Alienware Aurora R4 Review

The system we are looking at today might appeal to that audience, because it is the latest high specification Core i7 Aurora R4 which is shipped inside a very sexy custom chassis.
Alienware are a little like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Over the years of working with the company and reviewing their products, its been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really do appreciate their high spec custom gaming laptops (such as the stunning M18x), but have found some of their desktop systems to be a little uninspiring, even utilizing some questionable components.
The Aurora R4 which we are reviewing today however looks like a good move forward for the company. The basic system starts at an affordable £1,199, and can be scaled to satisfy the biggest, fattest wallets. The specification we have on our test bench today comprises an Intel i7-3930k, 8GB of DDR3 memory, SSD/HDD combo and a 1.5GB GTX580 running on 64 bit Windows 7.
At £2,734.00 inc vat it really does need to deliver the goods.

Alienware Aurora R4
Base Alienware Aurora Matt Black 875W Chassis
Microsoft Operating System English Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Memory 8192MB (4x2GB) 1600mhz DDR3 Quad Channel
Keyboard Alienware TactX keyboard UK QWERTY
Monitor Display not included
Video Card Nvidia GTX580 1.5GB
Hard Drive 256GB SSD & 1TB SATA 6Gb/s (7,200) 32 mb cache
Floppy Drives and Additional Storage Devices Alienware 19-in-1 Media card reader
Mouse Alienware TactX Mouse
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW (Read/Write) 24x
Sound Cards Integrated HDA 7.1 Dolby Digital capability
Wireless Networking 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 2.1 EDR USB
Shipping Documents English Documentation
Warranty 1 year Business Day Hardware Support
Processor Intel Core i7 3930K (six core, 12MB cache)
Dell System Media Kit Alienware Aurora Resource DVD
Total Price £2,734.00

The Alienware Aurora R4 arrives in a box big enough to house a small family.

Inside the box there is a small flat box which contains all the accessories. This can be seen resting on the main box above.

The bundle is extensive, including a TactX mouse and keyboard, Alienware branded mousemat, literature, power cable and software/operating system discs.

Both keyboard and mouse are quality items and we like the ‘Alienware’ branding. It will reassure the user that they have indeed bought something that little bit ‘extra special’.

The main system itself is protected inside a smaller box inside the main shipping container.

Inside are some very fancy sculpted plastic panels which ensure the curved panel of the chassis is protected during rough shipping.

Underneath, the main computer is protected inside a soft felt cover.

The Alienware Aurora R4 reminded me immediately of a Silverstone chassis design. Very low and long with a curved front panel.

Above, the top of the case from the front view and back view. The front panel rotates on the horizontal axis and can lock in either an open or shut state. The ports can only be seen clearly when looking at the top of the case, from behind.
There are two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port and a headphone and microphone jack here.

The top of the case is built around a series of panels, which almost looks like the armor plating of some futuristic creature.

When the system starts, these move upwards to allow for improved airflow and the first time it happened I wasn’t expecting it, so it took me by surprise!

The front of the case has a sliding panel at the top which hides the DVD optical drive and the 19-in-1 media card reader. The movement action on this panel is very smooth and it feels as if it could withstand some long term rough handling.

The side panels are cut out from the front to back with the familiar ‘alien symbols’ highlighted across the panels.

Some of the possible colours available, as shown above.

The rear of the case is well laid out, with the power supply mounted at the bottom. There is a locking system at the top of the case, which allows access to the insides of the chassis. You can see that the sides of the case have complex little middle sections which protrude outwards. These are quite tough, but we could see them getting damage if they could caught on something and then pulled outwards.

The rear is all black, apart from the expansion slots which are left unpainted. The power supply is also silver. Both of these are a little disappointing if I was being honest as it looks slightly unfinished. The GTX580 has several DVI connectors and an HDMI connector.

The side panels are heavy and we were surprised to see such attention to detail, as shown above. The insides of each door have received the special ‘Alienware’ branding, with custom pieces of artwork etched into the panels. A nice touch for those who open the case to look inside.

The Alienware Aurora R4 has several black plastic ‘doors’ inside, which cover sections of the hardware. These also receive special Alienware branding to enhance the appearance. We were a little disappointed to see that the case wasn’t completely painted black to match the outside design.

The door covering the graphics card can be removed by pushing in, then pulling out. The Nvidia GTX580 is then exposed.

The optical drive is white, and is hidden behind another Alien styled black plastic panel. We think this would have looked better if the internals of this case were all black, rather than naked metal.

The hard drive is attached to rails and it can be removed by simply pushing in on the side levers.

A popular all in one liquid cooler, which again receives the Alienware treatment.

Sadly, no fancy gaming memory in this machine, just naked DDR3 sticks as shown above. Alienware are a part of Dell, and they purchase a huge quantity of DDR3 memory from partners in one order. This will mean that this memory will get farmed out into a wide range of computers within their portfolio, including this high end gaming system.
This has always been a major let down for me when analysing a Dell desktop computer and while it isn’t a huge issue technically, it brings disappointment every time I see it. High quality gaming memory with heatspreaders is so inexpensive now, but Dell work to strict margins and bulk orders. After experiencing all the lovely panel touches and design extravagance with the Alienware Aurora R4 it just hits home that these computers are really ‘factory production’ designs.

Don’t be expecting an enthusiast grade bios, because Alienware have stripped out all the overclocking options, leaving the basics on offer. There really is not much to report on this page, so we will present a few images from various sections of the bios instead.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit as the owner/source.

We don’t really hold the Windows Experience score in high regard, but as a quick overview of potential performance it is a decent early, brief indicator. This system scores 7.7 out of 7.9 points, held back a little by the Solid State Drive performance.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a very short list of software installed on this machine, which is very unlike Dell/Alienware. Only the bare minimum of software is installed, including a few proprietary Alienware branded applications.

A quick overview of the system in CPUz and GPUz highlights the Core i7 3930K processor which can turbo past the default clock speed of 3.2ghz to 3.8ghz. The motherboard is an Alienware branded model ’07JnH0′ Version A03 in this case. Alienware are using 8GB of Hyundai branded 1600mhz DDR3 memory which is set at relaxed timings of 11-11-11-28 @ 1T.

As with many Alienware machines, they are using custom software to let the user adjust the colours on the case. This is an identical system to that experienced on the Alienware M18x gaming laptop. There are also some thermal controls on offer, although the default configuration is perfectly fine. This detailed control panel would have made a little more sense if the system was supplied in an overclocked state.
To test the system today, we are using a mixture of synthetic and real world software as well as a series of games. We will also compare the results from the Alienware Aurora R4 against some other systems we have tested in recent months.
We updated the Nvidia drivers to the latest set available at the official website.
These are listed below:
Comparison Systems:
Intel Core i7 2700k System
Cooling: ThermalTake Frio OCK
Graphics: XFX HD6870 Black Edition x 2
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Chassis: Silverstone Raven 3.
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory
Storage: Intel 80GB SSD (boot) / Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD.
Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2410 Rev A00.
AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Monitors: 3x Ilyama ProLite E2472HDD
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T @ 3.3ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire
Intel Core i7 2600k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600k @ 3.4ghz
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen 3
Cooler: Intel XTS-100H
Memory: ADATA 1600mhz DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Boot Drive: Intel 510 SSD 250GB
Intel Core i5 2500k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2500k @ 3.3ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2 CPU Cooler
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory 8GB (2x4GB)
Graphics Card: HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Boot Drive: Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD.
3DMark 11
3DMark Vantage
PCMark 7
Cinebench 11.5 64 bit
FRAPS Professional
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
HD Tach
Atto Disk Benchmark
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 11
Cyberlink MediaEspresso
Alan Wake
F1 2011
Battlefield 3
Mass Effect 3
Total War: Shogun 2
Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Lacie 730 Monitor (Image Quality testing)
Dell U2410 Monitor
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter
Nikon D3X with R1C1 Kit (4 flashes), Nikon 24-70MM lens.
Some game descriptions are taken and edited with courtesy from Wikipedia.
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.
Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.
It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.
Native ports for all major operating systems are available:
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)
All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:
  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

The 3930K in the Alienware Aurora R4 really delivers the goods, outperforming all the other systems for comparison. If they had used higher grade 2,133mhz or 2,400mhz memory with tighter timings, over 40 GB/s bandwidth would have been possible.
PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.

The system scores quite well in PCMark 7, with 4,887 points.
CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

The 6 core 3930K manages to break the 10 point score barrier, showing the power on tap from the latest generation of high end Intel processors.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.

The processor helps boost the overall score to just under 31,000 points. The GTX580 scores 25,664 points which shows the old high end board still has plenty of life left in it.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

6,721 points is what we would expect from this system, powered by a GTX580. A strong score indicating plenty of gaming performance on hand.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here.

Alienware Aurora R4
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 3
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5:5 FPS Animation
6:4 12 FPS Animation
8:7 8 FPS Animation
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
Random Noise: Sailboat
Random Noise: Flower
Random Noise: Sunrise
Random Noise: Harbour Night
Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Luminance Frequency Bands
Chrominance Frequency Bands
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
Theme Park
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
Skin Tones
Total 192
The hardware scores 192 points out of a possible 210 which is excellent.
The Alienware Aurora R4 system uses a combination of SSD and HDD to combine speedy start up with plenty of storage capacity. This is an ideal way to set up a high performance gaming system.

Alienware and Dell use last generation Samsung Solid State Drives, so they are limited to SATA 2 transfer speeds. The Solid State Drive is significantly faster than the 1TB mechanical drive (as would be hope for), although 120MB/s sequential read/write is as fast as we could expect.

The ATTO Bench benchmark records similar results as seen with the CrystalDiskMark test. Decent performance from both drives.
V2011 is the first release of 3DStudio Max to fully support the Windows 7 operating system. This is a professional level tool that many people use for work purposes and our test will show any possible differences between board design today.
Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 software offers compelling new techniques to help bring designs to life by aggregating data, iterating ideas, and presenting the results.
Streamlined, more intelligent data exchange workflows and innovative new modeling and visualization tools help significantly increase designers’ creativity and productivity, enabling them to better explore, validate, and communicate the stories behind their designs.
Major new features:
  • Slate: A node based material editor.
  • Quicksilver: Hardware renderer with multithreaded rendering engine that utilizes both CPU and GPU.
  • Extended Graphite Modeling Toolset
  • 3ds Max Composite: A HDRI-capable compositor based on Autodesk Toxik.
  • Viewport Canvas toolset for 3D and 2D texture painting directly in the viewport
  • Object Painting: use 3D geometry as ‘brushes’ on other geometry
  • Character Animation Toolkit (CAT): now integrated as part of the base package
  • Autodesk Material Library: Over 1200 new photometrically accurate shaders
  • Additional file format support: includes native support for Sketchup, Inventor
  • FBX file linking
  • Save to Previous Release (2010)
We created a new 8200×3200 scene and recorded the time for the hardware to finalise the render.

The 6 core 3930k is a very high performance chip and the time saved over even the 2600k and 2700k is noticeable.
CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.
Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.
New and Improved Features
  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.
For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are using the newest version which has been optimised for Sandybridge processors.
Graphics acceleration is enabled, so the GTX580 can be factored into the result.

The Alienware Aurora R4 completed the encoding task in 9 minutes and 30 seconds, which is in the top 10 percent of results to this date.
Handbrake is a fantastic free program which we wanted to include to confirm findings with Media Espresso, earlier in the review. HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.
We used the latest V 0.9.5 for testing today across all platforms. We encoded an DVD.MPG file.

Almost a full minute faster than the Core i7 2700k system, 4 minutes and 30 seconds compared to 5 minutes and 28 seconds.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.

Even with 16 x CSAA enabled, the Alienware Aurora R4 manages to power through this game without any problem.
Battlefield 3 is one of the finest looking first person shooters released in the last year. In campaign mode, players take on the personas of several military roles; a USMC recon Marine, an F-18 systems officer, an M1A2 Abrams tank operator, and a SPETSNAZ operative. The campaign takes place at various locations, from Iran to New York, and follows the story of Sergeant Blackburn and later, Dimitri Mayakovsky.

We cranked the image quality to ultra/high settings as shown in the screenshot above, and the game was butter smooth – it looked fantastic too. Frame rates never dropped below 50 during our test environment.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game.

The system averaged 52 frames per second at these high image quality settings.
Gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is influenced by decisions from Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Combat has been changed and refined; in particular, the cover system has been improved, there are more options for moving around the battlefield, instant melee kills and more conventional grenades are introduced as well as improved artificial intelligence. A four player multiplayer co-op mode is also available.

The system maintained excellent, smooth performance throughout, averaging 50 frames per second.
Alan Wake is a third-person shooter psychological thriller action game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The story follows bestselling thriller novelist Alan Wake, as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his wife’s disappearance during a vacation in the small (fictional) town of Bright Falls, Washington, all while experiencing events from the plot in his latest novel, which he cannot remember writing, coming to life.

Smooth performance at these high image quality settings, dropping only once below 40 frames per second.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests. Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum

The system can be loud, but generally only when it first starts up, measuring over 38 dBa with our meter. Generally it moves between 31.5 dBa and 35 dBa, when watching movies or gaming. It isn’t the quietest system we have tested, but we doubt the noise emissions would annoy the target audience.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 23c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after 30 minutes of ‘resting’ in the Windows 7 environment. System temperatures were measured by running Furmark with Cinebench R11.5 64 bit in a loop for 30 minutes then recording the maximum temperatures during this time period.

We attached 5 diodes to the internal of the chassis.
1: next to the optical drive at the top of the case.
: Above the motherboard, next to the CPU radiator.
3: Above the drives.
4: next to the memory, above the graphics card.
on the power supply.

The case copes well, considering the small vertical footprint. We have no concerns, although it is disappointing that Alienware didn’t allow for overclocking in the bios as the system has potential for modest clock gains. Most 3930K can hit 4.2ghz-4.4ghz without any core voltage increase.
To measure power consumption, we used a power meter which was attached directly to the system, excluding all external devices including the monitor.

We tested the system by running the last test in 3DMark 11 which stresses both CPU and GPU. We recorded a total of 392 Watts. The 850W power supply should be close to peak efficiency at the full load of this system.
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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About Yomal Malinda

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  1. WoW man... AWESOME!!!! :) :)

  2. I just ordered one of these for gaming/modding. I know zero about making my own computer. But I can work a computer fairly decent. I asked the guy at alienware to give me the latest and greatest he told me a bunch of jibberish computer talk. He assured me that it was the fastest thing on the market and I was getting aliens "very best" turnes out being a little over 3500 we will see if it was worth the price.

  3. I Just purchased an R4 but I didn't pay half that. I bet my build will do anything yours can do. Why because the core is what matters everything else is overpriced and candy coated. This comp can be upgraded with the best for less than what they are asking. I priced out all the upgrades I will get that will actually surpassed the best core build they sell at max price I can't imagine paying $4k+ to Alienware when you can by the base and upgrade it with premium parts you can find online. I can easily dropped a Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Processor and OC it up 5.1 for way less add a second card for SLi and faster memory and your done, your only looking at spending $1300k or less. That only add up to est. $3k total for a sick up to date rig that is waiting on better components to be released.

    Item Description Unit Price Extended Price
    1 Alienware Aurora-R4 $1,566.02 $1,566.02
    1 Intel Core i7-3820 (Quad Core, 10MB Cache) Overclocked up to 4.1GHz
    1 8GB Quad Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz
    1 Alienware MM Keyboard, US
    1 No Monitor
    1 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon HD 7870
    1 1TB Serial ATA 3 Hard Drive
    1 Alienware Aurora X79
    1 Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, English, w/Media
    1 Alienware Documentation - English
    1 Dell Resource DVD with Application Backup
    1 Dell Support Center 3
    1 DataSafe Local BackUp
    1 Alienware Optical Mouse, MG100
    1 AlienFX Color, Quasar Blue
    1 Adobe Acrobat Reader
    1 Single Drive: 24X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
    1 Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    1 Alienhead 3D
    1 No Microsoft Office
    1 Dell Hardware Warranty Plus On-Site Service, Initial Year
    1 Next Business Day Parts and Labor On-Site Response, Initial Year
    1 1 Year Limited Warranty
    1 No Warranty, Year 2 and 3
    1 Soft Contracts Dell In-Home Hardware Agreement for Alienware
    1 Warranty Support, Initial Year
    469-2456 1 $200 Dell Promo e-Gift Card - Arrives in 10-20 days via email, carries a 90 Day Exp. Terms at
    A5750525 1 Your Dell Advantage benefits have been applied $1.00 $1.00
    Subtotal: $1,567.02
    Shipping & Handling: $0.00
    Tax: $97.95
    Environmental Disposal Fee: $0.00
    Total Price w/Discounts: $1,664.97



  6. I purchased one of these machines Dec 23rd 2012 and had it in my hands Dec 26th. It is without any doubt whatsoever the fastest pc on the market. And you truly cannot appreciate how awesome it looks until you are standing next to it.

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