Alienware’s Aurora R8 Evaluation: Previous-Faculty Model, Fashionable {Hardware}

"The Aurora R8 delivers brisk performance in Alienware's unique UFO-inspired design."

  • Many configurations available

  • Many ports for connectivity

  • The updatable design supports up to two graphics cards

  • LED accent lights tastefully made

  • Built-in handle for easy transportation

  • Plastic construction

  • Loud fan

  • Weird design

From its space ship-inspired appearance to its choice of high-end silicon, the Alienware Aurora R8 meets the needs of enthusiastic gamers. This gaming desktop is designed for high-end gamers – with a 9th generation Intel Core i9-9900K processor, dual Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics support, and plenty of memory – but also for casual gamers who love Alienware gamers – First designs can join thanks to a cheaper starting price of $ 899.

Enthusiasts who demand more performance than the basic configuration – an Intel Core i5-9400 processor, 8 GB RAM and AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics – will be pleased to know that Alienware offers numerous upgradeable configurations for this desktop. Unlike other boutique gaming PCs like Lynx from Digital Storm and Neuron from Origin PC, users with Alienware can only choose from internal upgrades, keeping the standard for case design in all builds of the R8.

More of the same

Aesthetically, the Aurora R8 maintains the same design that Alienware has used since the Aurora R5 2016. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the tower was built so players can easily access upgrades, the two-tone gunmetal and black bulb design shows alongside sleek, minimalist desktops like HP's Omen Obelisk or the Lynx or the Neuron. Alienware's attempts at a futuristic silhouette with its UFO-like Aurora R8 are somewhat flat; The sloping top and angled feet of the unit make this tower look more retro and maybe dated. Unlike many of today's R8's competitors, this gaming PC is primarily made of opaque plastic without a clear window made of tempered glass, a feature that quickly becomes standard on many gaming desktops.

Alienware Aurora R8Riley Young / Digital Trends

For the Origin PC Neuron and HP Omen Obelisk, for example, the glass window not only helps to present the technology inside, such as water cooling tubes and LED backlighting, but also increases visual interest. The R8 comes with a removable, metal-lined plastic plate. While we had no durability issues with the Aurora R8's choice of materials, we found that some bends in the plastic made this desktop feel less durable than competing all-metal cases.

At 18.6 x 14.2 x 8.4 inches, the Aurora R8 is about the size of most medium-sized gaming desktops. Given the R8's ability to hold up to two graphics cards, its closest competitors are the 18 x 18 x 8-inch Digital Storm Lynx and the highly customizable and compact Origin PC Neuron with 16.5 x 15.3 x 6.8 inches . And even though the R8 weighs 32 pounds, its plastic carry handle, which feels less solid than the cooler-inspired carry handle of Lenovo's Legion C730 Cube, helps transport this desktop to LAN parties.

The Aurora R8 offers space for up to two graphics cards and offers enormous performance potential.

If you are a fan of Alienware aesthetics or have invested in an Alienware display like the Alienware 34 Curved AW3418dw gaming monitor, the design of the Aurora R8 will not disappoint. As with the Alienware display, the Aurora R8's accents are minimal, including simple LED strips on the side panels that can be controlled by the Alien FX software. The beveled top and the angled feet make the UFO design by Alienware look retro rather than futuristic on a desk. If you prefer a more understated aesthetic, you may want to look elsewhere.

Built for the future

Like more powerful medium-sized towers on the market, the Alienware Aurora R8 offers space for up to two graphics cards and offers enormous performance potential for gamers – and creative people who are interested in the design of this PC. The Aurora R8 has room for enough storage drives and is a PC that can grow with you, provided the gaming forward design doesn't look old in a few years.

For cabin occupants who want to use the Aurora R8 as a workstation, a single screw together with a secure locking connection on a lifting tab on the back serves to protect the internal parts of the R8 from "RAM jackets" in your office. Though it gives a little security to the system's internals, the screw is a strange element since the R8 is likely to appeal to gamers rather than cabin occupants. As soon as the screw is loosened and some latches are switched to the unlocked position on the back of the device, the entire side wall can be removed.

Inside, you'll be greeted by a large metal bracket with the 850 W power supply. A picture shows that you can lift the bracket off the back of the Aurora so that it can be opened to expose the micro-ATX motherboard, graphics card, memory and RAM. Our review unit comes with two 16GB sticks of HyperX DDR4 RAM, and users can easily upgrade to 64GB of memory using the four DIMM slots on the motherboard.

Storage space shouldn't be a problem for digital boarders. Although our test device comes with a 512 GB NVMe solid-state drive and a 2 TB hard drive, the R8 comes with five storage bays. Given the open design when swinging out the PSU bracket, DIY upgrades are very easy. Although the cables are routed neatly, there is always a risk that the cable may be pinched or accidentally pinched when the bracket is closed.

Ports galore

Even though the design of this PC may not be what you want, a lack of connection shouldn't be a complaint to the Aurora R8. All configurations of this PC come with the same number of ports, so you can easily connect the main peripherals on the back and access to flash drives on the front.

Alienware Aurora R8

Alienware Aurora R8

The front ports are located near the top of the device, just above the glowing Alienware Alien Head logo, which doubles as a depressible power button. Here you will find connections for three USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, a microphone input and a headphone jack. However, Thunderbolt 3 is missing.

On the back you will find an SPDIF connector, an Ethernet socket, eight USB-A connectors, a single USB-C connector, a single USB 3.1 Type-A connector and audio jacks. There are also three DisplayPort connectors and an HDMI connector, as well as an additional USB-C connector on the Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card in our test device. Depending on the graphics card you selected, these connections may vary.

Chunky but not chunky

Our Aurora R8 test device comes with an Intel Core i7-9900K processor with eight cores from the 9th generation Intel processor family. The performance is high. If you are using the Aurora R8 for productivity tasks, you can upgrade to a configuration with a more powerful Intel Core i9-9900K processor. When configuring with a Core i7 silicon, there were no problems using the R8 for Adobe Creative Cloud or Microsoft Office 365 applications, and games load relatively quickly.

Although the processing power is not as high as on newer systems with Intel Core i9-9900K CPUs, the processor performance of the Aurora R8 is higher than that of the HP Omen Obelisk, which, given the latter system, which comes with an older Intel Core i7, is to be expected. 8700 processor. In our Geekbench 4 benchmark, the R8 scored 6,056 and 29,032 points in single and multi-core tests. This is not as high as the Origin Millennium values ​​of 6,357 or 34,309 because the system has a better CPU configuration. Interestingly, the R8 outperformed the Alienware's Area-51m in single-core performance of 5,848 points, but lagged behind the notebook's 32,164 multi-core result.

Most users are unlikely to notice any minor performance gains when upgrading to an Intel Core i9 processor on the Aurora R8. Instead, a better investment would be to use a Core i7 build and use your money to update RAM and memory.

In our video coding test, the Aurora R8 took 96 seconds to encode a 4K video using the handbrake software. This puts the R8's performance between Core i9-9900K systems like the Origin Millennium, which took 77 seconds to run, and older processors like the HP Omen Obelisk equipped with the Core i7-8700. Given that the Area 51m laptop comes with a stronger Intel Core i9-9900K processor, it's interesting that the R8's time wasn't too far from the 81 seconds that its sibling posted.

Although the SK Hynix SSD on the R8 is not the fastest SSD on a system we tested, the read and write values ​​of 1,801 Mbit / s and 1,365 Mbit / s are still sufficiently fast for most daily activities.

Double the graphic

Although the Aurora R8 is a pre-built gaming PC, it has a lot of graphics potential that you will envy gamers, including some of the best graphics cards you can buy. The Aurora R8 is one of the commercially available and more compact systems that can support up to two GPUs and is equipped with dual Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards. Our test device comes with a single GeForce RTX 2080 card without Ti. It is in the Origin PC Neuron company, although most users are unlikely to need or approach this GPU performance unless they use the system for design work.

The Aurora R8's single GeForce RTX 2080 card delivers solid performance for 1080p gaming, and even gamers with 2K ultra-wide 1440p monitors will appreciate this ray-tracing card. Compared to Underwriter Laboratories' 3D Mark Time Spy test, the RTX 2080 card still follows its more powerful RTX 2080 Ti siblings, but the results were better than other RTX 2070 systems we tested. The Aurora R8's score of 9,670 points in this test is about 1,000 points better than that of the RTX 2070 card on the Digital Storm Lynx, but this result is still more than 3,000 points behind the RTX 2080 Ti performance on the Corsair One Pro i180 .

In terms of gaming performance, the RTX 2080 card performed as expected and outperformed Nvidia's RTX 2070, while the more powerful RTX 2080 Ti cards lagged. With modern, less graphic intensive titles like Fortnite from Epic and Civilization VI from 2K Games, the RTX 2080 graphics of the Aurora R8 managed to stay above 60 frames per second (FPS) across all resolutions, even when the game details were set to Epic Mode in the former and Ultra mode in the latter. At 4K in Epic mode, the Aurora R8 only dropped to 61 FPS at 4K resolution in Epic mode. Players who prefer either an FHD display or an ultra-wide 2K display with 3440 x 1440 pixels have no problems, and even with 4K the RTX 2080 was more than able to process these titles.

More complex graphics rendering titles, such as Ubisoft's Assassins Creed Odyssey and EA Dices Battlefield V, have poorer frame rate performance at higher resolutions. Although Alienware is whisper-quiet on the Aurora R8, the fan noise becomes noticeable when the system is taxed. The fan emits a quiet hum when idling, and when the system is under full load, the fan sounds a bit louder than on competing systems such as Origin & # 39; s Neuron and Digital Storm & # 39; s Lynx. Players, designers, and those who rely on the system for GPU-heavy tasks should probably consider placing the R8 in a work area to minimize the distraction caused by the swirling fan.

In Battlefield V, our R8 test with RTX 2080 showed a noticeable drop in performance when the game was played in 4K resolution compared to more powerful RTX 2080 Ti systems such as the One Pro i180 from Corsair. In the 2K resolution, the game was played well above 60 FPS, but the frame rates have dropped somewhat, so Battlefield V appears a bit choppy in scenes with strong rendering at 1440p in Ultra mode despite an average frame rate of 94 FPS.

When ray tracing is enabled in Battlefield V, a little more detail was shown in the game. At 1080p and 1440p resolutions there was no loss of frame rates, but at 4K the RTX 2080 really showed its weakness. Players who play in 4K want to upgrade to the RTX 2080 Ti. However, if you mostly play at 1080p or 1440p, the RTX 2080 graphics in our R8 test device is more than sufficient.

Similarly, the RTX 2080 with the graphics-rich Assassins Creed Odyssey was able to deliver over 60 FPS results at resolutions of 1080p and 1440p, even when Ultra mode was activated. Stuttering was noticeable at 1440p Ultra, and frame rates dropped below 60 FPS at 4K resolution – to 39 FPS at 4K in Ultra mode. The gaming performance is comparable to other RTX 2080 systems. Overall, the graphics performance is somewhat weaker than comparable systems with better RTX 2080 Ti graphics, but still better than the Digital Storm Lynx equipped with RTX 2070.

guarantee

Although the Alienware Aurora R8 comes with a one-year standard parts and labor warranty with a generous free on-site repair policy, the system also benefits from Dell's PC experience. Alienware builds on Dell's extensive enterprise support packages and offers optional warranty packages that extend coverage through extras such as virus removal to five years. Users who prefer a standard warranty can optionally add accidental damage coverage. These optional coverage plans increase the cost of the Aurora R8 – Alienware's 5-year Premium Support Plus costs $ 749 – but the extended warranty can give you security.

Unlike Origin PC, which also offers an optional upgrade plan that allows you to get the market value of your PC components when you return them to the company, Alienware does not offer such a plan. In this case, enthusiastic players who want to update their graphics card in the future, for example, must either sell their existing cards themselves or bear the costs.

Our opinion

The Aurora R8 delivers the performance you need in a unique Alienware design. With eight different pre-built configurations, the Aurora R8 can be either an economical system for casual gamers or a worthwhile investment for avid gamers.

As mentioned earlier, our Intel Core i7-9700K and RTX 2080 configuration costs about $ 2,500 after discounts. Upgrades that give this system even more performance – like a better Core i9-9900K processor, dual RTX 2080 graphics, and faster RAM – will quickly raise costs to over $ 4,500.

Is there a better alternative?

The closest competitor to the Alienware Aurora R8 is the HP Omen Obelisk. Since we last tested the obelisk, HP has made some notable changes to the 2019 model that make it more competitive than the Aurora R8. Like the Aurora, this year's Omen Obelisk can be configured with the same 9th generation Intel processors, and the PC can be configured with up to an RTX 2080 graphics card. Although HP does not ship the Omen Obelisk with two graphics cards, it is supported by the tower. An omen obelisk configured similarly to our Aurora R8 tester would cost $ 3,223, making the Aurora a cheaper option.

Origin PC's Neuron is a great alternative if you want to make adjustments. The Neuron feels more modern with its all-metal construction and glass window design. The Neuron is as compact as it is powerful, making this gaming rig an excellent choice for gamers and designers who want to maximize desk space. Like the R8, the Neuron supports up to two graphics cards, but power users can expand the performance of this PC with an 18-core Intel Core i9-9980XE processor, making it a workstation replacement. While the Aurora R8 is equipped with dual RTX 2080 graphics, users have the option of using dual RTX 2080 Ti graphics on the Neuron. With a configuration similar to our R8 test device, the Origin PC costs more than $ 2,700.

How long it will take?

The Aurora R8 lasts for at least five years. The flexible case design – though made of opaque plastic – will help keep this gaming PC fresh years later, so you can do DIY upgrades in the future.

Should you buy it

Yes, the Alienware Aurora R8 is a solid gaming PC that does a great job for its price.

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