Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-6980BLK is a little desktop-like box made for gaming. There’s a GeForce GTX dedicated graphics card included, so indeed players should find some joy in this computer. But a big question is the price; can you get a decent computer for gaming so cheap? Let’s try to figure that out…
So, the gaming capabilities?
The much-advertised feature of this computer is the GeForce GTX graphics engine. It’s a dedicated one with 2GB GDDR5 memory, so there surely is some gaming performance. But what GTX model it really is? 780? 960? A trusted source says it’s about the same that GTX860 mobile version. So not a hardcore card, but still capable of keeping high settings on many games.
To give you an example, you can expect some 40 frames per second on Grand Theft Auto 5 with high details and 1920×1080 resolution. Another popular title, Call of Duty (Black Ops 3) would give similar FPS count on medium settings and 1366×768. Just keep in mind those are Windows games so it only applies if you install Windows on this computer. In Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-6980BLK, the default operating system is Steam OS, and many games downloaded from Steam (like Counter-Strike: Go) will work wonders even on very high details.
Inside the case there’s not much room for upgrades, installing a new dedicated graphics card won’t work.
Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-6980BLK runs on Intel Core i7-4785T processor. It’s a bit older model (2014, 4th generation), however the chip features four cores, 2.2GHz clock speed and 3.2GHz turbo boost. This gives a very strong ~7500 points in CPU Mark test. That is easily a sufficient score for players, and the processor won’t become a problem.
The machine is equipped with 8GB RAM, that is an ample amount for gamers. You can up that to sixteen gigabytes by using two 8GB memory sticks if you want.
One terabyte SATA 3 7200RPM hard drive is installed here, it’s a nice one if you want to store myriads of games on this system. On the other hand, many people prefer solid-state drive for performance. It’s possible to install SSD, but only after removing the default hard drive (no free slots / m.2 connectors are available).
What ports and connections are included?
In Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-6980BLK you will find five USB ports, three of them are USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0. Video connectors seem to include HDMI input and output for plugging in a monitor (or HD television if you wish).
The system has an audio port, optical audio out, but that’s all. No headphones port seems to be available.
There are no DVD burner or memory card slot installed, so transferring data locally can be a problem. But you can always get an external optical drive that connects to USB and the problem is solved.
You can connect to networks with the 1000Mbps RJ-45 port or dual-band WiFi adapter supporting A/C standard and Bluetooth 4.0.
Other things to remember
The system comes with a controller (like gaming console controller), but keyboard and mouse are not included. There’s no monitor, either. If you want to make this computer work like a “normal” PC, you need to install Windows. The current operating system is Steam OS which is based on Debian Linux.
There surely are good reasons to get Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-6980BLK, especially if you’re looking for a portable gaming machine. This thing is darn small, you can easily find a spot for it, or even travel with the unit if you like. But please remember the graphics engine is not a very beefy one; you can run games but not all of them with a lot of eye candy on. So in that regards, a dedicated gaming PC (a tower unit) is better than the Alienware. However, this computer is quite cheap, and indeed portability is excellent. If that’s your cup of tea, then do take a closer look at it!