Alien­ware Aurora

A SOLID GAM­ING SYS­TEM FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE RE­AS­SUR­ANCE OF A BIG NAME, BUT IT LACKS AM­BI­TION

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - TIM DANTON

The fa­mil­iar Alien­ware head may glow from the front of the case, but this is no in-your-face gam­ing PC. Ac­ti­vate “Black­out” mode in the AlienFX set­tings and all the lights switch off, leav­ing an or­di­nary­look­ing sys­tem in its wake. If you seek dis­costyle RGB strobe light­ing, go else­where.

There are other hints that this is a pedi­gree gam­ing PC. The carry han­dle built into the top; its chis­elled pro le; and all the pow­er­ful hard­ware that’s packed within.

For this is a com­pelling speci cation. In­tel’s Core i7-8700 takes top billing; Dell sup­plies the pro­ces­sor at its stan­dard speeds, but you can use the Alien­ware over­clock­ing con­trols to tweak it. There are two over­clocked pro les – the more ag­gres­sive one boosts clock speeds to 4.6GHz, but our air-cooled sys­tem proved un­sta­ble at that point. It was hap­pier with a more gen­tle boost to 4.5GHz.

This had a no­table ef­fect on bench­mark scores. While the Aurora scored 204 in our tests at stan­dard set­tings, it jumped to 216 with the over­clocks in place. To put that in per­spec­tive, it meant our sam­ple video was rescaled from 4K to 1080p in 8mins 11secs in­stead of 8mins 44secs. A re­spectable im­prove­ment.

It’s gam­ing where such tweak­ing re­ally makes sense, though, and with our re­view ma­chine ship­ping with an 8GB GeForce GTX 1080 graph­ics card this sys­tem is built for play. Pre-over­clock, it romped to 83fps in Metro: Last Light Re­dux at 1080p with set­tings set to the max. That rose a mod­est 2fps with over­clock­ing. It was a more telling story in Dirt: Show­down, how­ever, where it jumped from 117pfs at 1080p, Ul­tra set­tings, to 127fps.

These over­clocks do cause tem­per­a­tures to rise in­side the case and the noise jumps a frac­tion too, but don’t imag­ine that this is a noisy ma­chine. The whine of its fans blend into the back­ground once you put some mu­sic on, only mak­ing them­selves known when the CPU is pushed to its lim­its.

Still, to put the Aurora into per­spec­tive com­pared to “proper” gam­ing sys­tems. I’m not just talk­ing about its re­sults in our bench­marks, al­though these speak for them­selves. I’m also talk­ing about the scope for up­grades and en­hance­ments.

For in­stance, the grey sides of the Aurora are plas­tic, and once you take the side panel off you’re greeted with a sight more at home in a cor­po­rate PC than one aimed at hard­core gamers. Yes, it’s nice to see two tool-less cad­dies at the bot­tom for adding disks, and it’s also clever how the panel con­tain­ing the power supply swings aside to re­veal the moth­er­board. This makes it easy to add ex­tra cards or up­grade the mem­ory, with three sock­ets free. How­ever, all that soul­less grey steel and ex­posed wires make it feel a poor cousin to the Scan.

In fair­ness, this isn’t Alien­ware’s top-end sys­tem. In­stead, the Aurora is for those on a smaller bud­get.

But this does leave me won­der­ing why any­one would buy this rather than a cus­tom-made model from an Aus­tralian com­pany, be that Mwave, PLE, PC Case Gear or any num­ber of com­pa­nies that have graced these pages. Is it for a sense of se­cu­rity? Per­haps. You only get a year’s war­ranty with the Aurora, but it’s on-site cover. Value? It’s cer­tainly al­ways worth hag­gling with Dell’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives on­line, and look­ing out for its oc­ca­sional dis­counts.

There are lit­tle de­lights. For in­stance it’s nice to see three top­mounted USB 3.1 ports on the front of the chas­sis, for easy ac­cess if you place it below your desk. It’s also for­ward-think­ing to in­clude a USB-C port, while Alien­ware neatly in­te­grates a DVD writer below the back­lit alien head. These are all de­sign our­ishes be­yond British com­pa­nies, which must rely on chas­sis pro­vided by third-party man­u­fac­tur­ers.

There’s much that Dell gets right with the Alien­ware Aurora, but ul­ti­mately it’s a pimped-up ver­sion of a stan­dard desk­top. If I was buying a gam­ing PC at this price, I’d choose a lo­cal com­pany.

KEY SPECS

3.7GHz In­tel Core i7-8700 pro­ces­sor • Dell moth­er­board • 16GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graph­ics • 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD • 1TB hard disk • Win­dows 10 Home • 212 x 361 x 473mm (WDH) • 1yr on-site war­ranty

As re­viewed, $2,498.98 • www.dell.com

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