Alienware is one of the first manufacturers to embrace Valve’s new vision for PC gaming. Here are five things we like.
Instead of making Half-Life 3, PC gaming juggernaut Valve has been busy envisioning a bold new future for players who prefer the power of a homemade rig to a closed-off console. For two years, the company has been partnering with manufacturers to create Steam Machines, gaming desktops designed to be used to play games on a living room TV and that run a custom version of Linux called SteamOS. In the next few weeks, Steam Machines will finally start hitting the market. We’ve been messing around with one model in particular, the Alienware Steam Machine, to find out what cool things you can expect from this approachable new take on PC gaming.
What separates a Steam Machine from a regular old gaming PC is SteamOS. This operating system is the next evolution of Steam Big Picture mode, Valve’s previous method for viewing your PC games on a television. You may run into the occasional resolution issue, but for the most part the SteamOS interface is easily as TV-friendly as a gaming console, especially when paired with a Steam Controller. Just make sure the games you want to play are Linux compatible. And by plugging in another video source into the Alienware Steam Machine’s HDMI-in port, you’ll have access to the Steam interface while watching something else, Xbox One-style.
2. Easy Local Multiplayer
PC gaming and online multiplayer titles have been best buddies forever, but recently there has also been a treasure trove of excellent local multiplayer games on Steam. TowerFall Ascension and ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS wouldn’t be nearly as fun if you weren’t able to talk trash directly to your opponent’s face. Previously, gathering the necessary amount of controllers and dongles, along with crowding everyone around a monitor for a match, was a hassle. But with a Steam Machine, you can pair up to four controllers to one dongle and enjoy some friendly competition on the big screen where it belongs.
3. Access to the Linux Desktop
When you first set up your Steam Machine, you’ll immediately be thrown into the Steam ecosystem. But the box is ultimately just a Linux desktop. So after adjusting some security options, you can hop over to the desktop at any time and use your Steam Machine like any other Linux computer. Say hello to SuperTux for me! The array of USB ports also means you can run any Linux program you want on the Alienware Steam Machine off of an external drive.
4. Community Features
Beyond harnessing the potential power of a gaming PC on a TV, SteamOS also brings over the openness and sense of community of the Steam platform. Using nothing but a controller, you can browse the Web, read forums to discovers new tips and mods, broadcast your gaming sessions or watch one of your favorite streamers, and discover the joys that Source Filmmaker has to offer. Steam Machines are a welcoming way to connect to the larger Steam ecosystem.
If you want to treat the Alienware Steam Machine like a normal gaming console, a box that lives in your living room and plays games without any fuss, you can. The multiple configuration options let you choose how much power you want to pay for upfront. However, any true PC gamer knows that tinkering with your machine to squeeze out some extra horsepower is half the fun. And if you have the skills, there’s nothing stopping you from ripping open the desktop and swapping out its parts with superior hardware. Enjoy the convenience of console gaming with the possibilities of PC gaming.
Source | www.pcmag.com