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Alienware Aurora R4 Review

The Alienware Aurora R4 is without question one of the most eyecatching systems we have tested in recent years. Dell have the power to work with leading companies in the Far East in regards to case design and development. If we are being honest this is one of the main reasons that their laptop and desktop systems have proved popular. Nothing else on the market looks quite like them.

Whether you like the Alienware brand or not, we doubt many people would dismiss the case design as anything less than market leading. On first glance it resembles the Silverstone RV01, that being very long and running low to the ground.

On closer inspection however there are many differences, including the sophisticated top panel with a row of moving panels. These glow and extend when the machine is first switched on.

In a dark room, the Aurora R4 really is fantastic… it can almost look like an alien creature pulsing with life. The top row of individual panels move in a similar fashion to aquatic gills, which we are sure is an intentional design decision.

The side panels are crafted to block a clear view of the insides of the machine, and the lighting can be controlled to suit individual tastes. This will suit the enthusiast audience who love to personalise their machine.

Inside the case, the attention to detail continues. The side panels are decorated in Alien symbols, even though a relatively high percentage of the target audience may never even open the case to look inside.

We like these ‘little details’, as they can often make the complete package more satisfying. Sadly the insides of the case are not painted entirely black, which ruins the visage a little.

Technically, the choice of components is both good and bad. The Intel Core i7 3930k and Nvidia GTX580 are without reproach and combined lay out the foundation for a killer gaming system. Our synthetic and real world testing has verified this.

The choice of liquid cooler is also an inspired move, as it maintains great temperatures without emitting much noise. Sadly the bios is crippled to suit a beginner, meaning you will never be able to push the system past the default settings.

Regular readers of Kitguru will already know that we managed to get the Core i7 3930k to 4.8ghz without much effort, over 1GHZ higher than you will ever achieve with this machine. Playing Devil’s advocate we could argue that the target audience won’t care about overclocking, however there will be a percentage who will venture into the bios in the hopes of increasing performance without increasing the voltage.

From my point of view, it seems slightly inconsistent to omit support for overclocking completely, especially as the Alienware M18x laptop offered a handful of overclocking settings in the bios. If they offer this with a laptop, why not a performance desktop with quality liquid cooler?

We also never feel confident when a company include DDR3 memory without heatspreaders, especially in a high cost gaming machine. We know that Dell buy memory in bulk via their partners and then the hardware will filter throughout the various machines within their portfolio, but I do strongly feel they need to consider adopting a slightly different buying decision.

Buy gaming memory in bulk from a leading company and hold it in stock for the high end XPS and Alienware machines. It will only cost a few dollars more, but will give customers peace of mind, long term.

All in all, I have been impressed with this machine, there are a few things I would do differently internally, but the case alone will be a talking point for some time to come.

You can specify your own configuration over here. The system we reviewed today, cost £2,734 inc vat.

Pros:

  • Stunning case design.
  • controllable lighting.
  • noise is maintained well.
  • not a tall case, and will fit into space restrictive locations.
  • excellent all round performance.
  • high attention to detail throughout.

Cons:

  • It costs a fair bit of money, especially if you want the fastest hardware inside.
  • no heatspreaders on the memory.
  • inside isn’t painted completely black.
  • want to overclock? forget it.

Kitguru says: The Aurora R4 is a gaming machine which looks like nothing else on the market. Stunning !

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Rating: 8.0.

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