Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK Review

February 5, 2016
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Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK, that’s a computer made for gaming. It features a Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and most importantly, a special GeForce graphics card. It’s also a bit different from other desktops as the pre-loaded operating system is not Windows but Steam OS. So let’s examine this curious case a bit further…

So is it a gaming friendly unit?

You get the impression of a gaming desktop when you look at Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK. It can surely work for players, after all the manufacturer describes it as PC gaming console. There’s a GeForce GTX graphics processor with 2GB GDDR5 memory, but the most important question is, which GTX it is? There’s no official information about this, but rumors say it’s equivalent to GTX860M (yes, the mobile version). It’s not really a beast, however any Steam-based game should be playable on higher settings and resolution.

Windows game examples include GTA 5 (high settings and 1080p) giving ~40FPS and Battlefield 4 around ~50FPS. However, keep in mind that Windows-based games wont run here – unless you install Windows or run the games through emulator under Steam OS.

As the box is small, you can not add a dedicated PCI-e x16 graphics card inside.

General performance

Processor in this desktop is Intel Core i5-4590T, a 4th generation quad-core model with 2.0GHz clock speed and 3.0GHz turbo. Despite being an older model, it still receives a nice ~5500 points in CPU Mark, so for a gamer or power user the current processor certainly works.

There’s 8GB DDR3L memory installed inside, I think it’s two 4GB modules (there are in total two SODIMM sockets on the board). Thus, the maximum memory would be 16GB on this machine.

It’s a 1TB 7200RPM SATA hard drive you’ll get for storage. Because of the size, there are no extra slots or M.2 connectors inside. But I guess a tech savvy person could always remove the current drive and put in SSD if he wanted to.

Ports and connections

Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK includes five USB ports – two are USB 3.0 (in the back) and three are USB 2.0 (one of those is inside, but accessible through bottom door without tools). There are also HDMI input and output for connecting a monitor.

The only audio port is optical audio out, there’s no dedicated headphone port.

It should be easy to connect this thing to Internet, the computer has a Gigabit RJ-45 port and 1×1 dual-band a/c WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 adapter available.

No optical drive is included, the case is too small for that. But you can always plug in an external DVD burner to the USB port. The same can be said about media card reader: none is included, but external USB card reader works.

Miscellaneous things

Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK is indeed more like a console, it comes with a game controller included. The operating system, Steam OS (a Linux distribution) should work great without keyboard and mouse; those are not included. Also monitor must be acquired separately.

You need the unit plugged in to a power socket at all times, it doesn’t work like a laptop with battery.


The most obvious use for Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK is gaming, but it’s also good for other activities. As the case is rather small, you won’t have problems finding space for it, and even traveling with this unit is not unheard of. In case you ditch the Steam OS and install Windows there, the computer will work exactly like your average desktop does. But you can do most things with the current Steam OS as well, since it’s essentially a Linux (just get keyboard and mouse for it). If this kind of a package sounds exciting to you, I recommend checking it out further!

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