alienware I3 + 860 htpc gaming or steam os box. $330 AR

Archaea

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http://m.slickdeals.net/f/7859143-alienware-alpha-compact-desktop-core-i3-4130t-500gb-hdd-4gb-ddr3-customized-gtx-860-xbox-360-controller-329-99-after-rebate-with-free-shipping
 

Ducman69

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Dayum, and I thought $400 was cheap. I wonder how they make any money on these.
 

DPI

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Dayum is right. Includes a wireless 360 controller and Windows 8.1. The 500GB harddisk could probably be swapped out for a <$100 256GB SSD, but this box will run GTA5 in the livingroom more beautifully than the PS4 or Xbone versions. You want a real nextgen console at a console pricepoint, this is it. The livingroom console PC revolution needs to happen, to slowly erode the walled garden bullshit of the established players. Its going to happen. Is happening.

Might buy one of these just to mess around with, since last thing I need is another system.
 
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but this box will run GTA5 in the livingroom more beautifully than the PS4 or Xbone versions.

That's stretching it a bit. Based on this review, this Alienware is able to maintain 60FPS with no AA @ 1080p with Normal graphics. Kick it up to Ultra / MSAA and it can't even get to 30FPS.

Granted PS4 and Xbone are locked in at 30FPS but this Alienware Steam box isn't going to be able to take advantage of 4K or anything.

http://wccftech.com/alienware-alpha-play-gta-v/

Also note that the 860M is a MXM style laptop GPU. I doubt the motherboard in this Alienware even comes with a PCIE slot, let alone a PSU that can handle a significant upgrade, so no aftermarket options there.
 

Archaea

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Quote from review here:


http://www.techspot.com/review/934-alienware-alpha/page4.html


The Alpha is a very good value when considering the parts inside. A quick system mockup using parts from Newegg &#8211; including a cheap Core i3 CPU, GTX 750 Ti graphics card, 4 GB of DDR3-1600, a wireless-AC card, wireless Xbox 360 controller, and a compact-ish case &#8211; costs $540. This is just $10 under the asking price for the Alpha, isn&#8217;t nearly as compact, and doesn&#8217;t include a Windows license. Alienware has hit the nail on the head in this respect.


Seeing that you are actually paying $330 for this --- what's not to like?


Review consensus seems to be this little unit is faster than the Xbox One or PS4, and plays most any current game at max settings at about 40FPS. The video card is almost a direct equivalent to a Nvidia 750ti
 

Ducman69

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Oh, I know its an awesome little machine. It cost less than my NUC, and is a hundred times better HTPC.

If I didn't already have two, I'd buy another. I do worry about getting that $70 MIR though, that's a big rebate.
 

Etherton

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What is a NUC? Seen the term tossed around in the other threads. :eek:
 

harmattan

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That's stretching it a bit. Based on this review, this Alienware is able to maintain 60FPS with no AA @ 1080p with Normal graphics. Kick it up to Ultra / MSAA and it can't even get to 30FPS.

Granted PS4 and Xbone are locked in at 30FPS but this Alienware Steam box isn't going to be able to take advantage of 4K or anything.

http://wccftech.com/alienware-alpha-play-gta-v/

Also note that the 860M is a MXM style laptop GPU. I doubt the motherboard in this Alienware even comes with a PCIE slot, let alone a PSU that can handle a significant upgrade, so no aftermarket options there.

Yea, the 860m is around 20-40% less powerful than the Xbox's 7790 and PS4's 7850 (closest original desktop GPU equivalents, whatever the heck AMD has rebranded them for the 6th time). It also has a smaller max available memory pool. It will certainly come somewhat close, but the Xbox and PS4 still has it beat in GPU power by a good margin.

If it does have a standard MXM slot, you could potentially upgrade the GPU to something beefier e.g. 870m, 880m, but there is likely a myriad of things preventing this and buying a $300-600 mobile GPU to put in this thing would be a pointless venture.

Also, having had a laptop with an 860m, playing at highest settings in most modern games at 1080p (a couple of claims I've seen) is extraordinarily optimistic. It's a nice little box, but it's not going to do magic.
 
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Archaea

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@harmattan

The review in post 5 seems to indicate pretty clearly the gaming experience is better on the Alienware Alpha than any of the current consoles:

quote from last page.

Despite the issues with hard drive performance, generally speaking you&#8217;ll see overall system performance better than that of the current generation consoles. All games I tested were playable at 1080p and decent frame rates, and this is without turning down graphics levels significantly from the maximum. If you&#8217;re playing a game that escapes HDD-related stutter, the experience is sharper and better than any console on the market today.


And another review saying the Alienware Alpha outperformed the Xbox One console on Tomb Raider pretty significantly when compared side by side.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2850...ngly-good-tiny-pc-and-console-complement.html
 
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Ducman69

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I can only speak to one I upgraded with a fast SSD and another 4GB stick of RAM to 8GB, but it can play any console game locked at 30fps @ 1080p at 60fps @ 1080p with the same graphics quality settings. So while you get double console performance, just don't expect it to rival a 295x2 or anything, lol!

Think of it as a console on steroids that can use any PC peripherals, is way smaller than consoles, and more quiet and power efficient to boot. I ditched the Ailenware UI though, and you can just use Steam Big Picture if you prefer it.
 

chizow

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What is a NUC? Seen the term tossed around in the other threads. :eek:

NUC = Intel's Next Unit of Computing, basically a small square sized platform built on laptop guts.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/products-overview.html

This thing destroys it though from performance, to upgradability, especially in the GPU department as this has a full blown GTX 860m.

But yeah overall I've read the Alpha outperforms ps4/xbox1 by quite a bit. The initial specs on the PS4 was around 7850 level of perf but they are overall slower due to lower clockspeeds I believe.

I am tempted to get this but I think I will wait for something around GTX 960 performance in the next iteration, I'm pretty disappointed overall that there's no GM106-based laptop/mobile parts on the market yet. There's some features on the GM106 that are important for HTPC, like HDMI 2.0 4:4:4 support and H.265 HVEC decoding.
 

sugosugita

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I've enjoyed mine. Plays games well. I'm getting 50 fps in FC3 on a mix of Ultra and High settings.
 

Zohar78

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i believe the gpu is soldered on to the motherboard. you can upgrade everything except the gpu. I got one, love the tiny beast. If anybody does buy one, go ahead and spend 30 bucks on a 4gb stick of ram for it to bring it up to 8gb. That's probably the best bang for buck upgrade. btw, most if not all of the alphas uses LV or is it LL ram modues. Which is basically the low voltage (1.3 volts instead of 1.5) ram used in laptops.
 

fore1337

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One of the Amazon reviewers says his unit only uses ~50 Watts when it is being used. I got super excited about this.

Well, I just hooked the Kill-a-Watt up to my current gen4 i7 HTPC w/32GB Ram, and it only uses 51W - 53W while playing a Movie.
 

Zohar78

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the max the system can use is 110.. i think its something like 55 for cpu and 55 for gpu.
 

Modred189

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In considering the one from Amazon, you can get a 4yr warranty for $40. THat's not too shabby.
 

crispyb

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I finally bit on the Alpha. I saw many deals ranging from $350-$400 with great reviews. The one I bit was for Microcenter. Local stock may vary, but they have it for $449 and they sent out a $100 off Dell code that brought it down to $349+tax. I bought it with AMEX so it has additional 1 yr warranty.

I received the the coupon on 7/6 and expires today. Below is the link for the Alpha.
http://www.microcenter.com/product/441416/Alienware_Alpha_Desktop_Computer?ob=1
 

westrock2000

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One of the Amazon reviewers says his unit only uses ~50 Watts when it is being used. I got super excited about this.

Well, I just hooked the Kill-a-Watt up to my current gen4 i7 HTPC w/32GB Ram, and it only uses 51W - 53W while playing a Movie.

Well, this alludes more to the big secret that no one talks about. Computer do not use nearly as much power as people seem to think.

HardOCP did a review of the AMD Fury video card, which is a high end card. The entire system at full blast was only drawing 400 watts. Yet most people believe they need a 800-1000 watt power supply, even for much less capable video cards.

The same is true with music amplifiers. Most people just do not realize how little wattage is actually used.
 

DoubleTap

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Well, this alludes more to the big secret that no one talks about. Computer do not use nearly as much power as people seem to think.

HardOCP did a review of the AMD Fury video card, which is a high end card. The entire system at full blast was only drawing 400 watts. Yet most people believe they need a 800-1000 watt power supply, even for much less capable video cards.

The same is true with music amplifiers. Most people just do not realize how little wattage is actually used.

Newer CPU and GPU models use less power than they did even a few years ago.

I managed to overload and shut down my Silverstone 1000W power supply with a pair of overclocked GTX480s running furmark a few years ago.

Not everyone runs a light weight system that sips power.
 

Zohar78

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Well, this alludes more to the big secret that no one talks about. Computer do not use nearly as much power as people seem to think.

HardOCP did a review of the AMD Fury video card, which is a high end card. The entire system at full blast was only drawing 400 watts. Yet most people believe they need a 800-1000 watt power supply, even for much less capable video cards.

The same is true with music amplifiers. Most people just do not realize how little wattage is actually used.

Not really a secret. Basically the last couple new processors generations, have traded raw performance increase for power efficiency increase. Which is one of the reasons why an i5 2500k when overclocked can keep up with newer processors. either way, power efficiency increase is a good thing, though some miss the old days where a new processor would be release and spark the "wow" factor.
 

beowulf7

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I assume it's too small to fit 2 disk drives (SSD and HDD) and an optical drive in it?
 

TheGeekFreek

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Youd be lucky to fit a post-it note inside that thing.
Ive upgraded the CPU, RAM and HDD in my Alpha.. There is no extra room for anything except dust.

since the USB3 ports on on the rear I hooked up a USB3 dock/multiplier and have my BluRay/DVD drive and external HDD plugged into that.

One I added the SSD and bumpbed the RAM I sold my gaming rig..
This this is really all you need unless you just HAVE to have everything maxed out for e-peen.
A cheap box thatll get the job done.. This is your answer.. My only complaint is that I cant do multiple monitors and wish it woulda had that properitary alienware plug for using an external video card.
 

Zinn

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They price up very quickly if you configure them with any upgrades.
 

myren

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Anyone with a Kill-a-watt able to report what wattage these things idle/load at?
 

Zohar78

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i have a cyperpower 1500 ups, and with it and my asus vg248qe monitor, according to its meter i can run it with power out websurfing for 82minutes.. the whole thing can only use max 110 watts, cpu 55 and gpu 55. Its pretty much lappy parts in a small box. Its pretty power efficient.
 

beowulf7

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Definitely no way for an optical drive. MAYBE you could add an SSD, but I'd say you should watch this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TePalKjzfPc
It's the Alienware teardown by alienware. But bottom line, it's not likely.

Youd be lucky to fit a post-it note inside that thing.
Ive upgraded the CPU, RAM and HDD in my Alpha.. There is no extra room for anything except dust.

since the USB3 ports on on the rear I hooked up a USB3 dock/multiplier and have my BluRay/DVD drive and external HDD plugged into that.

One I added the SSD and bumpbed the RAM I sold my gaming rig..
This this is really all you need unless you just HAVE to have everything maxed out for e-peen.
A cheap box thatll get the job done.. This is your answer.. My only complaint is that I cant do multiple monitors and wish it woulda had that properitary alienware plug for using an external video card.
Thanks, good to know. Yeah, I guess you'd have to use USB for all accessories, like a TV tuner, optical drive, additional storage, etc. I wish they had a slightly larger form factor of the Alienware that has a PCI-e and PCI slot and room for an optical drive. Basically, like the Dell Inspiron Small, but with the Alienware upgrades and current pricing.

Edit: From the YT link Modred posted, it didn't show how to replace the HDD with an SSD. But this shows it at 12:05 into the clip.
 
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StryderxX

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I got one for $330 and it's a fantastic little HTPC. I hooked it up to my TV in the bedroom and it works great. The wife and I binge watched the first season of The Last Ship (great show) this past weekend with no problems at all. It's a great buy. I also upgraded it to Windows 10 with ease.
 

1_legged_sheep

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I love mine too. Added another 4gb chip and a SSD and it's a zippy little machine. First thing I did was reload it though so no Dell bloatware or Hivemind skin. On the bright side it triggered the free Windows 10 upgrade and is running great on Windows 10.

One thing to consider when buying, you'll be dealing with Dell tech support if you purchase this. Case in point: the day I got it I went online and submitted a request for backup media knowing that I was going to replace the platter drive with a SSD. That was mid-July. Yesterday, as in Aug 25th, I just received the backup USB thumb drive. It took them 1.5 months to ship a thumb drive /crazy !!
 

Modred189

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I love mine too. Added another 4gb chip and a SSD and it's a zippy little machine. First thing I did was reload it though so no Dell bloatware or Hivemind skin. On the bright side it triggered the free Windows 10 upgrade and is running great on Windows 10.

One thing to consider when buying, you'll be dealing with Dell tech support if you purchase this. Case in point: the day I got it I went online and submitted a request for backup media knowing that I was going to replace the platter drive with a SSD. That was mid-July. Yesterday, as in Aug 25th, I just received the backup USB thumb drive. It took them 1.5 months to ship a thumb drive /crazy !!

Yea, Dell is really hit or miss on support. I had an Alienware M11xr1 that had a problem with the screens. I called for a replacement and within a day a tech met me at a coffee shop near my law school and had it replaced over coffee in about 10 minutes, no hassle. But at the same time, that same laptop (which HAD to use Dell branded drivers because it was pre-optimus) only received two video driver updates and one audio driver update EVER.
 
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