Alienware Aurora Performance Desktop PC

Alienware Aurora Performance Desktop PC
Alienware Aurora. ©Alienware

Dell has redesigned the Alienware Aurora system many times since the release of the 2010 version of the system. In general, it has been positioned as a more affordable alternative to their flagship Area-51 desktop. If you are looking for a higher performance desktop system similar to the older Alienware Aurora, check out the Best Gaming Desktops for high end systems and the Best $700 to $1000 Desktop PCs for some more affordable options similar to the starting price range of the Aurora.

The Bottom Line

Dec 7 2009 - Alienware's Aurora is a completely new design that uses a compact design and the Intel Core i7 platform to provide a compact, high performance desktop platform. Rather than using the newer P55 chipset, they have gone with the high performance X58 chipset and a Core i7 920 processor that gives it strong performance. While the base platform is quite affordable at $1200, it does come with less memory and hard drive space than many competing systems in that price range. It also uses a smaller wattage power supply that limits dual video card configurations.

Pros

  • Affordable Price Tag
  • Smaller Desktop Tower
  • Core i7 Processor With Intel X58 Based Motherboard

Cons

  • Less Memory and Hard Drive Space In Standard Configuration
  • 525W Base Power Supply Not Suitable For SLI
  • Upgrades Quickly Increase Cost

Description

  • Intel Core i7 920 Quad Core Desktop Processor
  • 3GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
  • 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 24x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 Graphics Card With 1.8GB Memory
  • Intel HDA 7.1 Audio
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Eight USB 2.0, Two FireWire, eSATA
  • Windows 7 Home Premium

Guide Review - Alienware Aurora Performance Desktop PC

Dec 7 2009 - Alienware's Aurora desktop has undergone a major change this year.

Previous models were based on the AMD platform, but it has now become a smaller profile Intel platform system. The lower profile design may be very useful for some but it is a bit more limiting in the potential expansion space for those that might want to add more features after purchase.

Many affordable performance desktops are now available with the Core i7 series processors that are based on the P55 chipset. Rather than using this, Alienware has decided to use the Intel X58 chipset and the venerable but high performance Core i7 920 quad core processor. This allows the system to breeze through applications and games without any problems. It would be nice to see Alienware include more than 3GB of DDR3 memory in the base configuration but this will suffice in most cases.

One area that Alienware tends to skimp on features in the storage features. Most desktop systems that are priced over $1000 tend to come with a one terabyte hard drive. The Aurora comes with just half of that in its $1200 base configuration. There are plenty of options to upgrade the drive or add additional drives but it would be nice to see a larger drive or a combination for RAID. The dual layer DVD burner is fairly typical with options for a Blu-ray combo or burner drive.

Since Alienware's systems are geared towards gaming, graphics are an important component. The base system uses a somewhat date NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 graphics card. This is certainly capable of handling modern games up to the 1920x1200 resolution without too much trouble. The 1.8GB of memory on the card is a bit overkill as the performance isn't really improved over one with the standard GTX 260 with 892MB. It is possible to add a second card in an SLI configuration but the 525W power supply should be upgraded to a heftier 825W model.

One area that Alienware does a good job with its systems is the build quality. The case, components and fit are much more polished than are found in many similarly priced desktop systems. For example, Alienware takes the time to route the cables out of the way and in a sheath holder in order to improve the cooling airflow through the system and make components more easily accessible.

Essentially, the Alienware Aurora comes down to a choice. Its performance is good but the specs are a bit behind what some other companies offer at this price point. Users instead get a well built system that is more compact than traditional over the top tower performance systems. Many may be tempted to put in a number of upgrade but they can quickly raise the cost of the system.

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