Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition Review: A 3950X Invasion

Alienware Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition: Introduction and Specs

hero alienware aurora ryzen
Intel had a deathgrip on high-end gaming PCs for years while AMD's processors struggled to provide enough gaming performance to be competitive in the high end enthusiast tier. The tide has recently turned, however, and this summer AMD's Ryzen 3000 series of Zen 2-based 7nm processors took the world by storm. As a result of this monumental shift, Dell's gaming products division, Alienware has more recently started offering AMD's CPUs in its desktop lineup for the first time since the glory days of AMD's Phenom II. Previously we took a look at a Threadripper-powered Alienware Area-51 desktop, but on the table today we have a crazy-powerful configuration of the company's all-new Alienware Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition gaming PC with, you guessed it, a Ryzen 9 3950X under its hood. 

The Aurora R10 AMD Ryzen Edition obviously gets its name from the AMD Ryzen 3000-series processor at its core. Configurations start at $1,199 with the Ryzen 5 3600 hexacore processor working all the way up to AMD's latest 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X, that we have on the test bench today. Graphics options scale similarly, from Radeon RX 5700 with 8 GB of VRAM all the way up to our test config's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Aurora AMD Edition systems also include between 8 and 64 GB of DDR4 memory at speeds up to DDR4-3200. There are a couple of spinning 7200-RPM drives in the storage configurations, but we always recommend solid-state boot drives, and Alienware offers several NVMe SSD options that can also include a SATA hard drive as secondary storage. Let's take a quick look at everything on the table today.

closed side alienware aurora ryzen edition

Alienware Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition
Specifications & Features
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 3950X (16 cores, 32 threads, 64 MB L3 Cache, 4.7 GHz max boost)
Cooling Alienware custom closed-loop liquid cooler
Memory 32 GB dual-channel HyperX Fury with XMP at DDR4-2933 speeds
Motherboard Alienware AMD B550A chipset
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11 GB (OC ready)
Primary Storage 1TB NVMe solid-state disk
Networking Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet
Optional Qualcomm DW1810 1x1 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2
Optional Qualcomm DW1820 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2
Optional Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 2x2 with Bluetooth 5.0
Power Supply 460W or 850W
Enclosure / Lighting Options Dark Side of the Moon - 2 AlienFX unique programmable zones, 16.8 million colors
Lunar Light - 3 AlienFX unique programmable zones, 16.8 million colors
Operating System Windows 10 Home or Pro
Ports (rear) 5x USB 2.0 Type-A
3x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A
1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 with Powershare technology (15W) Type-A
1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (Killer E2500)
1x S/PDIF Digital out (optical)
1x S/PDIF Digital out (coaxial)
1x Microphone in
1x Line in
1x Line / Stereo Speaker out
3x Additional Line Out for use with 7.1 surround 
Ports (front) 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A with Powershare technology
1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C with Powershare technology
1x Headphone/Line Out
1x Microphone/Line In
Dimensions 18.96 x 17 x 8.77 inches (481.6 x 431.9 x 222.8 millimeters)
Maximum Weight 39.2 lbs (17.8 kilograms)
Pricing Starts at $1,199.99 (as tested $3,629.99)

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Our Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition Test Configuration

AMD's latest Ryzen 9 3950X headlines our test configuration that also rings-up at a little more than $3,600, though this processor config is a complete monster. Thanks to AMD's dual-chiplet packaging, this processor packs 16 Zen 2 cores with 32 total hardware threads and boasts 64 MB of L3 cache. Back in July, AMD said this chip was due to launch in September, but thanks to heavy demand, the company was forced to delay release, and it'll start shipping on November 25th.

AMD's mega-threaded monster starts shipping later this month, but we already know Zen 2 is very fast, and so this setup we have here should be great at heavily multi-threaded loads, like streaming CPU-encoded video while gaming. We're curious to see how it does in our gaming tests, but we're also aware that not everyone needs so many simultaneous threads for processing throughput. While we'll reserve judgment until the tests are completed, we think some users might be better served by Alienware's Ryzen 7 3800X option. Regardless of which processor you choose, the chip sits beneath Alienware's custom closed-loop liquid cooler with a 140 millimeter top-mounted radiator. That should be plenty to keep the processor's 105W TDP cool, and should offer some overclocking headroom to boot. We'll find out shortly though.

cooler alienware aurora ryzen

On the graphics front, NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti has been top dog since its release last September. Its 4,352 CUDA cores are unmatched by anything AMD currently offers, and its 68 ray tracing cores are the most available on a single GPU. The Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition should be a killer 4K gaming powerhouse, and we're certainly going to find out today. Our test unit has a single HDMI 2.0 port and three DisplayPort 1.4 connectors. There's also a USB Type-C DisplayPort connector, which pushes the total supported displays up to five. The HDMI port was perfectly capable of driving our TCL 55P605 4K TV at 60 Hz, so the only question left to answer is whether the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is able to push pixels at that resolution fast enough to play games. 

Storage comes in many forms, and the Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition can handle the vast majority of them. Primary storage in our review unit is a 1 TB Toshiba XG6 M.2 SSD. This drive has 96-layer 3D NAND driven by a Toshiba eight-channel controller which connects to four lanes of PCI-express 3.1 connectivity. In short, the boot drive should be really fast. If you need more space for your games library, that's not a problem; a single 3.5" and dual 2.5" SATA drive sleds provide enough room for plenty of expandable storage. Alienware helpfully lays out all the power connectors inside the case, but it's a BYO SATA cable party if you don't buy the system with additional drives already installed. 

rear alienware aurora ryzen

On the outside, Alienware has endowed the Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition with plenty of connectivity. Between the front and rear ports there are a total of 14 USB connectors of varying speeds. Most importantly, there are a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports for speeds up to 10 Gbps and several ports that have Powershare technology, which means they can provide up to 15W of power to devices that can use it. This makes the Aurora perfectly capable of charging many smartphones quickly and offering snappy transfer for the latest in external storage. Alienware also included separate headphone and front microphone ports for analog headsets, as well as enough line outputs to set up a 7.1 surround system. If you'd rather plug into a home theater, the coaxial and optical S/PDIF connectors will do that, too. 

Next let's take a look at the other goodies Alienware sent along, and then open this baby up to see what it's made of.

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