Alienware Aurora R6 review

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OUR VERDICT

The Alienware Aurora R6 is an excellent gaming PC that offers brilliant performance in a nicely-sized compact body. The price is pretty great as well, considering the power on offer.

FOR

  • Great design
  • Compact
  • Good price
  • Very good performance

AGAINST

  • Some may find design a bit too safe
  • Included mouse and keyboard aren’t great

Alienware has a reputation for building large, powerful, and expensive gaming machines, yet its Aurora range of gaming desktops boast compact designs and more affordable prices, while maintaining Alienware’s hard-won standing in the gaming community. The Alienware Aurora R6, which we review here, looks set to continue that tradition.

The Alienware Aurora R6 sits between Alienware’s Alpha range of affordable and compact PCs and the high-end Alienware Area 51 (we just reviewed the Threadripper Edition). While this puts the Aurora R6 in the mid-range of Alienware’s offerings, don’t be fooled into thinking this is simply a middle-of-the-road gaming machine.

It combines everything we’ve come to expect from Alienware’s devices, including powerful components and an eye-catching design.

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Price and availability

As is customary with Alienware gaming desktop PCs, the Aurora R6 comes in various configurations. The lowest-price version comes with a 7th-generation Intel Core i5-7400 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 560 GPU, and costs $799.99 (£849).

In Australia, the lowest specced Aurora R6 is slightly different, coming with an Intel Core i7-7700 processor, 8GB RAM and an Nivida GTX 1050Ti for AU$1,799.

Meanwhile, at the top of the range is a model with an Intel Core i7-7700K processor, 64GB of RAM and two GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards in SLI. This model is US-only, and costs $3,799.99.

The top-of-the-line Alienware Aurora R6 in the UK comes with 16GB of RAM and a GTX Titan X graphics card for £2,599. In Australia, the top-end Aurora R6 features virtually the same specs as the UK model, but with a GTX 1080 graphics card, for AU$2,999. All of those prices include delivery.

The version we got in for testing sits around the upper-middle of the range, and comes with an Intel Core i7-7700K CPU, 16GB RAM and GTX 1080 Ti. It’s available on the US Dell Store for $2,249.99 (around £1,700, AU$2,800). That exact configuration isn’t available in the UK or Australian Dell store, but we have contacted Dell to find out exact prices.

Not only is there a large range of configurations available, you can also upgrade and change components on the website before you buy, which gives you a huge amount of flexibility for creating an Aurora R6 PC that perfectly suits your needs and budget.

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Design

Think gaming desktop PCs – especially ones made by Alienware – are huge black monoliths that tower above you and dominate your desk? Think again – as the Aurora R6 comes in a specially-made mid-tower, which makes it pretty small as gaming desktops go, with a height of 472.52mm, depth of 360.5mm and width of 212mm.

The size is kept down thanks to what Alienware describes as its ‘zero-fat design’, which cleverly packs the components – including dual GPUs and water cooling if you go for those configurations – into a clever space- saving design that also ensures there’s plenty of airflow to keep the components cool. This is achieved by vents and intake fans on the front and right of the case, with an exhaust fan pushing hot air through vents situated on the top of the chassis.

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It also comes with a tool-less design, which should in theory make installing some components, such as graphics cards, easier when you want to upgrade. It’s a nice thought, and our quick peek into the insides of the Aurora R6 revealed a tightly-packed, yet still accessible, range of components.

The inside layout of the Alienware Aurora R6 is pretty unique, with the power supply mounted to a metal arm that swings out of the case, giving you room to add components. Other design considerations, such as placing the hard drives at the bottom of the case, are good ideas that helps the Aurora R6 maintain its small size.

At the front of the case are four USB 3.0 ports, with four more at the rear, along with six USB 2.0 ports and a USB-C port, which gives you a generous amount of connectivity. You also get an Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm jack and optical digital out for sound. The video outputs will vary depending on what graphics card comes with the model of Alienware Aurora R6 you buy.

While the case is rather restrained looks-wise compared to other gaming PCs it still features RGB LED lighting – a mainstay of gaming products these days, allowing you to choose the colors and patterns of lights in and around your PC.

Alienware’s AlienFX technology powers the LEDs, and it can be customized to react to in-game events, as well as showing solid colors or patterns. On the whole it’s a nice setup that adds an extra element of visual pizzazz without looking too garish, and the amount of customization thanks to the AlienFX software makes it easy to get the look you want.

Overall we were very impressed with the compact design of the Alienware Aurora R6, which manages to pack some very powerful components into a small and attractive package, while keeping everything running nice and cool. It also gives you scope to upgrade and replace components in the future.

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Keyboard and mouse

Unlike many other gaming desktops, the Alienware Aurora R6 comes with a keyboard and mouse included, so that’s two major components you don’t need to worry about purchasing separately – you just need a monitor. And if you already have a mouse and keyboard that you couldn’t game without… well, at least you’ll have some spares.

As far as mice and keyboards go, the ones included with the Aurora R6 do a solid job, although they can’t compete with mechanical keyboards and specially-designed gaming mice. Both are branded with the Alienware logo, so they look the part next to the desktop.

The huge range of Alienware Aurora R6 models, which can all be customized, means performance will vary depending on what specifications you choose. However, given the options available, there’s no doubt that whatever setup you go for you’re going to have a very good gaming experience.

The CPU in the Aurora R6 we tested was an Intel Core i7-7700K. This quad-core processor may seem quaint in a world of 16-core CPUs like the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, but it continues to be a truly excellent card – and it currently sits at the top of our best processors 2017 list. It’s an excellent chip for gaming, and it comes with plenty of overclocking prowess if you want to eke out that bit of extra power.

Our Alienware Aurora R6 also came with a GTX 1080 Ti, which for its part currently sits at the top of our best graphics cards of 2017 list. With this GPU installed the Aurora R6 will easily handle even the most demanding games at 1080p resolutions, and can even put in a good show at higher resolutions too, including 4K with a bit of tweaking.

Meanwhile, 16GB of RAM is plenty for a desktop that’s going to be used mainly for gaming.

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Benchmarks

In the gaming benchmark tests, the Aurora R6 did very well, achieving 28fps (frames per second) in the graphically-demanding Deus Ex: Mankind Divided test at ultra-settings, meaning you’ll get a playable experience with all the graphical bells and whistles.

However, if you tweak a few graphical settings here and there you’ll easily surpass 30fps and even 60fps; remember, the higher the frame rate, the smoother the gameplay.

Lowering the graphics to the lowest settings and re-running the benchmark showed just how much raw power this machine has, with it scoring a very impressive 117.7fps. It’s clear that if you use a mix of ultra and high settings, or even high and medium, you’ll get some amazing performance out of this machine.

We also ran the Total War: Warhammer benchmark. This is a game that traditionally stresses the CPU more than the GPU, so it’s a good way to measure the Intel Core i7-7700K’s performance – and sure enough our results show that the i7-7700K is still a fine CPU for gaming, with the Aurora R6 hitting 103.1fps at ultra settings.

We also got to play various games in our real-world tests, and the Alienware Aurora R6 handled everything we threw at it. It also continued to run cool and quiet – this is definitely a gaming PC you can put on your desk without worrying about noisy fans.

One thing though: after playing a number of games we swapped out the included keyboard for one of our trusted mechanical gaming keyboards. It’s nice that a keyboard is included for free, but the flat keys and their low travel left the keyboard feeling less tactile and responsive than we’d like.

We liked

The Alienware Aurora R6 has a very well thought-out design both inside and out. On the outside the machine has an impressive look, with RGB LED lighting, sharp corners, and grilles for airflow, and while it’s relatively compact compared to other gaming PCs it still has real presence.

On the inside, some canny design decisions ensure there’s a lot of power packed into the diminutive body. The price is also very reasonable for the quality of the machine you’re getting.

We didn’t like

There wasn’t much we didn’t like here. The keyboard and mouse that are included aren’t great, but it’s not a deal-breaker – they’re good enough to tide users who don’t already have dedicated gaming peripherals over until they buy better replacements.

The only other issue is that the wide range of Aurora R6 configurations available on the Dell website may be confusing and overwhelming to some.

Final verdict

Like the Alienware Aurora R5, the Aurora R6 is an excellent gaming desktop for people who don’t want to spend obscene amounts of money on a completely over-the-top rig. That’s not to say it’s cheap – it isn’t – but it does manage to hit the sweet spot in terms of balancing price and power.

The bespoke chassis it comes with is attractive and eye-catching without being too gaudy, and it’s compact enough to easily be placed on a desk, or even carried to LAN parties.

The flexibility Dell offers for customizing the specs of the Alienware Aurora R6 is impressive, if you don’t mind spending a bit of time researching the options. If you do, then you may find the process of buying an Aurora R6 more of a chore than with other gaming rigs that come in a single configuration (or at least very range of builds).

However, given Dell and Alienware’s well-earned reputations for build quality, and support and service if something goes wrong, the Alienware Aurora R6 is a fantastic gaming PC that’s future-proof for the next few years.

(techradar.com, https://goo.gl/a9sV2D)

 

 

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