The Alienware Aurora R9 is the latest rev of the company’s premium gaming desktop for enthusiasts. With a starting price of $ 969.99, you can get yourself an Aurora R9 that won’t break the bank, but if you have more cash to spend, it’s endlessly upgradable. It can be configured with the most powerful components currently on the market, including Nvidia, Intel, and AMD options. The case itself has some neat features and design cues, as well. The Aurora R9 will be available on August 20, but we had the chance to get a first-hand look at a preview event in New York, so check out the photos, details, and impressions below.
Meet the New Aurora
The Aurora R9’s design is nothing if not distinctive. It matches the design language of the company’s reworked laptop line, delivering a more sleek and sci-fi look than previous models. Taste is of course subjective, but Alienware did a nice job nailing that futuristic, spaceship-like style that wouldn’t be out of place in Mass Effect.
It does all this in a tight package as well. It may not be immediately clear just how slim and relatively small the Aurora R9 is from a photo, but it’s quite thin. It measures 18.9 by 8.77 by 17 inches, so it’s not too tall or deep, but the thinness is really its best aspect. Not only can this save space, but it also looks slick and modern.
Alluring LED: Alienware’s New Favorite Flair
One of the most eye-catching features is the ringed LED on the front panel. Like the general aesthetic, the LEDs are reminiscent of Alienware’s redesigned laptops. The lighting is customizable, as well, so you’re not stuck with blue if that’s not your preference. This is unlike the Dell G5, a budget gaming tower that Dell announced alongside the Aurora R9 that can only glow its darker blue color. That may be a small feature, but it’s one of those aspects that separate the more premium Aurora from its more affordable counterpart.
‘Lunar Light’ Exclusive Lighting
The right side of the case holds the branded etching, as well as the Alienware logo LED lighting toward the rear. In my opinion, it’s a more tasteful way to get the manufacturer name onto the case, at least compared with the many more gaudy efforts I’ve seen over the years. Note that the Alienware text lighting is only available with this white “Lunar Light” color—it’s omitted on the alternative gray “Dark Side of the Moon” color option. To that point, the starting price listed previously is for Dark Side of the Moon, as the Lunar Light adds a price bump for this extra customizable lighting zone.
Pulling the door off the Aurora R9 is easy, but what waits underneath is a bit surprising. For a more premium desktop, the interior is underwhelming, even bordering on messy. It’s more akin to the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop, which puts function over form with an uninspiring interior. Even the less-expensive Dell G5 offers an optional window and clean interior.
To be fair, this is understandable given the chassis size. With this system, you’re meant to buy, plug, and play while admiring the exterior and the performance. And there are some clever aspects to the interior: The silver box holds the power supply, and swings out so you can access the components beneath. We’ve seen it before, but it’s a smart way to save space and very easy to use.
Component Choices: A Wide Range of Power
When you swing the arm out, the rest of the components are easily accessible. Dell offers a very wide array of configuration options. Like I mentioned, you can opt for the modest base-level Aurora R9, but it also scales up to include the absolute top of consumer components.
On the graphics side, you can choose between Nvidia or AMD, though there are many more options for the former. The Nvidia GPUs range from the GTX 1650 all the way up to the very pricey RTX 2080 Ti, with five alternatives in between. You can even opt for dual RTX 2080 cards. As for AMD, your choices are the two relatively recent Radeon GPUs, the RX 5700 and the RX 5700 XT. The CPU side is all Intel, with a wide range of options from the Core i3-9100 to the top-tier Core i9-9900K with Core i5 and i7 options in between.
You can choose between virtually any combination of storage, from a single small or large solid-state drive or HDD to a dual-drive solution with up to a 2TB M.2 SSD and an equally big HDD. Similarly, memory scales from 8GB to 64GB, and even includes some Intel Optane accelerated options.
Don’t Forget the Front Ports
Nestled in the glitz of the LED ring are the ever-important front panel ports. Because of the system layout, they’re all vertically oriented. Here you’ll find two USB 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, and headphone jacks. That’s nothing too fancy, but it is convenient to have USB-C included. Around back, there’s a fairly standard suite of desktop ports, but there are a lot of them. These include another USB-C port, four USB 3.1 ports, five USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, a DisplayPort connection, and audio lines.
A Futuristic Gaming Desktop
On the whole, the Aurora R9 is an attractive and very modern gaming desktop, at least on the exterior. I generally like the style, though whether you will want to put it in your living room depends on your taste. Still, it’s slim and comes with a wide range of component options, which of course can lead to very varied levels of performance and prices. We’ll have to wait until review units are available to put the parts to the test, so stay tuned.
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