Let’s face it, Alienware has been and still is one of the premium brands out there and as weird as it sounds, their products tend to have a little sophisticated persona for the general consensus. They have PC as well, which we are no strangers to – their Aurora lineup is their flagship PC for the longest we could remember and following the R8 comes a new Gaming PC, the Aurora R9 – which Alienware Malaysia has graced us with a unit for us to review and take a closer look at it. How does it perform? Well, you are going to find that out in this review.
Look and Feel
Alienware has always stood out as a Gaming brand that aesthetically pleases everyone in the room, they take the looks of their PC very seriously and the Aurora R9 follows that. Alienware Malaysia asked us which variant we’d like to check out and we went for the Lunar White – which is a White casing with Black Accent. Right off the bat, it’s sexy AF. On the front, it has this Pill shaped design where the air Intake vents are hidden very subtle with the Alien Head, which is a power button in disguise along with the front I/O and an interesting RGB light. As for the rest of the body, it has this vent like shape, and it gets bigger as it goes back. The PC creates an illusion as if its small front but its one huge PC (a heavy one too). On one side, you’ll notice the subtle ALIENWARE text on the body which is RGB enabled with a decal on the body.
This is really how the Aurora R9 looks under normal lighting – and the RGB is only present on the front and the side. Pardon our sexy Glam product photoshoot.
Honestly, there’s nothing to feel – except for the fact on how heavy it is the moment you lift it outside the box, coming in at a whopping 17.8kg. Yep, that heavy – So, better place it at one spot and make sure you don’t have to move it around over and over again or get one of those wooden panels with wheels at the bottom and place the PC on top of that. Simple. I do miss the handle like top on the Aurora R8 which I think would have been a nice inclusion with the Aurora R9.
Specification and Upgradability
In terms of specification, you can choose from their 5 different variants (i.e.,) with a Core i5 Base variant + NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti and it goes all the way up to an i7 with GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER. Alienware sent us the decked-out version of the Aurora R9, so the specification are as follows:
- Intel Core i7-9700K, 9th Generation Processor
- 16GB DDR4 Dual Channel HyperX Fury RAM XMP at 2666MHz
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with 8GB GDDR6 (OC Ready)
- 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 1TB 7200RPM SATA Storage
- High-Performance CPU Liquid Cooling and 850W Power Supply
Let’s talk about the upgradability. Opening the PC is quite simple and easy – and anyone can do it (As long as you know what you are doing). On the back, it has two latches that unlocks to give access to the PC’s internal. You’ll notice that the power supply is smack right in the middle.
It has a swivel mechanism that lets you move it away to access the internals. This is a rather interesting design choice to keep everything occupied in a small space but this definitely brings up the question of upgradability down the line.
You may have noticed that we mentioned that the Aurora R9 uses HyperX Fury RAM, and you can fill two more RAM to get it up to 32GB.
The processor has an AIO Cooler attached with a 120mm Fan on the top for thermal management. It does seem like you can remove and replace but chances are, you might not have enough clearance to replace with a third party AIO cooler because of the tight space.
Another thing is – generally when it comes to PC that gets shipped, there’s a chance where the GPU gets disconnected. Alienware has a very thoughtful design where it has a special bracket that supports the RTX 2080 SUPER.
As for the other internals, you can replace or add or upgrade the storage, thanks to the extra storage bays at the bottom. Since the Motherboard is a proprietary one, chances of customizing the Wi-Fi card or anything else might put the PC into trouble. This brings to the conclusion that the upgradability is limited.
What matters the most at this point, is the performance. So, let’s dive in. For this benchmark, we went ahead and used the following tools to assess the performance:
- CrystalDiskMark (for SSD and HDD Speed Test)
- PCMARK 10 & 3DMARK (Courtesy to UL Benchmark for the License)
- Cinebench R20
- Games: Control (NVIDIA Ray Tracing and DLSS)
Starting off with the storage – the Aurora R9 comes with two storages: a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and a 1TB 7200RPM SATA HDD. We ran the speed tests for both the storage, and these were the results.
The SSD has a Sequential Read of 3481MB/s and Write of 2130MB/s, its extremely fast and the boot up times were impressive. Good thing is that it’s a 512GB SSD, which means you could throw in all your important applications and your favorite games on to the main storage for fast load speeds. Another good thing with the second HDD is that it’s a 7200RPM based HDD, while the speeds may not be close to an SSD or SSHD (which I personally think, Alienware could have opted in for), but the speeds are acceptable coming at 221MB/s for Read and 209MB/s for Write speeds.
On Cinebench R20, we ran to see how capable the CPU is – in this case, the Intel Core i7-9700K CPU. The processor managed to hit a score 473 points on single thread work and as for multithreaded work, the PC hit a score of 3377 points. During the benchmark, we noticed the thermals reached about 78-85 degrees easily and heard the fans kicked in to keep the temperature low.
In PCMARK 10, The Alienware Aurora R9 scored 8 487 points in the extended test whereas in the 3DMARK – we ran Time Spy and scored 10537, followed by Port Royal and scored 6 559. The configuration Alienware sent us over is capable of high-end AAA title gaming experience. Even if you were to use the PC for editing purposes, you are not going to have any issues overall. Although, the PC does have some thermal throttling issues where the temperature does reach a little toasty under room temperature.
As for gaming experience, we tried various titles like Jedi Fallen Order, Control and much more to see how good the gaming experience is. As you’d expect, its’ great. We played Control to try out the DLSS and Ray Tracing cores to see how much it impacts the performance. Truth be told – I doubt anyone would want to play games with RTX On because of the frame drops. But with DLSS 2.0 it does have a little difference, where when its toggled on, the frame Rate increases – take note, it only works on selected games as of right now.
When you talk about gaming PC, customization is key. That said, the Alienware Aurora R9 comes with Alienware Command Centre where you can tweak the PC as per your preference. Honestly, the application requires a lot of improvement because it isn’t stable enough. The FX allows you to customize the RGB, if you have Alienware Accessories, you can take full advantage of that. Finally, the Fusion allows you to overclock the RAM, CPU and GPU for intense performance – which is a 50/50 hit and miss. This department of the PC requires a lot of work.
The Aurora R9 is an impressive looking Gaming PC with looks that truly defines the brand name. Personally, the whole looks can make anyone happy – especially when it sits on the desk in a very majestic manner. But is the price tag for the following specification worth the penny and dime? Now, an almost RM 11k is a tough pill to swallow, especially when the PC Master Race community would go like “I can build a custom PC instead.”
But there is something the Aurora R9 offers which a custom PC falls behind – After sales support, 1 Year Premium Support and Onsite Service with Accidental Damage from the world’s best support team by Dell themselves. So, if you do want that hassle free experience and not be able to tinker too much and have a plug and play experience right out of the box, well, the Aurora R9 is a good call.
We at The Adventures of Vesper award the Alienware Aurora R9 for the design and performance.
Special thanks to Alienware Malaysia and Dell Malaysia for sending the Aurora R9 for review here at The Adventures of Vesper.