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Dell Alienware Aurora Gaming Desktop PC

Jayesh Shinde 2010-05-13
93 Superior
Price: Rs 1,25,000

Full Review

The Dell Alienware Aurora is one audacious gaming rig! It has lots of speed, flair, and some serious attitude. It is a desktop PC that's targeted towards a certain type of gamer -- someone who wants to take their gaming experience to the next level, by surrounding themselves with truly a one-of-a-kind gaming rig.

Design
The first thing you notice of the Dell Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC is its humongous cabinet. The Alienware Aurora's cabinet's height is similar to that of a standard mid-tower cabinet, but it stretches longer than normal. And it is seriously heavy at 21-kg -- lifting and moving it around isn't for the faint of heart. The cabinet is truly built like a tank--no, fortress!--and strikes an intimidating figure on the desk. And the Aurora gaming desktop's cabinet has all the characteristic bling synonymous with any Alienware product: stylish side accents, alien logo, and the base of the front that illuminates with customizable colors of your choice. Obviously eye candy but oh so cool!

We love the Alienware Aurora's looks and think its hardware is future-proof for at least a few years.


The Dell Alienware Aurora's cabinet isn't all about eye candy, it is a very well thought out one. Not only is the cabinet very well built but it's also very well designed internally. Looking inside the Alienware Aurora's cabinet from the side, you can see the micro-ATX board sitting between the length of front and back panels. There are three optical drive bays at the front top (all of which can also accommodate a 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD) and a fan sits directly underneath. On the rear grill sits the processor's liquid cooling system, and two Nvidia GeForce GTX260s occupy the space underneath. Below it sits the SMPS and part of the Alienware's bling (re: light effects) system; adjacent to it nestle four standard 3.5-inch hard drive bays. And in between all this there's hardly any criss-crossing of cables. In fact cables are intelligently bunched together and directed along the sides of components and sections. There are fans placed at strategic points to control the temperature inside the Alienware Aurora's cabinet -- exhaust air is also pushed out through vents at the cabinet's top. There's also a hinged contraption that protects the two graphics card on the side. Accessing and upgrading the Dell Alienware Aurora's internals is as simple as it can get, which is great news.

Lift a lever at the cabinet's tail to disengage its side panel; press a hidden panel on top to reveal more connectivity ports; press the glowing Alienware logo on front to slide down a drop-down door which hides its optical drive -- the thing's like a spaceship, and full of hidden compartments. In the dark, the glowing Alienware Aurora gaming desktop is a sight to behold.

Hardware Specs
The Alienware Aurora is part of Dell's flagship PC gaming offering in India, and it has internals that uphold its billing of a high-end gaming rig. For starters, it has an Intel Core i7 975 Extreme (975X) 3.33-GHz quad-core processor with Intel HyperThreading and TurboBoost, 12GB of DDR3 RAM (1333-MHz), 1TB storage (2 x 500GB drives, 7200rpm in RAID 0), and two Nvidia GeForce GTX 260s in SLI (capable of supporting Nvidia 3D Vision)-- all this on an Intel X58 chipset board. This is enough firepower to run all current games without any serious bottlenecks.

But that's not all. The Alienware Aurora gaming desktop comes with a liquid cooling setup for the CPU, Blu-ray ROM drive, a 19-in-4 card reader slots, eSATA port, FireWire, and Gigabit Ethernet -- surprisingly no HDMI port. There's also room for 7.1 channel surround sound support, SPDIF (TOSLINK) and Analog SPDIF (Coax) ports. On the top of the cabinet, there's a hidden compartment with a couple of USB ports, audio jacks, and a FireWire port. Costs apart, with the Dell Alienware Aurora you're in for a desktop PC that will last you for many years.

The Alienware Aurora desktop comes with a nice pair of gaming keyboard and mouse. Like the cabinet and the Alienware M11x gaming laptop, the keyboard is backlit with dedicated multimedia buttons at the top row. There are dedicated keys for setting up macros and other functions useful in certain games (re: RPGs, RTSs), and the overall look and feel of the keyboard is very good -- it connects via two dedicated USB 2.0 ports. The bundled laser mouse is something similar to what Logitech offers in its G9 series - the G9x, in particular. It has dual-mode scrolling (smooth/non-smooth) and three DPI settings to select on the fly. The mouse nestles nicely in the palm and is very good to work (re: game) with. We believe, Dell outsources its mouse and keyboard manufacturing for Alienware to Logitech.

The Dell Alienware Aurora comes with a control centre application called Alienware Command Center that lets you customize the PC's case, keyboard, and mouse lights under Alien FX Editor. There's also a utility in there which lets you monitor the real-time temperature inside the Alienware Aurora's cabinet case, courtesy of three sensors. There's also a thermal management utility which lets you control the PCI and hard drive fan speed. You can tweak and customize every minute detail of the PC to an endless level. The machine isn't noisy but isn't quiet either.

Performance
The Dell Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC is one of the most powerful PC we've tested in our labs -- including our test rig. Synthetic benchmarks recorded scores previously unseen on a consumer desktop PC -- WorldBench 6 scored a whopping 170 points, while PC Mark Vantage, PC Mark 05, and Cinebench gave very high numbers. This isn't surprising given the Aurora's multicore CPU and 12-gigabytes of RAM, among other things. The Alienware Aurora's dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (paired in SLI) managed to register a 3D Mark 06 score of over 21,000 -- which is slightly greater than the ATI Radeon HD 5970 we tested. We had fun watching a Blu-ray movie on the Alienware Aurora, before getting down to business -- some serious gaming.

We hooked up a 22-inch full-HD Alienware gaming monitor and ran Crysis, FarCry 2, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as gaming benchmarks on the Dell Alienware Aurora. At 1920x1080, 16xAA and High settings, Crysis ran pretty smoothly at 41.5 fps. Similarly, FarCry 2 at 1920x1080, 8xAA, and Very High settings registered 64.5 fps. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2's "The Gulag" mission logged an average frame rate of 148.9 (using FRAPS) at 1920x1080, 4xAA, and every effect enabled. Apart from benchmarks, even extensive gaming with COD: MW2 and FarCry 2 went extremely well on the Dell Alienware Aurora's dual GTX 260s. The graphics card setup is very nice for gaming with a 22-inch monitor at 1920x1080 resolution.

Is it Worth it?
We tried adding the sum of Dell Alienware Aurora's components:

Cooler Master COSMOS S (RC-1100) - Rs. 14,000
Intel Core i7 975X CPU - Rs. 50,000
12GB DDR3 RAM - 2GB x 6 = 2800 x 6 = Rs. 16,800
1TB = 2 x 500GB = Rs. 4,400
GTX 260 x 2 = Rs. 24,000
Tagan Pipe Rock SMPS = Rs. 8,974
Intel X58 Chipset = Rs. 20,000
Keyboard & Mouse = Rs. 10,000
Liquid Cooling = Rs. 4,000
BluRay ROM = Rs. 8,000
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit = Rs. 4,000

We're looking at a sum total of Rs. 1,68,174. So, yeah, it is worth investing in the Dell Alienware Aurora gaming desktop without trying to build your own monster gaming rig. The only con we could uncover is maybe the Alienware Aurora could've come with an SSD as default, but that's about it. The rest is an impressive package.

Bottom Line

The Dell Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC is more than just the sum of its parts. It is a highly powerful machine which can be used for video-image editing and 3D rendering, apart from just gaming. Love it or hate it, what sets the Alienware Aurora apart is its design and looks, and the massive price tag (Rs. 1,25,000 inclusive of taxes and freight). With a 22-inch Alienware OptX AW2210 monitor, the price goes up to 1,40,000. We love the Alienware Aurora's looks and think its hardware is future-proof for at least a few years. If you want a seriously high-end gaming machine don't think of building one, buy the Dell Alienware Aurora instead. It's a perfect companion for a gamer who would like some serious bling to compliment a fantastic gaming experience.

Check out our slideshow preview on the Dell Alienware Aurora desktop PC. Go to product home at Dell/Alienware.

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