Valve’s reference Steam Machine’s core idea is fantastic; it’s essentially a console that comes with the benefits of a PC; A dedicated gaming operating system, low level access to hardware, a small form factor, plus open systems,mods and the ability to upgrade the machine as you see fit. Only Alienware seems to have not gotten the memo. They’ve confirmed that their Steam Machines are not upgradeable. and it gets worse.
Alienware confirmed not only are their Steam Machines not user moddable, they’ll also be refreshed annually – much like cell phones and tablets. Speaking to Trusted Review, Alienware general manager Frank Azor explained that the Steam Machines from the company are going to be fixed.
“Lifecycle-wise, consoles update every five, six, seven years, we will be updating our Steam Machines every year,” Azor said. “The platform will continue to evolve as the games become more resource intensive.”
“There will be some configuration options when you purchase it,” he continued, “maybe you can get a faster CPU, maybe some more memory something like that.” But, when it comes to getting new parts into the machine, “there will be no customisation options, you can’t really update it.”
Those who do want to tinker, he says, are better off with standard PCs.
“If you actually want to customise your Alienware Steam Machine, maybe change your graphics card out or put in a new CPU, you would be better off with the standard Alienware X51,” he said. You could, of course, also buy a machine from a different vendor, or assemble one yourself.
I really feel that Alienware has missed the point entirely. Not only are Alienware’s Steam Machines some of the most expensive ones, they’re also the least durable. I also think that they’re targeting the wrong market; people who want a console experience will just get consoles. The people who’re really interested in steam Machines are capable of building their own.
If I was a Luddite, and offered the choice of a $400 or $500 console that would last me 6 years, or a $500 Steambox that would be replaced with a newer model in a year, I know exactly which one I’d go for.
Last Updated: January 22, 2014