If you’re interested in PC gaming, there’s no shortage of options for you to plug into your living room TV. Unlike consoles, PCs can offer more games and they usually make those games look prettier. But PCs can also be a pain to use, especially when they’re connected to a TV. The Alienware Alpha wants to make that process as simple and easy as possible by combining the best features of a desktop PC with the ease-of-use of a console.
It’s not quite there yet—this rough-around-the-edges prototype still requires a PC keyboard and mouse to get going, for instance—but the Alpha is a decent choice if you want to avoid lugging a laptop over to your TV for big-screen play. The Alpha is smaller than a console and has an understated exterior that will blend in with most home decor, and it can be customized with RGB LED lighting on the power button, logo, and front corner. You can even set different color schemes to match your favorite game or just coordinate them with your TV.
The latest version of the Alpha, which we reviewed in late 2016, has a better CPU and GPU than its predecessor. The Alpha starts at $549 (the high-end version with a faster CPU and more RAM costs $849) and is far cheaper than the quintessential PC gaming tower. It’s also significantly smaller, which makes it a good choice for tight spaces.
The biggest problem with the Alpha, though, is its custom nonupgradeable GPU. It’s not bad—it trades blows with the GTX 960 found in the 2016 Razer Blade, for example—but it’s not what you would expect to find in a $550 mini-PC.