Alienware Aurora R11: The Alienware Desktop Expands Its Horizons


Alienware Aurora R11: Best Review

The Alienware Aurora R11 gaming PC looks just like a winner on paper. The R11 helps you to select an up-to - date PC that suits your price range now, with a 10th generation Intel processor and a multitude of configuration choices, and then update later.

The newest beast of the Dell subsidiary comes in six key models, ranging from a base model (priced at $930) all the way to a top tier model that includes two (priced at $4,956) graphics cards. For two weeks, I tested the Alienware Aurora R11, assessing its architecture, functionality, gameplay, audio, performance of the network, software, upgradability, and cooling.

Is the Alienware Aurora R11 an investment that is worthwhile? Here's my analysis of it:

In addition to many other pieces of hardware, Dell released the Alienware Aurora R11 today. The Aurora R11 is Alienware's first PC to feature PCI-e liquid refrigeration graphics. It is available with up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 10900KF and up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER. If they prefer an AMD device, people may also opt to use AMD Radeon VII graphics.

Dell stresses that as compared to older instruments, the Aurora R11 decreases noise and temperature. Individuals will see up to a 19.5 percent reduction in temperature and a 69.2 percent reduction in noise.

The Alienware Aurora R11 also features 10th-generation processors from Intel, as well as the top Nvidia GeForce RTX and AMD Radeon RX GPU options (including RTX Super Cards from Nvidia 's desktop).

The Aurora R11 is optimised for "toolless updates," which makes it easy to slot in better internals. It has a huge optional 1000W power supply, and it has a number of upgradable configurations. To tweak efficiency, the scheme can also be overclocked. With its customisable AlienFX lighting zones on Alienware's Lunar Light models, people can also play around with the look of the Aurora R11.

It's time to switch back to the CPU now. At the time of this writing, the 16-core, 32-thread AMD Ryzen 9 3950X was just revealed, it's an absolute powerhouse. Even though it is pricey at $749, relative to the competition, it is a decent deal. The Aurora R10 used it, as you'll see below, to tear through our benchmark tests around the board.



Alienware Aurora R11 Design: A mature gaming rig



Alienware has redesigned its Aurora gaming desktop in the same style after a full overhaul of its laptop line this year. Thanks mainly to its Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and the brand-new AMD Ryzen 9 3950X processor, the Aurora R10 (starts at $799.99; $3,629.99 as tested), which comes in a Ryzen Edition version, is a performance beast as configured. In CPU-heavy tasks such as content development, the latter is virtually unparalleled but, although efficient, offers diminishing returns on gaming.

For those that will mainly be gaming on this desktop, we will suggest a less costly processor, and you have covered Alienware's vast array of configuration choices. We can happily recommend the Aurora R10, with its striking and efficient case design and powerful performance. Competitors such as the Maingear Vybe and the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 give similar advantages if you're not set on the look, though.



Alienware Aurora R11: Bold Sci-Fi Styling


I was captivated by its sci-fi-inspired style when I previewed the Aurora R10 earlier this year. I think it's safe to say that not everyone wants to sit in their living room or office with this desktop. But despite its bold appearance and probably divisive nature, I find the vibe it gives off appealing to me. Of course, the taste is subjective, but Alienware did a fine job nailing a futuristic, spaceship-like look that wouldn't be out of place in the Mass Effect setting.

The Lunar Light tone, which is the only colour scheme that Alienware provides with the vertical LED-lit Alienware text on the side, is our test model. It also comes in the colour of the Dark Side of the Moon, which is a deeper grey palette, fittingly. The front LED ring on both models can be personalised with 16.8 million colours, while the backlit text on the Lunar Light model can also be personalised.

Too many desktops look the same, or attempt an unnecessarily aggressive design, that it's good to see a special and particular graphical vision nailing a gaming desktop. It's obvious that, in terms of both engineering and visual design, some real thought went into it, something I wouldn't say for any gaming or power desktop I see these days. It suits the theme of the revamped laptop line from Alienware.

Establishing a seamless sleek look across the firm's PCs. (You'll see it, and you'll know it's Alienware.) I appreciate the effort and the vision again, even if it's not somebody's particular style (and it's definitely bold). If you want to see how the style has changed, check out our analysis of the very distinct 2016 Alienware Aurora R10.



Alienware Aurora R11 :An Interior Shockingly Thin



The Aurora R10 chassis is of moderate scale, and considering the strength inside, it might justify being bigger. It measures 18.9 by 8.8 by 17 inches ( HWD), so it's not too tall or deep, except in the front it's thinner except expanding backwards.

Indeed, "surprisingly thin" is how I would characterise the interior as a whole. As I said, the case is not exceptionally large, but very little of the entire case size is taken up by the internal compartment. On top and bottom of the chassis there are several inches of "empty" space which make it look like the components don't have to be packed so tightly. The top and side panels are used for ventilation, and the device operates very quietly, so maybe that free space is required.

Two separate frame colour choices are available for the Aurora R11: a lunar light chassis and a dark side of the moon chassis. The dark side of the chassis of the moon is all black, while white with a black front panel is the lunar light choice.

The RGB halo ring illuminates around the front panel when you are powering on the R11, and the Alienware icon lights up. The Alienware symbol doubles as the power button, and for specific games, you can tune its colour, adjust how it blinks, and build macros. For Destiny 2, I produced a fun blinking Macro, then quickly got distracted by it and got rid of it. However, when playing, you can set a macro to dim things down and amp it up other times.



Alienware Aurora R11 :A Comparison With Smaller Desktops



You can see smaller desktops in this price and power tier: I can define the HP Omen Obelisk as compact at 17.1 by 6.5 by 14.1 inches and the Corsair Obelisk One Pro is very small at 15 by 6.9 by 7.9 inches in footprint. There are also larger desktops with more conventional forms, including the previously mentioned Maingear Vybe and the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55.

By raising a rear lever, the left-side panel pulls away quickly, so no instruments are needed to get inside the shell. Alienware got a little creative with the internal ones with room semi-limited. We've previously seen this style, but the power supply is mounted on a swinging arm that locks in. It protects access to the motherboard and other parts when locked in, but unlocking two small rear switches helps you to swing the arm out and off the motherboard.

You'll get complete access to the other components with this completed. At the same time, the interior is impressive in material and underwhelming for viewing. The architecture of the arm is smart, and a lot of power is packed inside. But it's not much to look at, except out of the way with the metal power-supply arm.

There are some function-first heat spreaders in a dated-looking yellow-and-blue MicroATX motherboard, and practically no bells and whistles. (It is obviously fresh, however, to support cutting-edge components and features of the platform such as PCI Express 4.0 based on the X570 chipset) An Alienware-branded liquid cooler is mounted over the Processor, with a small 120 mm radiator connected to the top panel.For this CPU, that's a surprisingly small radiator, but it obviously works.



Alienware Aurora R11: Ports, Extras, Audio & Configurations



The ports, of which there are plenty, round out the physical construction. On the front panel, some are positioned vertically like three USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C port and headphone jacks. Peripherals hanging out the front of this front panel look a little dumb and mar the theme, so I would suggest plugging into the rear ports any peripherals that might stick around for a while. Six USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 ports and a USB Type-C port, as well as an Ethernet jack and an array of audio ins and outs are available.

The R11 has a range of audio source choices, including attaching ports to a microphone, headphones, and surround sound speakers. It also has a port for optical audio. No issue with finding an audio solution that fits your needs. The R11 does not have speakers in the box but has built-in 7.1 channel audio (with SPDIF port).

A brief note on the software side of the aforementioned Alienware Command Center, which was redesigned to be the standard control panel for all Alienware PC products a few years ago. It contains all the standard gaming features in one application, including game-specific profiles, lighting options, audio settings, part tuning, machine monitoring, and even a game library and launcher.



Alienware Aurora R11: Productivity



The Aurora R11 is designed to be a gaming PC, but you can use it entirely for work. You might also use it for picture or video editing, as this PC has sufficient processing power and gaming-grade graphics. A free keyboard and optical mouse are included in the R11, but you have to explicitly specify that you want those free choices. Otherwise you can just get the power cord and the tower.

The unit is very highly designed, but this should not be the case for your version. Alienware provides a wide variety of options, but our setup is $3,629.99, featuring the brand-new AMD Ryzen 9 3950X processor that's the show star (more on that later). Ports on this rig are galore. It has several USB ports, and USB-C ports are also available. PowerShare, which is a good feature for charging devices, has one of the front USB ports.

Lesser options for AMD processors start at $1,199.99, from the Ryzen 5 3500 to other Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, and Ryzen 9 options up to the CPU in our device. Intel versions, starting as low as $799.99, which is a different grade of desktop compared to our high-price SKU, are also sold by Alienware. Of course there are more powerful Intel chips than the starting Core i5 option, topping out at the i9-9900 K core.



Alienware Aurora R11 Testing Time: A Ryzen-Powered Performance Beast

There are plenty of possible competitor systems to choose from for performance test outcomes from head-to-head, but I had to decide on a batch. I chose a category representing a number of physical shapes, elements, and prices. The table below shows their components and names:


Two related options are the Maingear Vybe and Velocity Micro Raptor Z55, but the latter is configured higher. These reflect high-end, very traditionally formed PCs that, thanks to their Core i9-9900 K processor, can do both gaming and media tasks well. The HP Omen Obelisk also falls into this category but as designed, it is more lightweight and more expensive than both. 

The Corsair One Pro i180 finally comes in as the group's most expensive choice, and is easily the smallest. Its sky-high price of $4,999 owes much to its impressively small footprint, but it is included here as a rare device carrying the Intel Core i9-9920X Processor, and an even better rival than the Core i9-9900 K for the Aurora R10 chip.



Alienware Aurora R11: Productivity & Storage Tests



Next is the CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test from Maxon, which is entirely threaded to allow use of all processor cores and threads available. In order to make a complex image, Cinebench emphasises the CPU rather than the GPU. The result is a proprietary score showing the suitability of a PC for workloads that are processor-intensive.


Our Handbrake video-editing exercise, another difficult, threaded workout that is highly CPU-dependent and scales well with cores and threads, is also a good predictor for Cinebench. In it, as they transcode to a 1080p MP4 format a standard 12-minute clip of 4 K video (open source Blender demo movie Tears of Steel), we put a stopwatch on test systems. It's a timed test and improved on lower scores.


I reported that high-end processors on PCMark 10 appear to reach a limit, but the same is not true with these tests. This is where you'll first see the full potential of a processor coming through, using all of its cores and threads to churn as quickly as possible through the workload. The 3950X shatters the ceiling at Cinebench and cruises past the competition. This is very literally the highest result we've ever documented on this test, demonstrating this chip's raw strength. The other benchmarks do not display as much superiority, but it is still impressive and mighty. It posted the group's fastest Handbrake time, showing its video encoding aptitude, and a simple (though not the best) result on Photoshop. 

These findings should be music to the ears of content developers, engineers, animators, and other CPU-heavy workload professionals, but they also show why I was cautioning to select this chip for a gaming-only PC. These outcomes are incredible, yes, but if you're not going to do any of these tasks on your desktop, you don't need to spend money. Even the Core i9-9900 K is overkill for gaming, frankly, and you see how superior it is to the Ryzen 9 3950X. As you can see in the next tests, to some degree, the CPU only affects 3D-based work and gaming-they are far more dependent on your GPU.



Alienware Aurora R11: Synthetic Graphics Tests



UL's 3DMark test suite measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are benchmarks for DirectX 11, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, whereas Fire Strike is more challenging and made to strut their stuff for high-end PCs. The results are proprietary scores.

The graphics options are mainly Nvidia, ranging from GeForce GTX 1650 entry-level to GeForce RTX 2080 Ti dual cards, and everything in between. For AMD graphics, you can choose between a Radeon RX 5700, a Radeon 5700 XT or the seldom seen Radeon VII. Ram and storage choices are common for high-end desktops, with ram ranging from 8 GB to 64 GB and myriad combinations of SSD and hard drive capabilities up to 4 TB. In short, there are configurations, all set in the same tower, for any need and budget.

It is accompanied by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, 32 GB of memory and 1 TB NVMe M.2 SSD. The entry point price for an SKU using this new 16-core CPU is $2,349.99.You can flip the thermal profile of the PC between several presets (five options, ranging from quiet to full speed) and set overclock profiles to improve your graphics card, most useful for gaming. The Command Center is one of the better, if not the best, software packages for these built-in manufacturers.


Also we run a custom picture editing benchmark for Adobe Photoshop. We add a series of 10 complex philtres and effects to a regular JPEG test image using an early 2018 update of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop. We time each process, and the total execution time is added at the end. Here, lower times are better. 

The Photoshop test stresses the CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but most GPUs can also be used to speed up the philtre application process, so that devices with powerful graphics chips or cards can see a boost.


Another synthetic graphics test, this time by Unigine Corp., is next. The Superposition test, like 3DMark, makes and pans a complex 3D scenario, and tests how the device copes. In this case, for a second opinion on the machine's graphical prowess, it is rendered in the company's eponymous Unigine engine, providing a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark. 

The supremacy of the Aurora R10 on the CPU tests is starting to disappear here although the results are still very strong. As I said, your graphics card is much more essential for 3D tasks and the results are pretty close together with multiple systems running a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti here. That said, the Ryzen 9 3950X speed isn't gone and the Aurora R10 is still on or close to the top of the charts. These results kept the CPU tests to a similar pattern, but, oddly, the gaming tests showed something a little different.



Alienware Aurora R11 Gaming: Played Most Games On The Highest Settings


However, if you plan on only playing video games with this machine, in most situations, the Ryzen 9 3950X is simply overkill. As claimed by Alienware, this is the only OEM gaming desktop with 16-core Ryzen processors of the third generation. This is remarkable, but part of that might be that this is more of a chip for the workstation and not the perfect match for a laptop for gaming. Many of the less expensive options (particularly the Ryzen 7 3700X) will be more than enough for gaming, and when you choose this chip only for gaming, you will receive decreasing (if any) returns.

Alienware packed this review unit to impress, and it does, but I would suggest a less costly CPU if you are not going to use your gaming rig for gameplay streaming, media development, animation work, or other challenging technical tasks as well. For several more information , check out our complete analysis of the Ryzen 9 3950X and how it matches up against the other CPU options you can choose for the Aurora R10.


The above synthetic tests are useful for measuring general 3D aptitude, but it is difficult to beat full retail video games for assessing gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both state-of-the-art, high-fidelity titles with built-in benchmarks that demonstrate how a device performs real-world video games in different environments. 

These run on the maximum presets of graphics-quality (Ultra for Far Cry 5, Quite Strong for Rise of the Tomb Raider) at 1080p, 1440p, and 4 K resolutions to test the visual sweet spot and smooth output for a given device. In frames per second, the outcomes are also given. Far Cry 5 is based on DirectX 11 while it is possible to flip Rise of the Tomb Raider to DX12, which is what we are doing for the benchmark.


Simply put, in these studies, the Aurora R10 is not the unit to beat. It was outperformed by the Omen Obelisk and Raptor Z55 on Far Cry 5, and the latter topped the Rise of the Tomb Raider list. It comes down to either thermals or how the processor handles gaming, provided the GPU common to them. 

It could be linked to how airflow is managed by the Aurora chassis when it heats up when gaming, and it could be kept back by the motherboard. For the standalone Ryzen 9 3950X review (tested in a DIY testbed build), the frame rates reported were higher than those here, and the superior motherboard in the testbed can contribute to that.

Maybe the tiny single-fan radiator doesn't prevent the CPU from throttling as much as a bigger model (again, like the one in our testbed) could. Overall, the 3950X is a better chip than these but in all situations its advantages do not explicitly translate into higher frame rates. Intel may have the leg up here in gaming as it has for a while, but how these borderline workstation chips communicate with various games may be just that.



Alienware Aurora R11 Performance: An Absolute Powerhouse



The performance is still very good, separately from how this chip stakes up against these particular competitors. The frame rates of 1080p and 1440p go far beyond 60fps and are sufficient enough to exploit a high refresh rate monitor 's capabilities. These are AAA games, mostly often single-player games, so less visually challenging competitive multiplayer titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Dota 2, League of Legends, or Rainbow Six: Siege would see much higher frame rates.

While there is not a major cushion, this powerful PC is also capable of 60fps 4 K gaming. The fact that even this strong and expensive PC does not average much more than 60fps shows how challenging 4 K gaming is and I would really suggest that most gamers stay away from a 4 K display if you care about performance unless you have this calibre's rig.

PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites built by UL (formerly Futuremark) PC-benchmark specialists. The PCMark 10 test that we run simulates various workflows in real-world productivity and in content development. For office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet work, web browsing, and videoconferencing, we use it to evaluate the overall system efficiency. The test produces a proprietary numerical score; better is the higher numbers.

Meanwhile PCMark 8 has a Storage subtest which we use to measure the speed of the storage subsystem. A patented statistical score is also this score; higher numbers are better, again.



Alienware Aurora R11: Bold In Any Sense



On this test the Aurora R10 and its Ryzen 9 3950X immediately began to flex their muscles. As it doesn't drive them to the fullest, PCMark 10 appears to top out on super-powerful processors, but the 3950X is definitely in the top performance tier here. As you might have guessed, with a desktop of this quality, daily home and office activities are a breeze. Even PCMark 8 displays very fast storage, which leads to faster loading and boot times.

I probably wouldn't pay the price premium on this desktop in general, though, I was just going to use it for gaming. It's pricey, in part, because of the expense of the Ryzen 9 3950X and the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and the rivals come near or do better for less money in terms of frame rates.

More cash stops at a certain point , meaning more frames until you have the best available GPU, and the rivalry with the same GPU and less expensive chips matches the gaming efficiency of the Aurora R10. If you're trying to broadcast gaming consistently, or are a talented media-creation or extreme hobbyist, it's a different storey — the 3950X is incredible for such use cases. Save a few hundred dollars and select a less costly CPU if you're just going to play games.

There are no two ways to do it: our Alienware Aurora R10 rig is an absolute beast of results. Together the top-end GPU and the new AMD silicon allow for a blistering desktop gaming. The Ryzen 9 3950X is not really a gaming chip of ideal value, but it demonstrates what both the CPU and desktop can do for the purposes of this setup, and definitely gets the point across. I would say that most users go for gaming with the Ryzen 7 3700X, but the device we have is undeniably impressive.

As for the rest of the desktop, I admire the design chops of Alienware — and that they have been designed intentionally at all. There's not much to blame, ranging from a vast array of component choices to its moderate scale, adjustable lighting, relatively quiet fans, and effective interior setup. Comparing our super-high-end model with the configurations most shoppers would end up with is very difficult-it 's no surprise that ours is this quick at this price-but I like the desktop itself.

The Aurora R10 gives you that piece of conversation and premium feel if you want to make a point, even if you order it with more modest components. It doesn't grab quite an editor's pick, as there are some great boutique desktops that are stunning to look at and can match the output of the Aurora R10, but if you're drawn to the look, it comes with our recommendation.



Alienware Aurora R11: Price Is Not Bad



The Aurora R11 is available today and starts at $1,130. More accessible configurations starting at $880.0 will be available starting on May 28, 2020.

Your R11 's price can vary widely depending on how much you plan to put into it. Under a grand though you can get an Aurora R11 for. 

In the R11 configuration I tested retails for $1410, but it was $30 less because the lower tier chassis was featured in the test model (without RGB lighting in the word "Alienware" next to it). The prices are fair for the lower-tier versions, and you can upgrade the PC later on.

The rates are steep for the higher-tier models. The maximum R11 rate is costing just under five grand. Many individuals would be happier building their own rig for that amount.



Alienware Aurora R11 vs HP Omen Obelisk: A Small Comparison



With sharp lines and angles and a glass side panel, the HP Omen Obelisk has a clean design. This is very different from the oval-shaped jet engine design of the R11. The Obelisk comes in various models, with the lowest tier model being $900 (compared to the lowest tier Aurora R11). 

The lowest Obelisk tier includes the AMD Ryzen5 3500 Processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 (6 GB), while the lowest Aurora tier includes the 10th Intel i5 processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER 4 GB GDDR6 processor. In all of its configurations, the Aurora R11 has Intel 10th gen processors, and it provides the option for a much higher level device.




Alienware Aurora R11 Network: Need Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6?



The Dell Wireless DW1810 802.11ac Wireless (Wi-Fi, Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 5.0) Card is included in the R11. You can upgrade to the Killer AX1650 (2x2) 802.11ax Wireless Card for $20 added to the price, and get Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities.

The model I tested, without Wi-Fi 6, had the baseline Wi-Fi adapter but still performed extremely well. My Wi-Fi speed maxes at 400 Mbps in my house. According to Ookla, the R11 clocked a Wi-Fi speed of 320 Mbps.

As long as you have a decent router, the R11 will have a great gaming link. I sometimes have trouble in my home with 5 G networks, but this adapter was rock solid, and I was able to maintain a secure 5 G connexion. Of course, if you want, you can also opt to hardwire and mount an Ethernet cable.



Alienware Aurora R11: Bottom Line


With a 10th Gen Intel Core processor, optional liquid cooling, and dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards in the top level version, the Alienware Aurora R11 is an absolute beast.

It is possible to customise the visually striking Alienware Aurora R10 in a range of ways, but our Ryzen 9 3950X-equipped model is a performance beast. 
Actually, unless you are a true power user, we suggest ordering a more cost-effective configuration.


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