Alienware has two competing PC builds on offer right now; the Aurora R11, which utilizes the latest 10th generation Intel processors; and the Aurora Ryzen R10, which is the AMD variant. Despite the Ryzen R10 seeming weaker by name — after all, 11 is higher than 10 — that isn't actually the case and both are suited to gamers who want to game with the best performance at the highest resolutions.
Both Aurora lines can be customized however you see fit so you can mix and match components, which means it's worth paying attention to the specs we had but also the fact that it's easy to see how these machines are considered some of the best gaming PCs. You can see the specs that comprised our review build, which comes in as one of the mid-range builds in the series and is priced just under the £2,000 / $2,500 mark.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Memory: 16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD (Boot) + 1TB HDD
Ports: Front: 2x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 w/ PowerShare, 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x Headphone/Line Out, 1x Microphone/Line In
Rear: 6x Type-A USB 2.0, 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 w/ PowerShare, 1x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2, 3x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x SPDIF Digital Output (Coax), 1x SPDIF Digital Output (TOSLINK), 1x Side Surround Output, 1x Microphone In, 1x Line Out, 1x Rear Surround Output, 1x Center/Subwoofer Output, 1x Line In
Connectivity: RJ-45 Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet; Bluetooth 5.0
Weight: 39.2 lb (17.8 kg)
The components do all the feature talking in this build and PC range. Kicking things off is the CPU, which is from AMD. The Ryzen 7 3700X is the brain within the review build I was sent; an eight-core, 3.6GHz, mid-range CPU that doesn't scream value for money inside this almost-£2k build, but it does the job very competently, as you can see from the Total War, Tomb Raider, and The Division 2 benchmarks - thought his takes the GPU into consideration too, naturally. Thanks to the customization options, you can upgrade this all the way to the Ryzen 9 3950X… if you want to fork out an extra £400/$400+.
The graphics card is where this machine starts to excel, as it's rocking the RTX 2070 Super. This is the high-end version of the 2070 card, surpassed in the 20-series by just the three 2080 cards, and the Titan RTX. While the 30-series cards are due out later this year, the 2070 Super will continue to be one of the better cards on the market and a great power-to-price tag value giver, and it proves why with all of the games I tested. This is covered in more detail below, but to be succinct, you can expect to max games out at 1080p and hit 60fps+, which is more than enough for most casual gamers and bodes well for those that prefer 1440p gaming too.
Inside the rest of this machine are two sticks of 8GB Kingston DDR4 memory, which suffices for a build of this stature, but again, for anything more intense it's not quite enough. Meanwhile, in the storage department, I had to deal with just a 256GB SSD. By all means, you can upgrade this, and I'd certainly recommend looking at that if you are keen on this PC. But as it stands, you'll struggle to get three AAA titles in that SSD. And there's no way you'll be playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare from the SSD, which is currently at 230GB by itself.
Alienware's own 0NWN7NM motherboard is at the center of all the above, holding everything together. There's little else to say here other than we had no issues because this specific unit can't be procured by itself. It's worth noting that it is rocking the B550a chipset, which AMD claim will support the upcoming Zen 3 line, slated for a 2020 release if you fancy an upgrade.
Since this is an Alienware PC, it comes with the Alienware Command Center. This software doesn't offer anything you can't get with third-party downloads, but it is useful to have everything in one place. From monitoring internal temperatures to changing the RGB lighting, overclocking the CPU, and a place to store all of your games, it's a useful bonus that I do admittedly wish was in my custom build.
Alright, I've got to be frank on this front: the Alienware Aurora R10 is ugly. It looks like a Dyson bladeless fan and that is not the aesthetic that appeals to me when it comes to a gaming PC. If it's your thing, however, there's no denying it stands out, and it's striking aesthetic will appeal to some, I'm sure.
One huge upside to this design is that you only need to unscrew one screw to remove both the left and top panels. Pull the side-cover release latch out, away from the case, and voila! The left panel slides off with ease. Then you just need to use slightly more force to take off the top.
The downside is that thanks to the case design not allowing for front-facing fans, room for fans has to be made inside. When you factor in the PSU cage being halfway up the case instead of at the bottom like most cases, it is hard to reach inside and adjust any components without removing the entire thing. The only thing you can easily access is the PCIe slot four, used for something like a sound card or internal capture card. Swapping or removing any other parts will be a true test of resilience, especially for those not well-versed in the art of computer components. Which is ultimately who this — and most other pre-builds — are aimed at. It's a smart design but one that wobbles on the balance between providing something that's great for one-time pre-built purchases, but offering something that can be modified down the line.
How does the Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10 fare on some industry tests? We've included these below to give you a feel of how it performs (all at 1080p).
Cinebench CPU: 4498pts
3DMark Fire Strike: 21,026pts
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme: 11,239pts
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra: 5,867pts
CrystalDiskMark: 3227.88 MB/s read; 1634.32 MB/s write
Tom Clancy's The Division 2: High: 117fps; Ultra: 90fps
Metro Exodus: High: 86.6fps; RTX: 63.0fps
Total War: Warhammer II: High: 105.9fps; Ultra: 82.0fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: High: 110fps; Highest: 104fps
Red Dead Redemption 2: Balanced: 70.7fps; Best: 24.4fps
How does this futuristic fan-looking beast perform? Frankly, not quite as well as I hope for with an almost £2k machine. With the Aurora Ryzen R10 — again, with the caveat that you can customize your components before buying for increased performance — you're getting a solid machine, but one that you could buy the individual components for around £500/$700 cheaper overall, so it always has this factor to head off and I hoped high, ready-made performance would be one means it did so.
With that said, if you're happy to pay the premium for the build quality and to eradicate the stress of having to build it yourself (or get someone to build it for you), what you'll receive is a gaming PC that can handle every modern game at 1080p minimum, often 1440p if you tone the settings down a touch. It's not quite enough to support 4K gaming, but you can expect to run 1080p games at 60fps+ with all settings maxed out (with a few exceptions like Red Dead Redemption 2, as shown in our benchmarks it can only hit that on medium settings). One thing to add is that the fans do run somewhat loud, especially in demanding games like RDR2 and Metro Exodus.
If frame rates are more important to you than graphical fidelity, however, you can take the settings down a notch and easily hit 100fps+ on almost all games at 1080p. If competitive titles with a high refresh rate are your thing, grab yourself a 144Hz (or higher) monitor and you'll far surpass those frames on games such as Valorant, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and the rest of the major esports games. On the flip side, grab a 1440p monitor and you'll still likely hit 60fps+ for those cinematic experiences. This is a big plus in the PC's skillset; being able to offer multiple 'types' and speeds of gaming and cross categories.
As someone who has never bought a pre-built and always builds his own PCs, it's hard to recommend the Aurora Ryzen R10 line mainly in the face of the considerable extra cost that comes with the Alienware brand name. The case design will be divisive but if it tickles your fancy, that will no doubt be a selling point. If you're keen to get a mid-range gaming PC that will last for the next few years at a minimum, playing the latest AAA games at 60fps+, then there's no doubting the machine's performance, however, and so you can't really go wrong with this gaming PC from a capability perspective. And if you're one of a growing movement that is moving to AMD-centred PC builds, then this is a great machine for you too.