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PCs Reviews
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Dell Alienware Aurora ALX review

From £3,828 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Alienware

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

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.

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.

NEXT: lighting >>

Business IT reviews and advice

Dell Alienware Aurora ALX Expert Verdict »
Intel Core i7 920 CPU
9GB (up to 12GB) 1333MHz RAM
2x ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards
liquid-cooled CPU
motorised vents
customisable light colours
Windows 7 Home Premium
875W power supply
21.5in Alienware OptX AW2210 Full HD Widescreen Monitor
1TB, SATA2 7,200rpm hard drive
dual-layer DVD drive
Wired Terminals/Ports, External SATA, DVI Output, Firewire, HDMI Output, Headphone Jack, Line In, Line out, Microphone Jack, Optical Digital Output, RJ45, USB 2.0, PCI Express x16
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

There's no doubt that the Alienware Aurora ALX is fast and can handle any game you throw at it. It's also powerful enough to be used for other pursuits, such as video and image editing, as well as 3D rendering. But the thing that is likely to draw you in or push you away from this machine is its design, even more so than its massive price tag. We like its design, especially on the inside, and think that the external moulding is suitable for people who want a gaming machine that looks the part. Put simply, this is a niche PC that's very powerful but won't appeal to everyone — not even all gamers. Those of you who do like the way it looks will end up with a PC that should keep pace with gaming developments for at least a handful of years.

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