Even for an SFF system, the Alpha is small. In fact, it measures a mere 7.75 x 7.75 inches, and it’s only about 2.25 inches tall. Your Xbox One or PS4 will positively dwarf the Alpha, but the system is much bigger than a Roku or similar streaming devices you may have on your TV stand. And it has plenty of aesthetic attitude, thanks to a piano finish and the classic alien face (complete with glowing red eyes) filling in for a traditional power button.
The chassis is a finger-print magnet, but it cleans up easily enough. The design is surprisingly intricate for such a small system, making the Alpha feel a lot less boxy than it could. One corner has a shaved-off effect that is accentuated by a glowing red triangle. And the very bottom of the Alpha is smaller than the rest of the chassis, allowing for hidden vents all along the edges of the PC. You can pop a small cover off a portion of the bottom of the Alpha to expose one of the USB ports. It’s a perfect place to hide a keyboard/mouse dongle.
The front is uncluttered and has the only two ports you’re likely to want there: a couple of USB ports. The rest of the ports are at the back, including an HDMI in port, an HDMI out port, the Gigabit Ethernet port, two more USB ports, and an SPDIF port. There’s also a drive activity light back there, as well. The power connector at the back is small because the Alpha relies on a power brick, like a laptop. In a system this size, there’s no room for a real PSU.
The Alienware Alpha looks good in any lighting, but the darker the room is, the more the Alpha comes to life.
The system has four, good-sized rubber feet that make for a cement-like grip on typical TV stand surfaces. There’s little chance of accidentally knocking it off the stand or even moving it out of position when plugging in connectors. If you think that’s not a big deal, you either don’t own a Roku or you’re not as obsessed with having a perfectly-organized TV stand as I am.