Alienware Aurora R9 Gaming Desktop Review – Power You Can Rely On
The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop gives gamers a professional gaming powerhouse that is easy to use. Is it worth your money compared to a custom desktop? Let's find out.
1-Year (extendable up to 4 years)
+ Powerful gaming desktop
+ Easy to upgrade with toolless entry
+ Good array of ports
+ Easy to scale with your needs / budget
+ Flexibility for storage upgrades
+ Classy, practical design
+ Good to go right out of the box
+ Alienware Mobile Connect is helpful and easy to use
- GPU upgradability is limited due to design
- 460W variant is more limited in upgrades
- Could be more compact
- Custom gaming desktop has more value for money
- Alienware Command Center needs a big fix
Unboxing the Alienware Aurora R9
The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop comes in a rather large box. Inside it, you will find:
- Power cable
- HDMI Cable
- User guide
- Warranty card
- Alienware Aurora R9 Gaming Desktop itself
If you’re seeing the Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop on photos, it does look rather small. However, keep in mind that this is a mid-tower desktop so it is bigger in person. The rather elegant design choice for a gaming desktop is in accordance with the company’s Legend design language, as seen on the m15 and m17 gaming laptops.
For our review, we have the Lunar Light colour option, but there’s also the choice of Dark Side of the Moon.
Looking at the front, you have a vertical column with the Alienware logo (power button), three USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and two audio jacks for headphone and microphone. The column itself is surrounded by RGB lighting so you shouldn’t have trouble seeing the ports in the dark. Outside of the column, this area serves as an air intake for bringing air in to cool the machine.
On both the top and left side of the desktop, you can see air vents. There’s nothing much on the right aside. It’s hard to notice from the front but if you view it from the rear, you can see that the bottom is slightly elevated from the internals. This is to optimize air flow.
As for the rear, you have the vast majority of ports (which we’ve included in the specifications table in the next section), extra PCI-e slots, power port, service tag label, PSU diagnostics, security cable slot, PSU cage release latch, and side panel release latch. The latches allow for tool-less entry, so you don’t need to a screwdriver if you to open it up.
Overall, the Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop is an elegant machine that stands out with its power rather than the overdone gamer bling. You can place it on the table, or on the floor if you’d like. The mid-tower size should make it relatively easy to position the machine without taking up much space.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9700K (8C / 16T @ 4.6GHz, 12M SmartCache)|
|RAM||16GB (2 x 8GB SODIMM) 2666 MHz DDR4|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB GDDR6|
|Storage||512GB NVMe PCIe SSD|
1TB 7200RPM HDD
|Software||Microsoft Windows 10 Home|
Alienware Command Center
KILLER 1650 Wi-Fi card
AX1650 802.11ax Wi-Fi
5 x USB 2.0 ports
5 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port with PowerShare
|Audio||1 x 3.5mm headphone-out (analog/SPDIF)|
1 x 3.5mm mic-in
1 x Coaxial
1 x SPDIF
1 x Side surround output
1 x Line out
1 x Rear surround output
1 x Center / subwoofer output
1 x Line in
|Power||850W Power Supply|
|Dimensions||481 x 222.8 x 431.9 mm, 33.8 L volume|
The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop has two storage devices; a 512GB PC601 SK Hynix NVMe PCIe SSD as the primary drive and a 1TB 7200RPM Seagate Barracude HDD as the secondary drive.
The SSD performed really well so you can expect some really fast bootup / loading times. The HDD performed decently, and should be used to just store data rather than installing anything on it.
On Cinebench R15, the Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop did unsurprisingly well. The only machine that managed to beat it is the ASUS ROG Mothership, which is powered by the Intel Core i9-9980HK.
As for Unigine SuperPosition, the performance gap has closed in between the Alienware Aurora R9 and the ROG Mothership. This isn’t a surprise given that it’s a desktop compared to a laptop, and that it has an RTX 2080 SUPER instead.
While that bar may make it look like the difference is kinda large, it’s a difference of about 800 points in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark. It’s still a beastly gaming desktop nonetheless.
Now the difference gets interesting in 3DMark’s Port Royal benchmark. The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktops comes out on top. Once again, keep in mind that it’s using the RTX 2080 SUPER instead of the regular version, and that this benchmark is for ray-tracing.
On the subject of gaming, we tested it in an array of games running in 4K at the highest settings possible. The numbers seen in the chart is the average FPS that we got with the desktop. It did pretty well for its specifications and for the games that it didn’t get at least 60 FPS, it’s not a surprise as those are some of the most resource-intensive games running at 4K resolution.
Running temperature is good, with the CPU running typically below 70°C whereas the GPU is around the low 80s. This machine would definitely be overkill for Full HD, so I believe the sweet spot would be at 1440p unless you simply want to maximize frame rates, such as for competitive gaming.
The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop looks pretty small in pictures but it is actually bigger in real life. It’s not gigantic by any means however, as it’s a mid-tower size desktop PC. Upgrading is rather easy given the toolless entry case, so you simply need to pull the latch at the back to open it up.
While we did mention that it both an SSD and HDD as storage options, you can always swap it out / upgrade it whenever you like. There are both 3.5″ and 2.5″ SATA bays here, Changing it out is easy as you don’t need screwdrivers. You just need to make use of the tabs inside the PC.
The GPU itself is also easy to change but you will have to play around with the PSU cage first before you can swap it. There is enough space and slots for you to do a dual-graphics card setup as well, just make sure you use the case’s tabs to ensure that it is installed securely.
There are a ton of ports here, as expected from a gaming desktop of this size, which includes USB 2.0, USB 3.1, and Type-C ports. For display output, you have three DisplayPorts, one HDMI port, and a USB-C port that you’d expect from a typical GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER.
Speaking of the RTX 2080 SUPER, the GPU uses the blower-style fan, so if you ever want to upgrade in the future, you should keep in mind to find the blower-type as well, especially with the PSU cage hovering right above it. Depending on which option you pick, it may come with a 460W PSU, which severely limits upgradability even more.
The best part about the Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop is that it works right out of the box. Just plug in your favourite peripherals, power it up and you’re ready to go. With the amount of power this thing is packing, it’s definitely a joy to use. While it should be powerful enough to game in 4K, the sweet spot with high framerates would be at 1440p.
I personally don’t see any need to upgrade it any further than it is right now, and probably not for a number of years. If there’s anything that could use a change soon, it would be the storage and RAM capacity. Even then, it would be dependent on what you plan on using this for.
From my own use of gaming, Netflix, YouTube, web surfing and work (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and word processing), it does the job wonderfully with good running temperature. Given the power it has, it’s no surprise that it works smoothly for my needs. In the case of video editing, doubling the RAM would be nice but it’s not necessary unless my workload gets more complicated.
On the software side, it’s a hit and a miss. In the case of the Alienware Mobile Connect, it’s super helpful. It allows me to interact with my Android smartphone using the PC. Anything from calls, texts, notifications, using apps, and more. While I don’t see everyone using it, it’s very helpful if you need to mirror your smartphone’s display and transfer files easily.
As seen at CES 2020, the Dell / Alienware Mobile Connect software will be adding support for Apple iPhones soon. Click right here to read about it.
When it came to the Alienware Command Center however, it was a definite miss. For those of you who aren’t aware, this software lets your personalize and tweak your Alienware PC / laptop. From tailoring game settings to adjusting RGB lighting to even simple overclocking. All can be done in single application. It may differ slightly from product to product.
The issue here is that it doesn’t work here at first. The software was stuck on “Upgrading AWCC components” and I had to reinstall it. Afterwards, it managed to work but at a limited capacity. The FUSION section didn’t load up at all.
After learning that I had to download extra modules to get it working, I installed the necessary files, but only the power options managed to load. This is something Dell needs to fix as many users have reported similar issues as well with their Alienware PC.
Alienware Aurora R9 Verdict
The Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop is a powerful machine that will certainly satisfy any gamers. It’s easy to use and I doubt anyone would have trouble with it. Would it be better than a custom gaming desktop? Not exactly as it’s a lot easier to upgrade the PC as a whole, and you might be able to save some money while you’re at it.
That being said, it isn’t a bad idea to get this desktop if you like the Alienware “Legend” aesthetic, support from Dell, or you just want something you can get up and running quickly. Personally, I wished it was smaller but size is subjective. With that being said, I award the Alienware Aurora R9 gaming desktop with our Silver Pokdeward.
Big thanks to Dell Malaysia for letting us use this for review. If you wanna check out all the available configurations, click right here.