PC towers, the 3.4-pound, 2.2 x 7.8 x 7.8-inch Alpha is small enough to fit in one of my medium-size purses with plenty of room left for a controller and a few other gadgets. It’s almost half the size and weight of the Xbox One (7 pounds, 13.1 x 10.5 x 3.3 inches) and the PlayStation 4 (6.1 pounds, 10.8 x 12 x 2.1 inches).