Interior Layout and Bundle
To access the interior of the system, users must use the last vent found towards the rear of the system. Simply pull up on the vent and the side panel unlocks along the top edge. Removing the side panel gives you full access to the internal components. Once opened up, we find a cramped but clean layout. There is absolutely no wasted space in this micro ATX chassis as Alienware designed the system as compact as possible without losing the ability to house the fastest components on the market.
Alienware deserves a lot of credit for keeping things tidy as the wiring runs are hidden by a black cable wrap to prevent them from being seen. This is an important feature as airflow must be maximized, especially in a small enclosure such as this.
With the side panel off, it is easy to upgrade or install additional components down the road. Here, we find two available interior 3.5" hard drive bays along with extra DIMM sockets. But both PCIe slots are occupied on the motherboard by the 5870s in CrossFire and there are no free PCI expansion slots on hand. As mentioned earlier, there are two vacant 5.25" exterior drive bays as well.
Cooling duties are handled by several fans within the system. The CPU is kept in check by a single radiator liquid cooling system that mounts to the rear of the case. There is a dedicated hard drive fan found in between the interior drive bays and a fan devoted to cooling the videocards. Smaller fans are also placed above the memory slots and on top of the chipset heatsink on the motherboard.
We want to point out the initial system noise present at start up. After pressing the power button, the fan that cools the videocards revs up to its maximum speed and stays that way for about three minutes. This makes the system disturbingly loud during that time. We were alarmed the first time we powered on the system and never got used to the sound level the Aurora ALX produced at start up. On the bright side, the system ran whisper quiet after the initial few minutes and remained that way during testing, even through heavy loads.
Pictured above is the bundle that comes with the Aurora ALX. It features an Alienware TactX keyboard, mouse, mouse pad, and drivers disk. Note that the AlienwareFX lighting system also controls the colors displayed on the keyboard and mouse in order to match the color scheme of the desktop. The disk includes the Alienware Command Center utility, keyboard / mouse control interface, and setup guides.