Budget gaming computer has been oxymoron for long time. Either you get budget computer or gaming computer, but not both at the same time. Alienware, the company known for its fast gaming rigs tries to combat this age-old dilemma with releasing Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580, a wallet-friendly desktop meant for gaming. Being penny pinchers, here at Tech For Pennies we were curious to see how such a cheap desktop performs. Is it true oxymoron or viable desktop for player ones?
The Alienware features components clearly intended for heavier than your typical everyday use. The processor is Intel Core i3-4130T, a dual-core processor of 2.9GHz clock speed. It does very well in benchmarks, although purists would probably want to see at least Core i5 in their gaming rigs. For the money, this processor is excellent choice and in this regards, the desktop beats its competitors of the same price range.
Not typical for lower-end desktops, Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 has dedicated graphics card. Yes, you heard right. After all, it’s meant for gaming and having good graphics is requirement. The graphics card is dubbed as “Custom Nvidia Maxwell GTX CPU” and should be comparable to the better known GeForce GTX 860M. That card does thousand times better than integrated graphics chips (even with i3 CPU), and should be able to run any game, given that you use less than highest settings on some demanding titles like Thief and Battlefield 4.
The RAM amount is not outstanding at 4GB, however acceptable even for gaming computer. Alienware advertises the system as upgrade-friendly, so adding more memory is possible (although the maximum amount is yet unknown). Storage space is 500GB on 5400RPM hybrid hard drive which can host number of games easily.
The operating system is 64-bit Windows 8.1, although it’s customized by Alienware to allow use without keyboard and mouse. The manufacturer wanted to make the system function like a gaming console: Xbox 360 gamepad is shipped with it, and is the intended input device for this computer.
Obviously, the system has HDMI output for connecting it to larger HDTV. There are also two USB ports available, although both are the older USB 2.0 type.
Otherwise, it’s rather barebone system. There is no optical drive or media card reader, so installing data (like games) from those media is rather complicated. The system is heavily Steam-tied, and will probably be the main venue to download games to this computer.
To my knowledge, there is no Ethernet port so you must resort to using the Dual-Band WiFi. Also Bluetooth 4.0 is supported.
What else to keep in mind?
If you order Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580, you’ll receive only the system unit. It doesn’t come with a monitor or keyboard and mouse. As said above, the gamepad is the main input device for this computer, although traditional keyboard and mouse can be plugged to the two available USB ports.
The dimensions of the system unit are 7.8″L x 7.8″W x 2.1H. It weighs 4.5 pounds, around the same than laptop, so taking it with you when you’re going somewhere is more possible than with traditional desktops.
Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 is gaming computer all the way. It features components geared towards playing (capable CPU, dedicated graphics card) and the only input device shipped is Xbox wireless controller. This system is obviously no good for everyday users at home or work, but for gaming it should work well. There’s enough performance to run most games fluently on med-high settings, and also considering the price this Alienware might be tempting alternative for some self-built gaming systems.