Alienware is known for their sleek looking machines draped in futuristic lights and most of all raw horsepower under the hood. Alienware have come a long way with their product offerings over the years, they introduced the X51 which looks like a next –gen console and is almost as powerful as one to boot, with the added benefit of being upgradable. The X51 is great for your casual couch based gamer but there is still a demand for something with a little more punch for the real hard-core gamers out there, so for that we move to desktops.
Alienware’s Aurora R4 is their answer to a gaming desktop, a pre-packed sleek chassis filled to the brim with their greatest tech. The first thing you will notice about the Aurora R4 is its intimidating aesthetics, a mid sized matt black chassis reminiscent of a stealth jet, finished off with the Alienware logo proudly branded on the front. There is more to the logo however than meets the eye, pressing it in releases a door that smoothly retracts down into the chassis revealing the disc drive. There is also an illuminating down light that brightens up the area to help you change out discs in low light environments.
Heading to the top of the chassis we find another door that can be pushed back to reveal the 3 USB ports as well as headphone jacks. Towards the back of the chassis there is a similar looking door that can be lifted to release the side panel of the chassis that can be popped off and put back on without the need of screws or bolts of any kind.
Once the panel is off you are treated to a cleanly packed system that looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Alien looking symbols and writing cover a black plastic door that can be opened to reveal the heart of the beast, the graphics card. This particular system had the below configuration:
There is a lot of room within the chassis and things like ram are very easily accessed thanks to the small yet effective cooling over the CPU. Powering up the Aurora is an event on its own, the fans power up to full speed just like a 747 does before take-off, then the machine settles down and is ready for anything you have to throw at it, and we threw a lot its way.
The first test was running it through a few levels of Crysis 3, one of the most resource hungry games on the market. We used the pre-set Ultra High, High and Medium settings all at 1080×1920 with 16x anisotropic filtering on. Ultra High saw fluctuations in outside areas form about 15-20 FPS with indoors areas jumping from about 20 -23. High settings yielded some more performance with outdoors areas running at 23- 25 and indoors at a solid 30FPS.
Medium settings is where things really took off with 40 FPS achievable outside and indoor areas hitting the 50 and occasional 60 FPS mark. Overall it handled itself really well and other games such as BLOPS 2 had no problems running at a silky smooth 60FPS without a hitch. Next up was the sweat test where we ran the Aurora R4 to a full load to see how it handled itself, first up was 3Dmark 2013.
The final test was running the Aurora R4 through PCmark7 which looks at more than just graphical power and the results were very good with the below score achieved.
So now that we knew the Aurora could handle itself we had to make it look the part and match all our other green glowing peripherals. The Aurora is all about brilliant build quality but it also lets you make your machine look completely unique through its extensive customization software. The Alienware Command centre lets you personalize the light panels that run in four different zones on the chassis. The options are almost endless and you can set the lighting to strobe if you love being distracted from your games or a slow heartbeat for a more intense look and feel.
The Alienware Aurora R4 is an incredibly well put together package, that not only looks and feels like a high end gaming rig but will step up to the graphical plate when it needs to. The Aurora R4 is the gaming desktop for not only the hard-core PC gaming veteran but also someone that might be new to PC gaming that wants the best performance money can buy without the hassle of custom building it. Just make sure your pockets are deep before looking into an Alienware Aurora R4, because although you get what you pay for, at R30 000 it will be out of reach for most PC gamers.