Judging by our content traffic trends, there's an express user interest in external graphics solutions as employed by laptops. These solutions allow desktop-quality graphics output without restricting the laptop in non-gaming tasks; that is, the GPU is connected via docking station, granting full mobility of the portable when used for usual commuting or work tasks.

The Steam Machine delay into 2015 imposed a set-back for hardware manufacturers hoping to license Valve's official branding and software, but hasn't stopped the release of systems under new names. With to-be Steam Machines like Gigabyte's Brix, Alienware's now-renamed Alpha, and Zotac's now-renamed mini-PC, hardware vendors have already invested resources heavily into HTPC platforms for gaming. The companies were originally expecting a holiday 2014 release, but recent delays by Valve pushed that into 2015; with resources tied-up in platform development, a few of these vendors have decided to release ahead of time with new names and Windows.

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Alienware, a subsidiary of Dell, announced the "Alpha Console" at $550 starting, with various configuration and upgrade options for purchasers.

If you recall our coverage of the indie game "Forced" back when it was still in beta/alpha stages, the game is focused on fast-paced-yet-tactical action combat in an arena-like setting.

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Built around gladiatorial co-operative 4-player combat, teams of players (or solo acts) venture into an arena, slay hordes of monstrosities, and utilize a unique "spirit mentor" object to trigger interactive objects. The Spirit Mentor follows players around with a tap of the space bar, but can be firmly planted in one place with another tap; this can be used to set up triggers, like planting the Spirit Mentor in one region, then tapping space to have it fly through objects on the map (like healing statues).

Intro to Forced aside, Beta Dwarf—the team behind the game—has announced its partnership with Alienware, SteelSeries, and Intel to host a tournament featuring more than $10,000 in prizes. The prizes include SSDs, keyboards, mice, and other hardware.

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