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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
Easy to transport
Plenty of configurations
Easy to upgrade
Pricey compared with building your own
The Alienware Aurora R7 boasts a tool-less, compact case with plenty of power to handle games and VR, but this all comes at a hefty price.
Dell’s Alienware Aurora R7 is a powerful pre-built gaming PC for those that don’t want to build their own. Hardcore gamers may turn down their nose, but with its impressive spec configurations, tool-less case access, and countless upgrade options in the future, the R7 is a capable gaming rig.
For our review, we tested the Alienware Aurora R7 configured with an Intel Core i7 8700, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB, 1TB HDD, 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD storage, and 16GB of RAM. Read on to see how it fared in games, benchmarks, and day-to-day use and see if it’s worth the high price.
Taking inspiration from other computers in Dell’s lineup, most notably the Area 51 PC, the Aurora R7 features a black and gunmetal exterior with plenty of ventilation on the top, sides, and bottom of the case. There’s also an array of customizable RGB lights on the side that can be changed to whatever colors suit your style.
One of the standout features of the R7 is its tool-less design. Unlike other PC cases which often need screwdrivers to open, the Aurora R7 can be opened with a simple pull of a lever on the back of the PC. Once the side cover is off, two other switches on the back of the PC are used to unlock the power supply arm, which swings out to reveal the internals of the Aurora R7. The cables are neatly tied and routed throughout the computer, staying out of the way of the AIO liquid CPU cooler.
Unlike other PC cases, which often need screwdrivers to open, the Aurora R7 can be opened with a simple pull of a lever on the back of the PC.
In terms of ports, the Aurora R7 isn’t lacking. On top of the case, there are three USB 3.0 ports, one microphone port, one headphone port, and a single USB Type-C port. While we would’ve liked to see one more USB Type-C port on the front, the arrangement as is worked well for various devices we wanted quick access to plug in and remove, such as headphones and hard drives.
On the rear of the device, there is no shortage of connections. The back has four USB 3.1 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, a USB-C port, a complete set of audio connectors including an optical input, and an Ethernet port. Finally, you have a display port for the motherboard, but your GTX 1070 will have its own set of display ports.
Setting up the Alienware Aurora R7 was fairly straightforward. In the box was the tower, a mouse, a keyboard, and the power cable. After connecting the Aurora R7 to power, plugging in the mouse and keyboard, and attaching a monitor, it was just a matter of going through Window 10’s setup process to get the ball rolling.
The Alienware Aurora R7 model we tested was configured with an Intel Core i7-8700 CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics card,16GB of RAM, and a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD powering the operating system and apps. Meanwhile, a 2TB HDD served as the mass media storage.
As is to be expected with the above specs, the Aurora R7 flies. It’s not the top-of-the-line configuration, but it doesn’t disappoint either. Boot-up time ranged from 10 seconds to 20 seconds, and applications opened with ease thanks to the integrated M.2 SSD. Multitasking was equally impressive, handling a dozen files open in Adobe Photoshop just as easily as half-a-dozen Twitch streams. Thanks to the liquid-cooling for the CPU, it stayed impressively quiet through it all.
Diving into the benchmark details of the Aurora R7, we tested our configuration with Geekbench, Cinebench, and PCMark to see how the Intel Core i7-8700 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics card, and other components stacked up.
Boot-up time ranged from 10 seconds to 20 seconds, and applications opened with ease thanks to the integrated M.2 SSD.
In our Geekbench test, the Aurora R7 scored 5,678 on the single core test and 24,989 on the multi-core test. This falls in line with other PCs with similar specs. On the Cinebench front, the Aurora R7 clocked in 146.64 fps in the OpenGL test and 1335 cb in the CPU test. Last up was the PCMark test. The Aurora R7 scored a 6183, with 8681 in Essentials, 8303 in Productivity, and 7526 in the Digital Content Creation tests.
Overall, the Aurora R7 tested on-par or ahead of other PCs with similar specs. As is to be expected, it excelled in the graphics department, but it certainly didn’t struggle with multitasking and everyday tasks.
The Alienware Aurora R7 has both wired and wireless connectivity for internet access. On the rear of the PC is a Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45) port for a hardwired internet connection. On the wireless front, the Aurora R7 uses two external 5GHz amplifiers for strong uplink and downlink speeds. These are boosted by Alienware’s Killer Wireless, an internal lag and latency reduction technology to improve long-distance range and intelligently prioritize the most important traffic.
In our hardwired tests, the Aurora R7 easily achieved perfect speeds across the board for our Gigabit fiber optic connection. The wireless connection proved nearly perfect as well, with steady speeds both up and down, with minimal ping. Regardless of whether we were gaming or downloading large video files, the computer kept up connection whether it was next to the router or three rooms away.
As is to be expected for a gaming PC, the Alienware Aurora R7 runs on Windows 10 64-bit. It’s a typical install in every sense of the word, but it does come with a few extra bits of software specifically designed for Alienware, including Alienware Command Center, AlienFusion, and OC Controls.
Alienware Command Center is a new program that controls nearly every facet of the Alienware hardware, including custom controls depending on what game is being played. Built-in it has AlienFX, which customizes the external RGB lighting of the computer based on your style preferences. We spent far too much time in there customizing our desktop and only scratched the surface of our options.
There’s also an array of customizable RGB lights on the side that can be changed to whatever colors suit your style.
AlienFusion is an Always Ready mode that comes pre-installed to make it easy to sleep and wake the computer. This allows the core components to keep running while keeping energy consumption to a minimum. In our experience, it worked well to save energy while not entirely turning the computer off between uses.
OC Controls is a dedicated program for controlling overclocking levels of the memory and CPU. The program not only makes it easy to control the overclocking settings, but also helps you keep an eye on temperatures while you game.
The Alienware Aurora R7 with the aforementioned specifications retails for $1,699 (MSRP). Compared to other pre-built computers, it’s a bit high as we’ll see below. It’s also a good bit more expensive than other DIY gaming builds. Convenience isn’t cheap and the Aurora R7 is no exception.
You could you easily build a PC with better specs for less money, but you also have to take into account the amount of time it takes to shop around for various components and build the computer. If building gaming PCs is something you’re interested in, then skip the Aurora R7 and start your own build. However, if you want to get started with gaming or VR without worrying about compatibility and the building process, the Aurora R7 has plenty of configurations that can suit your needs.
Judging competitors of the Alienware Aurora R7 can get incredibly tricky considering all the different configurations available, not to mention the option of building your own computer. That said, one pre-built gaming PC stands out alongside the Aurora R7 in terms of specs and value—the MSI Infinite X.
The Aurora R7 and MSI Infinite X come both come in multiple configurations, with each variation lining up almost spec-for-spec with each other. Compared to our Aurora R7, the closest contemporary in the MSI Infinite X lineup is the model with the Intel Core i7-8700K CPU with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 RAM.
On spec sheets, the two computers line up almost identically, aside from a few ports and connection points. Design wise, the MSI Infinite X is a little less appealing as tools are needed to access various parts of the case, but what it trades for in convenience, it makes up for with internal and external RGB lights that give a much brighter pop of color than the Aurora R7.
The MSI Infinite with the aforementioned specs retails for $1,599, whereas the Alienware Aurora R7 with the aforementioned specs retails for $1,699. This isn’t much of a difference, especially when you take into account the difference in quality components used, such as the power supply and means of cooling, but it’s still worth considering as a slightly more affordable alternative.
A powerful, convenient machine out of the box.
The Alienware Aurora R7 is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a pre-built gaming PC that requires little to no hands-on time to get up and running. Out of the box, it’s ready to take on nearly any game you throw at it, usually at the highest settings. Sure, it’s a bit pricier than a DIY PC, but its compact case, tool-less access, and upgradability makes it a solid option for someone who wants a plug-and-play gaming rig.