Alienware now says its Steam Machine can be upgraded but it won't be easy

Dell's Alienware division is now backing off somewhat on its previous claims that its upcoming Steam Machine PC can't be upgraded by their owners once they are purchased and shipped. However, it's clear that the product won't be as mod friendly compared to Alienware's other Windows-based desktop PCs like the Aurora and the X51.

Eurogamer quotes Frank Azor, the general manager of Alienware, as saying:

Considering we've purposefully designed the Alienware Steam Machine to be smaller than the latest generation consoles, upgrading the internal components will not be as easy as compared to other platforms, such as the Alienware X51, but we will not prevent a customer from upgrading.

Alienware first introduced its X51 desktop design just over two years ago, which has a more console-like case compared to normal PC desktops. The Alienware Steam Machine will include Valve's Linux-based SteamOS which is currently available to download in a very early beta form. Alienware plans to ship its Steam Machine sometime in September but so far the company has yet to offer any specific hardware details nor a price. 13 other PC OEMs will launch their own Steam Machines with Valve's OS sometime in 2014.

Source: Eurogamer | Image via Alienware

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15 Comments

I wouldn't think so, their laptops are pretty upgradeable. Hell you can take out the GPU and replace it with one from Clevo, MSI etc since they're all the same shape and use the same ports.

It's not the cheapest GPU, a 780M with 4gb costs about $700-800 from Clevo, MSI or Dell (doesn't matter which one you use) but it's a laptop part so that's to be expected.

Dell has never really cared about people opening their products and replacing stuff and it doesn't void your warranty either.

Translation:
We created a closed solution, decreasing consumer control over their products in favour of our carefully engineered superior experience, because that's what's best for the customers, and all you ungrateful ******* were unhappy. Now we must backtrack on our grand plans that were going to be so wonderful.

A bit of déjà vu there...

blerk said,
Translation:
We created a closed solution, decreasing consumer control over their products in favour of our carefully engineered superior experience, because that's what's best for the customers, and all you ungrateful ******* were unhappy. Now we must backtrack on our grand plans that were going to be so wonderful.

A bit of déjà vu there...

Sounds like Apples eco system then...

Well, every other manufacturer just heard that too. Come up with a small upgradable steam machine and you'll practically steal most potential sales A.W. would have had from this model.

i would guess its probably the graphics card that will be a custom size? maybe some of the cooling elements / power supply but you wouldn't want to upgrade that
hopefully the graphics card from the 'new' steam box they release x years later will be backwards compatible (and sold separately!) with the old box

The steam machine is just a PC with a custom case? So why wouldn't it be upgradeable. Sure you'll probably void the warranty and be limited in what will fit in there.

Still see no reason why this would make me want one.

Lingwo said,
The steam machine is just a PC with a custom case? So why wouldn't it be upgradeable. Sure you'll probably void the warranty and be limited in what will fit in there.

Still see no reason why this would make me want one.

Probably every piece is specced and sized to fit as tightly as possible. Even replacing a hard drive could be a nightmare in that situation.

Even on normal midi towers it can be awkward.

I don't think this is a hardware issue or limitation, non-standard, etc.
I think the issue is dealing with Linux OS after changing hardware.

The advantage to a supported steam box is not to deal with hardware drivers / installation with the steam OS aka a linux distro.

Trying to trouble shoot linux hardware config when it's not auto configured requires a level of technical ability that is not the target audience of here's a stean box you hook to your tv.

i am pretty sure it is the size and positioning of the video card and the rest of hardware and cooling solutions, esp wiring and proprietary connectors!

you CAN theoretically upgrade, but in such small custom case it is going to be a hassle.


i am certain it is becasue of this, not because the linux will not recognize new processor, video card or more ram (the things you will want to upgrade)

Jason Stillion said,
I don't think this is a hardware issue or limitation, non-standard, etc.
I think the issue is dealing with Linux OS after changing hardware.

The advantage to a supported steam box is not to deal with hardware drivers / installation with the steam OS aka a linux distro.

Trying to trouble shoot linux hardware config when it's not auto configured requires a level of technical ability that is not the target audience of here's a stean box you hook to your tv.


Errrr what?
That's complete garbage. Upgrade from an nvidia card to another nvidia card and it'll still work fine, upgrade from an ati card to another ati card and it'll also still work fine. Switch vendors that then it's dependant upon the distro you have, if it has both sets of drives and switches between them on boot up or what.

n_K said,

Errrr what?
That's complete garbage. Upgrade from an nvidia card to another nvidia card and it'll still work fine, upgrade from an ati card to another ati card and it'll also still work fine. Switch vendors that then it's dependant upon the distro you have, if it has both sets of drives and switches between them on boot up or what.

Exactly. Any card you'd want to put in a steam machine will have supported drivers from here on out in the steam OS. Thats essentially what the OS is, optimized..

The problem stems from physical form factor and the likelihood of everything being soldered directly to the mainboard. Using a daughterboard technique they could probably keep height down while allowing a full-size card. Guess we'll find out in 9 months!

Didn't mean to make it sound like linux doesn't support hardware, but if it doesn't autodetect / autoconfig, the target audience of steam boxes are not ones that can tweak linux if the hardware has to be manually configured.

I do concede the small form factor may make it more challenging changing hardware compared to a standard computer.

I would assume steamos would have it in by default as it's targeted at the gamer market. I remember sabayon having it in from as far back as version 5 on their live cds, a quick startup script scans your hardware and then blacklists ATI drivers if you're on NVIDIA or blacklists NVIDIA drivers if you're on ATI hardware.

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