Alienware Aurora ALX review

Price when reviewed

Alienware machines are some of the most unashamedly aspirational systems on the market today – powerhouses that place just as much emphasis on first impressions as they do framerates. The firm’s latest, the Aurora ALX, is no different.

The exterior features the dramatic lines and matte black finish that we’ve come to expect, and every crack and crevice is filled with a light – which, of course, can be changed to a colour of your choice, or even made to pulse and flash. The lid is adorned with a row of motorised fins, which are designed to rise up and let more air into the case should the temperature inside reach a certain threshold.

Inside, the major components are sequestered into their own areas to improve airflow and heat dissipation, while the processor is chilled by a Cool-It water-cooling unit. There’s even a battery-powered light that illuminates the inside of the chassis when the side is removed, in line with Alienware’s claim that the Aurora ALX is one of its most easily upgradeable machines ever.

Alienware Aurora ALX

While some of these additions sound impressive, they’re less useful in the real world. The roof fins, for instance, made no difference to CPU and GPU temperatures: when the system was stress-tested with and without the fins activated, the processor peaked at around 68. The graphics card, meanwhile, always ran around 5˚C hotter. With just a single intake fan at the front and another on the rear water module, those top vents just don’t get the air pushed towards them to be of any real use.

We also found the case awkward. The GPU cage and housing makes graphics card removal far trickier than it would be in the average chassis, and while there’s a decent amount of room to upgrade – three free DIMM slots, a pair of hard disk bays and a single PCI Express x16 slot – the numerous stray cables that litter the interior make the upgrade process a bit clumsy.

The water-cooling unit also generated plenty of noise, especially when the Aurora ran through our demanding graphical tests. It’s possible to reduce the fan’s RPM via Alienware’s thermal control software, but this still left an audible hum that became significantly louder during arduous sections. The use of water-cooling should really be about pushing a processor to its limits, but the chosen CPU – an Intel Core i7-920 – is inexplicably left running at its stock speed of 2.66GHz. A quiet heatsink and fan would have done the job perfectly well.


Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 2,000
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Screen size 22.0in


CPU family Intel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency 2.66GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 1366
HSF (heatsink-fan) Cool-It water cooling


Motherboard Alienware MS-7591
Motherboard chipset Intel X58
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 6
Internal SAS connectors 1
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec


Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 3
Memory sockets total 6

Graphics card

Graphics card ATI Radeon HD 5870
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 5870
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB
Hard disk 2 make and model Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 1,000GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity 931
Hard disk 2 spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 cache size 32MB
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A


Optical drive Samsung TS-H6536
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A


Monitor make and model Alienware
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Pixel response time 2ms
Contrast ratio 80,000:1
Screen brightness 300cd/m2
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 2
VGA inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Peripherals N/A


Chassis Alienware Aurora
Case format Micro ATX
Dimensions 216 x 615 x 430mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 8
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel FireWire ports 1
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Alienware wired keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied Alienware ThermalControls, Alienware AlienFusion, Alienware AlienFX

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 2.04
Office application benchmark score 1.65
2D graphics application benchmark score 2.28
Encoding application benchmark score 1.73
Multitasking application benchmark score 2.53
3D performance (crysis) low settings 158fps
3D performance setting Low

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