Alienware Aurora R5 Review: Small Stature, Big Performance

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Aurora R5: Design And Build Quality

True to its lineage, the Alienware Aurora R5 is one attractive machine. The Aurora R5 isn’t as outlandish as its Area 51 big brother, but still pulls on many of the same design elements. Both models channel out of this world looks with slightly smoothed, yet very angular, silvery side panels. Black ventilation grills run along the top and lower front of the tower. Unlike the Area 51, the Aurora R5 maintains a traditional horizontal motherboard orientation, so the total design is still fairly rectangular, rather than a triangle like the Area 51, with the top sloping up to a carry handle in the rear.

alienware aurora r5 three quarters right side

The front of the Aurora R5 is endowed with a glowing alien head, which serves as the system’s power button. The LED zone here, along with the LED zones elsewhere on the case, are customizable via the included AlienFX software. A very slim optical drive bay sits just below the power button. Ours features the dual layer Blu-ray reader option.

alienware aurora r5 front view

Along the top, we find four USB 3.0 ports, two of which are charge enabled, as well as headphone and microphone jacks. These enjoy a bit of added accessibility thanks to the not insignificant slope of the top of the case.

alienware aurora r5 top front io

The sides of the case bow out slightly to a point in the center, along three adjoining lines. These lines are illuminated with the other two LED zones - one for each side. The left side panel provides some ventilation for the power supply and graphics card compartment. You can catch just a peak of the GTX 1080 slumbering inside. The right side has no such perforations. The left side panel is also removable to grant access to the impressively engineered interior. Before we dive deeper, however, let’s take a quick look at the rear I/O.

alienware aurora r5 three quarters left side

The Aurora R5 has no shortage of inputs. The motherboard’s I/O panel alone has 6x USB 2.0 ports, 3x USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, S/PDIF audio out (coaxial and optical), 6x 3.5mm audio ports, a Killer E2400-powered gigabit Ethernet port, and an onboard DisplayPort. Below, we find the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 offers up the expected DVI-D dual link ouput, HDMI 2.0b, and three DisplayPort 1.2 certified ports (1.3 and 1.4 ready). Really, the only bummer here is that the Type-C port doesn’t pull double duty as a Thunderbolt 3 port as well.

alienware aurora r5 rear io

The Aurora R5's intelligent engineering shows when we crack the case open. The design here is almost entirely tool-less so a quick pop of the rear release is all you need to get inside. The interior looks initially bland - we are greeted by the GTX 1080, a couple unpopulated 2.5" drive bays, and a very out of place power supply with a small rat’s nest of cables.

alienware aurora r5 side panel off

This power supply, you'll see, is actually well positioned to occupy what is usually dead airspace in a system above the motherboard. It is also fully modular allowing you to trim the fat until the time comes to upgrade.

alienware aurora r5 full modular psu closeup

The PSU sits on a hinge which is released by two additional latches in the rear and swings open to finally reveal the motherboard and remaining components.

alienware aurora r5 side panel off psu open

Our system features the recommended liquid cooling option. It uses a single fan radiator under the handle to exhaust heat. There isn’t a ton of airflow available to the motherboard compartment without this option as far as we can tell so it makes sense that liquid cooling is required with K-series SKUs.

alienware aurora r5 water block closeup

Overall, the Aurora R5 succeeds at being eye-catching without telegraphing to the world that it’s a gaming PC. We wish the interior was a bit prettier, but it’s not really designed to be shown off so it isn’t a big issue. We aren’t paying boutique prices here either, so we can only ask so much. The exceptionally thoughtful engineering and very solid construction more than makes up for it.

alienware aurora r5 gpu size comparison
GTX 1080 For Scale

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