Alienware Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition: Accessories, Expandability, and Software
The 510K is an RGB backlit full-sized keyboard with low-profile Cherry MX Red switches with the same Lunar Light motif of the Aurora. All Cherry MX Red switches are linear, meaning there isn't any bumpy or clicky tactile feedback, and that makes this keyboard perfect for quick, preicision inputs in games with minimal effort. Without any tactile feedback, the keys are also super quiet—as quiet (or maybe even quieter) than typing on a membrane keyboard. MX Reds are some of our favorite switches, and typing on the 510K feels great. Each key has its own RGB LED built into the switch, and Alienware Command Center can give it plenty of crazy effects. Its $159.99 price tag is a bit pricier than some comparable keyboards, like Corsair's $120 K70 RGB Rapidfire and its Cherry MX Speed switches, but the look matches the system and works with Command Center, which adds both convenience and style when you're already shopping Alienware's product line.
$100 mouse comes bundled with a micro USB cable and a dongle receiver, which the mouse talks to in wireless mode. Alienware says the battery will last for up to 350 hours on a single charge, and there's a switch on the bottom to turn the 610M off when you're not using it to squeeze out more time. The mouse itself has seven programmable buttons with Omron switches and a clicky scroll wheel. Alienware doesn't say what sensor is in the 610M, but it's capable of detecting movements up to 16,000 DPI at 1,000 Hz. All told, it's a very high-quality mouse that feels great in the hand. We didn't detect any native mouse acceleration or angle snapping while tinkering in MS Paint, either, which is a very good thing. There's also a pair of RGB lighting zones on tap to light it up in coordination with the rest of the system.
Inside And Under The Hood Of Alienware's Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition
Finally, it was time to open up the Alienware Aurora and see what's coursing through its veins inside. Getting into the system is an entirely tool-free affair. Pull the release lever down at the top of the system's chassis in the rear and the side panel pops free and lifts right off the hinge. After removing the side panel, we're greeted by the system's 850W power supply and single 3.5" vertically-oriented drive bay, which swings free after lowering two other locking mechanisms on the rear of the case. The two 2.5" drive bays are also accessible without any further digging. Alienware helpfully laid out all of the power connectors for each drive bay, and nicely restrained the extra PCI Express power connectors, should we want to add a second GeForce RTX 2080 Ti for some ultra-high resolution SLI action.
The motherboard has a total of four DIMM slots, two of which are pre-populated with a pair of 16 GB HyperX DDR4-2933 modules for a total of 32 GB of RAM. It's good to see name-brand memory in the Aurora, with quality heat spreaders as well. This was not always the case with previous generation Alienware desktops.
Next to that is the pump for the system's 140-millimeter closed loop cooler. Alienware didn't use the standard Socket AM4 mounting holes, instead opting for what appears to be the standard Intel LGA-1151 socket's mount points. There's nothing wrong with doing so, either; AM4 is ubiquitous today, but should some day in the future you need to replace the cooler after the system's warranty expires, Intel sockets are everywhere and of course this simplifies the cooling system inventory situation for Dell as well. We like that everything is neat and tidy up top here, too.
Mounted to the top of the Aurora is a 140-millimeter radiator with a fan pushing air out the top vent. Two such fans provide all the ventilation for the system. The other fan sits behind the case's front cover pulling cool air in through the vents which outline the front of the case. Aside from these two fans, the only other spinners inside the Aurora are the power supply's 140-millimeter exhaust fan and the blower on the graphics card.
Below the CPU and RAM sits the Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card. This card uses NVIDIA's reference blower design, which exhausts heat directly out the back of the system. The motherboard has a total of four PCI Express slots, with a fifth rear slot for use with a second double-wide graphics card. On the right, you can see the 1 TB Toshiba NVMe solid state disk used for primary storage. The Killer/Rivet Networks 802.11ax Wi-Fi card sits on the left above the graphics card, and its antennas wrap around the inside rear of the case. Just like at the top of the system, the lower chamber is nice and tidy. Alienware paid good attention to cable runs throughout, and neatly tied any loose ends with zip ties where necessary. There's even a plastic brace to hold up the outside edge of the graphics card. All of the lower section's components get cooled directly by the front-mounted 140 millimeter fan and in general here, thermals look well-managed.
Alienware Aurora Software Experience and UEFIIf you read our recent Alienware m15 R2 review, you're already familiar with the main app bundled with the Aurora: Alienware Command Center. This utility drives everything Alienware, from the RGB lighting to overclocking. The Aurora's case has a pair of RGB zones: the power button and blue Tron-style ring on the front. Command Center also drives lights for the 510K and 610M peripherals. Command Center also gives access to some robust fan controls and a host of performance and cooling profiles. The other bundled app of note is Alienware Mobile Connect, which just like Dell Mobile Connect which comes with recent Dell PCs, gives access to texts and phone calls directly from the PC. That can be handy if you don't want to pick up the phone every time you get an SMS message.
Alienware Command Center gives plenty of options to drive the RGB lighting sections of the Aurora
On the UEFI front, Alienware doesn't give access to as many knobs and sliders as your typical DIY enthusiast motherboard. That's unfortunate, since that means you can't use helpful optimization tools like the DRAM Calculator for Ryzen, which can help tighten up timings and squeeze every last drop of performance out of that speedy HyperX RAM. You also won't find direct access to CPU multipliers, either. Overclocking is a Windows-only feature accomplished through AMD's Ryzen Master software, which we'll look at later on. The Alienware UEFI is friendly, however, and you can get to more basic settings like boot order and configure AMD PowerNow.
Next up let's start our performance tests with storage and productivity benchmarks.