Alienware's Aurora reviewed: this $5,000+ Geiger-esque PC is stunning, and expensive

Alienware's Aurora reviewed: this $5,000+ Geiger-esque PC is stunning, and expensive

Alienware's Geiger-esque looks aren't everybody's cup of tea, but it's hard to deny the design aesthetic marks them out and makes them desirable.

When you order an Alienware system online, your design customisation options outweigh those of the components tweaking. You can alter the style of the alien head on the chassis and even the wallpaper on the desktop - all, it must be said, free of charge.

The curved black chassis features side panels that glow in your choice of colour and can produce flashing or pulsing effects, as you desire.

Our last run-in with an Alienware system was underwhelming, thanks to its absurdly high price. The Aurora has a similarly eye-watering cost. Even so, we're glad to see the back of two of the more expensive and pointless differences between the Aurora and the ALX - the motorised fins which did nothing for the cooling of the system.

The chassis features an easy lock/unlock side panel that has to be among the simplest panel removal mechanism we've seen. The case is surprisingly large for a micro-ATX form - a lot of that is the length, and components are kept separated into separate compartments to improve cooling and airflow.

The newly updated Aurora carries in it a brand-spanking new Core i7 950 processor, though, which is an addition we're much more happy about. We'd have liked to see some additional features, such as USB 3.0 and SATA3 on the motherboard, but it's understandable that Alienware has opted to do without them for the time being.

Many of our complaints about the composition of the ALX chassis also apply to the Aurora, such as the relative inaccessibility of the graphics card behind its shield, and the cooling vents within the system just don't do enough to exhaust the graphics card and processor's heat.

The processor in the Aurora has a tiny heatsink and even tinier fan to cool it - with the case fully closed, things got hot very quickly. In addition, the Aurura is noisy - with the case off, there's a noticeable hum, and the volume increases once you reattach the side panel. For a machine that looks this good, it's immensely disappointing.

But where we had problems with the lack of performance grunt in the ALX, the updated specifications of the Aurora deliver no such disappointments. The stock 3.07GHz i7 950 sped through our benchmarks with an overall performance score of 2.36.

That's higher than expected for a stock processor, and the 300GB 10,000 RPM WD Velociraptor hard drive and 12GB of triple channel 1333MHz RAM may have something to do with it.

Many of our complimentary words about the ALX also apply to the Aurora. The monitor, for example, is an excellent Alienware 2310 - a 120Hz full HD 23in screen that stands up against some of the best we've seen.

Bright and accurate colours, as well as sharp detail make this a standout, and while it's not an IPS panel, it's definitely worth a look, so to speak. All the accessories, in fact, are excellent.

Like the ALX, the Aurora breezed through our Crysis test. Its 5970 card may not have reached the highest frame rates on low as in the ALX, but at Very High settings it performed better, producing a phenomenal 60fps at 1600 x 1200 on our Very High test.

There's scope to overclock the system, although we'd be concerned about issues of overheating - it may be worth investing in some additional cooling tech - but for style and substance, the Aurora ticks all the boxes. It's a shame then, about the astronomical price, and about the noise.

Alienware Aurora
3 6
Looks, accessories, features – the Aurora pretty much has it all... except for the price
Features & Design
Value for money
• Alienware:
• Product name: Alienware Aurora • CPU model/brand: Intel Core i7 950 • CPU speed: 3.07Ghz • RAM type: 12GB 13333Mhz • HD capacity: 300GB • Price: 5849 • Supplier: Alienware
This review appeared in the May, 2010 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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