Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition Review: A 3950X Invasion

Alienware Aurora AMD Ryzen Edition: Gaming Benchmarks

The Alienware Aurora R10 AMD Ryzen Edition's performance in synthetic benchmarks was nothing short of impressive, but now it's time to move on to our gaming tests. Playing the latest AAA games at high resolutions and detail settings is the reason you'd look to buy this desktop in the first place.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Orc-smashing Gaming Performance

Middle Earth: Shadow of War is a fun and and beautiful title set in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe. To test the game's performance relative to other systems, we set the resolution to 2560x1440 and turned the visuals up to the High preset. 

chart shadowofwar alienware aurora ryzen edition

Alienware's Aurora Ryzen Edition gets off to a great start with Shadow of War. There's always a slight difference in performance from run to run, so seeing the Aurora turn in a frame rate within a percentage point or so compared to our Core i9-7980XE testbed is exactly what we'd expect. What's illustrative here is that the SLI configuration in our Falcon Northwest Talon doesn't gain much. Shadow of War is largely CPU-bound here, apparently, even for a single graphics card. This game poses no challenge, so let's move on. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Mayan Apocalypse Gaming Performance

The finale in the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is easily the best-looking of the bunch. It's the latest installment in the series for heroin Lara Croft, driven with a revamped DX12 game engine. SotTR also supports visual effects like Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, Dynamic Foliage, Bloom shaders, Tessellation and more. 

chart tombraider alienware aurora ryzen edition

At 1440p, the Aurora Ryzen Edition has no problem turning in extremely smooth frame rates. Any time you're playing a game at north of 100 frames per second, the system is performing pretty nicely, and when the minimum reported frame rate approaches 90 fps, you're in high refresh rate gaming monitor territory. One thing you should get used to here, is the idea that this Aurora configuration's minimum frame rate approaches the average of a lesser graphics card at medium resolutions like 1440p. While we don't want to give anything away, we think you'll see this throughout the remainder of our suite. 

Oldest House-Cleaning Gaming Performance

We recently had a chance to dig into two of the fall's biggest graphical feasts, the first of which is Control. Remedy's latest thriller is full of mystery, adventure, and supernatural weirdness. From a technology perspective, it's also one of the most advanced games around, making the most out of Turing's DXR-capable ray tracing hardware. Those effects have a pretty heavy impact on performance because ray tracing is expensive computationally. For this test, we stuck to 1440p and 2160p once again, and turned all the graphical eye candy up to its highest traditional settings to see how ray tracing performance scaled.

The DIY PC in our charts has a Core i5-9600K testbed with 16 GB of Corsair LPX DDR4-3200 memory and a GeForce RTX 2080 Super. This is the same machine we tested Control and Gears 5 with when those games launched. While that machine can't hold a candle to the Aurora Ryzen Edition's 16-core CPU or beefier GPU, it's at least a point of comparison.

chart control 1440p fps alienware aurora ryzen edition

The Aurora's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti has around 25% more ray tracing hardware than the GeForce 2080 Super we tested with when Control first launched. That doesn't directly translate into a 25% higher frame rate because the graphics card also has to draw more frames using its traditional rendering pipeline before peppering the ray tracing effects. On the other hand, the 99th percentile frame rates are much closer to the average overall. Just like our result in Tomb Raider, the Aurora's low frame rate gets very close to our GeForce RTX 2080 Super's average at a given setting. This should result in a much smoother experience overall, even without a big bump in frame rates.

chart control 1440p frametime alienware aurora ryzen edition

Our theory about smoothness seemingly holds true. We're only showing the frame time chart for the High ray tracing preset here, but this persisted throughout testing. The Aurora does a great job cranking out consistent frame times in this game, without any hiccups or latency spikes. We've always loved the visual flair in Control, and Alienware's top-shelf configuration makes sure that we can enjoy that eye candy without stuttering at a pretty high detail level.

Let's see if it can do this well at a higher resolution.

chart control 4k fps alienware aurora ryzen edition

At a higher resolution of 3840x2160, the load of drawing the game to our 4K TV becomes very taxing. There's a larger gap between the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and its Super variant this time around, but 15% isn't really enough to make the game totally smooth during its more action-heavy scenes. Still, if you want to play Control at 4K, our Aurora Ryzen Edition's high-end configuration can do it with Medium ray tracing. The 99th percentile frame rates are still much higher than our DIY desktop, and the game sticks really close to 30 frames per second throughout at medium. 

chart control 4k frametime alienware aurora ryzen edition

Again the frame times are extremely tight and the Aurora doesn't lag or stutter. The overall frame times with high ray tracing generally stick between 40 and 50 milliseconds with high ray tracing enabled. This is an incredibly taxing graphical load and the Aurora handles it gracefully. While hoped for somewhat faster frame times out of Control, you can't argue with this result, where the game doesn't stutter whatsoever. You could improve frame rates a lot by turning off ray tracing, but that's one of the biggest draws of this game. We'd rather play at 1440p with at least the medium ray tracing settings intact, rather than turn them off for a higher resolution.

Gears 5
Swarm-fighting Gaming Performance

Gears 5 is the other fall blockbuster we had a chance to dig deeply into, and this game proves you don't need ray tracing effects to make a gorgeous game. As with Control, Gears 5 is super-new, so our charts are a little sparse. We tested at 1440p and 2160p again with the Ultra and High presets.  

chart gears5 1440p fps alienware aurora ryzen edition

Somewhat surprisingly, the scores between the Aurora and our DIY configuration are pretty close at 2560x1440. The difference here is that when we tested Gears on the GeForce RTX 2080 Super, we were entirely GPU-limited. During our Gears 5 testing on the Aurora Ryzen Edition, the benchmark at 1440p consistently showed that around 8% of all frames produced by the system were CPU-limited, rather than GPU. It's very likely that Gears 5 would benefit more from a CPU with a higher all-core boost speed than it does from having 16 such cores at its disposal. There's also a lot more headroom in the Aurora's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and the result is similar overall frame rates with a somewhat higher 99th percentile frame rate at Ultra. When we're eclipsing 100 frames per second, the performance is very, very good. 

chart gears5 1440p frametime alienware aurora ryzen edition

Our frame time graphs for the Ultra preset look a little more alarming than they actually are. The vast majority of frames fall in the 10 to 12 millisecond range, which equates to frame rates between 80 and 100. The graphs have some spikiness to them when the scene changes, but even those aren't bad. The absolute longest Gears 5 waited for a frame to draw to the screen involve 3 separate frames that took around 35 to 40 milliseconds each. Since they're single frames, you wouldn't feel any lag. This isn't an unusual graph, either; we saw similar performance from our test bed in the Gears 5 review. 

chart gears5 4k fps alienware aurora ryzen edition

At 4K we see some serious separation between the Aurora Ryzen Edition and our DIY configuration. The Aurora consistently turned in faster average and 99th percentile low frame rates, which is something we'd expect from a system with both a beefier CPU and graphics card. On the High preset, the game stayed north of 60 frames per second at this very taxing resolution, which is pretty impressive. 

chart gears5 4k frametime alienware aurora ryzen edition

Early on, there's a bit of a spike in our run on Ultra settings, but for the most part, frame times are pretty consistent, which keeps the frame rate moving along. Games with somewhat lower frame rates are much more playable when the graph looks like this than if the rates constantly spike up and down throughout. When it comes to 4K gaming on the latest AAA titles, that the Aurora is more than up to the task.

Now let's take a look at how much power the Aurora R10 AMD Ryzen Edition needs in order to pump out so much performance, and how the system keeps cool and hopefully quiet under load. 

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