Alienware Aurora R8 Gaming Desktop Review

Alienware Aurora R8 Gaming Desktop Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

The aesthetic of Alienware’s desktop computers has not changed in the slightest. It looks just like it always has. A UFO-inspired design features aggressive angles and simple RGB lighting. Alienware Command Center allows you to customize the three RGB light bars on the side panels (these can be customized). Also on the front, the Alienware logo is illuminated, breaking up the all-black section between the two silver panels. On the front panel and the left side panel, there are ventilation holes, as well as on the top panel.

It would be nice if Alienware used more aluminum. It is very plasticky (although reinforced with metal). For the base model, that makes sense, but once you reach the $2,000 configuration mark, it feels a bit out of place.

The Aurora measures 18.6 x 14.2 x 8.4 inches, which is larger than many of its competitors. Corsair Vengeance 5180 measures 15.7 x 10.9 x 13.8 inches, while MSI Trident X measures 15.6 x 15.1 x 5.1 inches. Size-wise, the closest competitor is the HP Omen Obelisk, which measures 17.1 x 15.1 x 6.5 inches.

Alienware Aurora R8 Specifications

Processor Intel Core i7-9700K
Motherboard Alienware-branded, Model IPCFL-SC/R with Z370 Chipset
Memory 32 GB HyperX DDR4-2933
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6)
Storage 512GB SSD + 2TB, 7,200-rpm HDD
Optical Drive
Networking Killer 1535 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Ports Front: 3x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.0 Type-C, 1x mic in, 1x headphone outRear: SPDIF, Ethernet port, 8x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, audio jacks
Video Output DisplayPort, HDMI
Power Supply Alienware 850 Watt Power Supply
Cooling 1x case fan CPU watercooling1x GPU fan1x PSU fan
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Extras Optional keyboard and mouse
Dimensions  18.6 x 14.2 x 8.4 inches (472.5 x 360.5 x 212 mm)
Price As Configured $2,624.99 / £2,855.15

Ports and Upgradeability

Alineware aurora pc

On the front of the Aurora, I appreciated the variety of ports. There are three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, and separate headphone and microphone jacks on the top. There are nine more Type-A USB ports on the back (eight USB 3.0, one USB 3.1), plus a Type-C port, an Ethernet jack, a SPDIF port, a variety of audio jacks, and a DisplayPort.

The first time you access the Aurora, you’ll need tools. In the back of the case, there’s a Phillips head screw holding a lever in place. The left side panel pops off when you press the lever, revealing the power supply. 

I was told by an Alienware representative that the screw is just there to keep the machine safe during shipping and doesn’t need to be replaced.

Two switches on the back lock in the power supply and, when released, it swivels out to reveal all of the other components, including the graphics card (held up by a bracket), RAM, CPU water cooling, and a pair of drive bays.

The PSU stands in the way of more significant changes, like new case fans, and replacing the PSU would be difficult because of its unique design. Despite that, we found the cable management to be acceptable, except for a GPU power cable that was plugged into the motherboard and rested on the graphics card itself.

Gaming, Graphics, and VR

As the Aurora has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, it’s capable of gaming at the highest settings and enabling ray tracing in certain games. I played Anthem in 4K at ultra settings and it ran between 38 and 48 frames per second (fps) with some heavy screen tearing. I turned it down to FHD, though, and it ran at a smooth 106 – 121 fps, only dropping to those lower frame rates during some intense flying. 

In the Hitman benchmark (ultra settings), the Aurora ran at 143 fps in FHD, tying the Trident and beating the average. At 4K, the frame rate dropped to 77 frames per second, just below the average gaming desktop and MSI’s machine.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider (highest settings), the Aurora averaged 88 frames per second in FHD and 30 frames per second in 4K, just below the average gaming desktop (94 and 34 frames per second, respectively), but only below the Vengeance in our comparison.

According to the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (very high settings), the Alienware ran at 97 frames per second in FHD and 34 frames per second in 4K. Compared to the average, the former is better.

On the SteamVR performance test, the Aurora earned a perfect score of 11.

Metro Exodus has an RTX preset in the benchmark so I used that to stress test the Aurora. Each run simulated 30 minutes of gaming. The game averaged 55.6 frames per second across all 15 runs. The CPU reached an average clock speed of 4.2 GHz was It reached 53.2 degrees Celsius (127.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The GPU ran at an even average temperature of 76.3 degrees Celsius (169.3 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded for the GPU.

Productivity Performance

gaming pc

With its 64 GB of RAM, 512 GB PCIe-NVMe SSD, and 1 TB 7,200-rpm HDD, Intel’s Core i7-9700K is no slouch. When you aren’t gaming, the Aurora is a real workhorse.

A 4K video was transcoded to 1080p using Handbrake video editing software. This was completed in 7 minutes, 14 seconds. The Vengeance is faster than the Omen, but below average (6:56) and the Trident (5:38).

In Geekbench 4, the Aurora scored 28,995, which is higher than the Vengeance and Omen (both with a Core i7-8700) and the gaming desktop average (22,906). On this test, however, the Trident achieved a score of 31,581 thanks to its Core i9-9900K.

Using the Aurora, 4.97 GB of files were copied in 8 seconds, which is 636.2 MBps. It is also faster than all of its competitors (426.7 MBps), not just the average.

In our Excel macro test, Alienware’s rig took 29 seconds to pair 65,000 names and addresses, bettering the average of 32 seconds and falling only behind the Trident.

Keyboard and Mouse

Our review unit did not include a keyboard or a mouse, which makes sense for those who already have them.

Dell (Dell is Alienware’s parent company) allows you to buy one of each for no additional cost in the United States.

Dell’s configurator allows you to remove the mouse to save $13.84 by removing the keyboard by default in the UK.

Software and Warranty

There is a light software preload included with the Aurora. With Alienware Command Center, you can customize RGB lighting, enable one-click overclocking, and use it as a launcher for games. You can make calls, send texts, and see notifications when your phone is connected to your computer using Alienware Mobile Connect.

In addition to Windows 10, the Aurora comes with all of the bloatware included with that operating system, including Plex, Phototastic Collage, PicsArt, and Fitbit Coach.

The Aurora R8 is covered by a one-year warranty from Alienware.

Configurations

This system is equipped with an Intel Core i9-9700K, 32 GB of RAM clocked at 2,933 MHz, a 2 TB HDD, and PCIe-NVMe SSD, and it costs $2,624.99.

It comes with an Intel Core i5, 8 GB of DDR4 at 2,666 MHz, a 1 TB, 7,200-rpm HDD, and AMD Radeon RX 560X.

There are also options with Nvidia’s older 10-series GPUs and a variety of storage options between those two. I could put together a nearly $5,000 machine on Alienware’s configurator with an Intel Core i9-9900K, two Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPUs in SLI, 64 GB of RAM clocked at 3,200 MHz, a 2 TB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, and 2 TB 7,200-rpm HDD.

Pros Cons
There are a lot of configuration options A few components are difficult to reach
Performance of high quality Larger than competitors
Easy to open
Lots of USB ports

Conclusion

Alienware’s Aurora R8 is a powerful machine that’s easy to upgrade, but its design doesn’t match the cleaner, more modern aesthetics offered by its competition. I anticipate a redesign based on the company’s new design language, like the Alienware Area-51m gaming laptop.

You might be interested in the MSI Trident X if you want something smaller with a swinging door and easy upgrades. Currently, a machine with a Core i9-9900K, 16 GB of RAM, and otherwise comparable specs sells for $2,499.99. Also, all parts are off-the-shelf.

If, however, the spaceship aesthetic appeals to you and you want more options in configuring your desktop, the Aurora is the better option for those seeking something customizable out of the box.