Alienware Aurora ALX Gaming System Review - HotHardware

Alienware Aurora ALX Gaming System Review

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Computer hardware enthusiasts are a unique group. Its true that some enthusiasts may spend hours, days, or weeks tweaking their BIOS and other settings to achieve optimal performance, while others might spend an entire evening painstakingly routing wires for proper cable management. Fortunate ones find themselves eagerly awaiting product launches in order to upgrade parts at every possible opportunity. This appetite for new technology is fueled by the never ending supply of components that perform faster, run cooler, consume less power and improve the overall computing experience for consumers.

As one of the leading system builders in the industry, Alienware helps fuel the fire and provides an all inclusive option for those who demand a machine filled with the freshest and fastest hardware available. Today we check out Alienware's latest gaming monstrosity, the Aurora ALX. This beast holds absolutely nothing back and features Intel's top of the line Core i7 975 processor, an X58 micro ATX motherboard, liquid cooling, a Blu-ray drive, adjustable lighting effects, a pair of 1 TB drives in RAID0, and two of the fastest graphics cards in the market running in CrossFire mode. Obviously, the spec sheet is impressive and is certainly loaded with best-in-class components. Read on to find out if the Aurora ALX can provide the performance to match.  

 
Alienware Aurora ALX Gaming System
System Specifications

Processor
Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 975 3.33GHz 8MB Cache

Motherboard

Alienware MicroATX LGA 1366 Intel X58 Motherboard

Operating System
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition SP1
Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade

Memory
Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB DIMMs)
DDR3-1600MHz 8-8-8-24

Graphics Cards

ATI Radeon HD 5870 GB GDDR5 CrossFire

CPU Cooling

Liquid Cooling - 120mm Single Radiator

Audio

Onboard

Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM HDD RAID 0

Optical Drive
Blu-ray 6x Dual Layer Disc Burner

Accessories
Alienware TactX Keyboard / Mouse
Mousepad


Case
Cosmic Black ALX
Width: 9.84" (250mm)
Depth: 25.39" (645mm)

Height: 16.77" (426mm)
Weight: 45lbs (20.41kg)


Power Supply
875 Watt PSU

Available Expansion Slots
None

Front Panel I/O Ports

2 USB 2.0
1 FireWire 1394A
1 Headset
1 Mic


Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 PS/2 mouse
1 PS/2 keyboard
6 USB 2.0
1 RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 IEEE 1394A
1 eSATA
10-channel audio I/O
1 SPDIF Digital Output

Warranty and Support

1 year hardware warranty
In-home service after remote diagnosis
(two, three, and four year options available)

Price:
$4,074.00 USD (as tested)


As we saw in our preview article, the Aurora ALX is powered by Intel's Core i7 975 processor running at 3.33GHz and features a custom X58 microATX motherboard. The 975 is Intel's fastest and most powerful desktop CPU in its entire line up, though it is also the most expensive. For cooling duties, Alienware installed a 120mm singe radiator liquid cooling solution on top of the processor. And installed on the board is 6GB of Corsair Dominator memory running at DDR3-1600MHz at 8-8-8-24 timings. There is a ton of fast storage available as we find two 1TB 7200 RPM hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration at the bottom of the case. Last but not least, the highlight of the system are the dual ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards running in CrossFire.

The Warranty:
Alienware provides different tiers of warranty on their products. First off, systems come with a 30 day limited money back guarantee on all hardware, accessories, peripherals, and unopened software. Note that a 15% restocking fee may be deducted from a refund or credit. The system configuration we reviewed was priced using the one year limited warranty, but protection conscious consumers will be happy to find two, three, and four year coverage options are available for an extra charge. Realistically, if you're considering a system at this price point, then it makes sense to spend a bit more to upgrade the warranty, which includes in-home service. For more information, specific warranty conditions are available
here.


Of course, high end technology is never cheap. With a sticker price of $4,074, the Aurora ALX has a lot to prove. So, let's take a closer look at the system and see what the benchmarks have to say.

Article Index:

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It IS a pricey son of a gun. But it's got the right stuff inside of it too. I have a new personal respect for the awesome performance that these Intel systems generate.

The CyberPower PC system that I was lucky enough to win here on HotHardware.com far outclasses the Phenom based system I had before. The Intel 'Extreme Series' main board's software (Desktop Control Center) automatically determines the  proper voltages and speeds necessary to Overclock the computer safely and within warranty specifications. With the 2GB EVGA GTX-285 Video card and the water cooled CPU, my system runs at 3.75GHz. instead of the stock 2.93GHz speed. This is with no problems at all, and it's consistently smooth as silk while gaming at the HIGHEST settings.

(I can't believe that I'm about to say this considering my fixed income status and my years of loyalty to AMD parts) So even though Intel costs more for their top of the line parts, they remain a good deal for the enthusiast that wants the best performance out of his investment.

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"The active venting system found on top of the system can also be configured. Active venting is controlled through the Alienware Command Center and allows the user to open or close the vents based on internal fan speeds, as well as keeping them in a certain position. This exclusive feature helps the system stay cool as the five mechanical vents are triggered when internal chassis temperatures reach a certain point." 

That is one of the coolest things that I have seen/read/heard in a while.  Simply awesome.  I agree the price is way steep, and why wouldn't there be an ssd for that price either?

realneil:

(I can't believe that I'm about to say this considering my fixed income status and my years of loyalty to AMD parts) So even though Intel costs more for their top of the line parts, they remain a good deal for the enthusiast that wants the best performance out of his investment.

I'm pretty sure that has always been a fact for as long as I can remember.

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Thanks for this review! I'll have the same model and components your review model had on the first of November and I'm extremely excited. Trying to figure out what to play first haha.

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Completely agree about the SSD drives. Windows 7 shows signficant enough improvement over Vista in SSD operation that any new enthusiast gaming PC should have one.

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so most of that 4,000 is in teh grfx and cpu...

 

the hard drives aren't special at all =[

 

agreed! ssd or lower your price aliedell!

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That Alienware case is not worth it! Doesn't have good air flow and cooling. CM HAF-X or Thermaltake Level 10 case are the best chasis on the market!

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