The Alienware Aurora ALX is a gaming PC with plenty of speed, flair and attitude. But it's the sort of system that polarises people.

Some will love the Alienware Aurora ALX's audacious design and extravagance - such as automatically opening air vents - others will mutter that the machine would be a lot cheaper if it had a more basic case. The fact is, though, the Aurora ALX is designed to appeal to a certain type of gamer - a gamer who wants a machine that looks as aggressive and willing to kill as the characters in their first person shooters. To this end, we think it delivers.

Alienware Aurora ALX: System design

While the moulded plastic that clings to the metal case gives the Alienware Aurora ALX gaming PC its alien-like appearance, the inside is also far from normal. In fact, the inside of the case shows just how much thought has gone into the design of the system.

What we like most is the construction of the drive bays: they face outward and are tool- and cable-less. The mounting points for the SATA data and power interfaces are secured inside the bays, and all you have to do if you want to add another hard drive to the Alienware Aurora ALX is slide it in and make sure it clicks into place.

It's a very neat system and it means there are no hanging cables to be seen anywhere. The only way the drive bays could be made better is if they were hot-swappable. As it stands, you have to switch off the Alienware Aurora ALX in order to perform upgrades.

We like the outward-facing drive bays in the Alienware Aurora ALX. They're tool-less and cable-less.

Another thing that's obvious when you look inside the machine is the small motherboard. While the Alienware Aurora ALX is a very powerful system, it has a micro-ATX motherboard. This has two full-sized graphics slots that can accommodate an ATI CrossFire configuration for up to four GPUs, but it doesn't give you a chance to insert any other expansion cards, such as a sound card or digital TV tuner. Luckily the ALX has eight USB 2.0 ports that can be used to add other components.

Ordinarily a micro-ATX motherboard would allow a manufacturer to create a PC with short stature. While the Alienware Aurora ALX isn't as big as it would be if it had an ATX motherboard installed, it's still a big PC. It will require a lot of desk space or floor area.

The Alienware Aurora ALX's CPU is liquid-cooled via a reservoir that's mounted at the rear near the air vents at the top of the case. Unfortunately, the graphics cards are not cooled with liquid, so you'll still hear their fans roar into action once you load up your games.

A shroud sits in front of the Alienware Aurora ALX's graphics cards to make sure that air moves efficiently through the rear of the system. The vents at the top of the case are perhaps the funkiest feature of the Aurora ALX: they open automatically when the CPU reaches a certain predetermined temperature.

It's quite cool to see the vents open and close by themselves as you use the system. If you place the Alienware Aurora ALX on the floor, you'll have to remember not to rest anything on it.

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