When Alienware released their diminutive X51 desktop last year, we were instant fans. It takes up no more room than an Xbox 360, but offers so much more potential - both in the games it can play and what they look like on your screen. In addition to being the smallest Alienware desktop, it was also the most affordable - by a large margin.
Up until now, you could get your hands on a fully-fledged Alienware for just $699. As of today, it's even cheaper.
Gamers who like Linux have always had a tough go of things, tougher even than gamers who traditionally preferred to run Mac OS X. Fortunately, running Linux has your primary desktop and gaming have won a number of important battles. Perhaps most obvious is Valve's decision to port Steam over to the platform, as well as at least one (but likely all) of their games.
It's been bolstered recently by the efforts of Epic and Unity, too. And if Valve is sincere in their efforts to put a Steam console on the market, it's likely to run some flavor of Ubuntu, according to recent leaks.
Today, Dell announced that they were throwing their own support into the fray, with an Ubuntu-powered desktop with Alienware branding. While Dell is no stranger to Ubuntu on machines, it's until recently been a second-class citizen - it would cost the same as a Windows PC, offer fewer configurations, etc.
That all seems to be changing, however, and this announcement is a very big sign of it.
When Dell first announced the X51, we commented on how it would be an excellent way of bringing Steam to the living room; it wouldn't surprise us in the least if Dell is making the move pre-emptively to cash in on Steam's effort later this year.
For that matter, Valve head Gabe Newell has gone on record as saying that any hardware effort on Valve's part would be along with the help of several companies; that is, there won't be any single Steam Box - there will be dozens.
Maybe this is Dell's Steam Box.
Whether it is or isn't doesn't matter. It's an awesome piece of kit, and without having to pay extra licensing fees, it's a hundred bucks cheaper than the Windows-powered version. That's right - it starts at just $599.
For that price, you get:
Not a bad start, and if you like, you can pay a bit extra and move things up to a quad-core Core i7 and even stronger graphics.
The new systems are available today from Dell.
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