TweakTown’s Rating: 93%
The Bottom Line
Dell’s Alienware Aurora R15 desktop gaming PC is a beast, offering plenty of connectivity, a fantastic chassis, and performance to call home about.
- + Overall performance
- + Water cooled CPU (and not loud)
- + Upgradable
- + Tons of connectivity
- + Appearance and RGBs!!
- – Subpar NVMe SSD performance
- – No Thunderbolt 4/USB4
- – Doesn’tsupport DCT for VR
- – Costly
- – Limited overclocking options in BIOS
Should you buy it?
Introduction and Pricing
Having the XPS 8940 in house for testing just a few short months ago got our wheels spinning on the new Aurora R15 from the Alienware side of Dell. The new R15 looks to usher in new levels of performance for a pre-built gaming machine packing both 13th Gen Intel CPUs and NVIDIA’s monster RTX 4000 series graphics. We did not skimp for our review; we spec’d out a top-of-the-line system from Alienware that we will dive more into below.
VIEW GALLERY – 24 IMAGES
You will likely point out the price tag before anything on our sample of the Alienware Aurora R15, and like I said, while not maxed out, we went all out to see just how good the R15 could be. Spec’d out in the image above, our machine starts its life with a Z690 motherboard as the base, very similar to the R13. On top, we have the Core i9 13900KF CPU, a 24-core 32-thread part with a 5.8GHz peak boost. We have 32GB of DDR5; Dell allows you to choose between 4800 and 5200MHz memory to populate the two slots available.
Moving on, the GPU for this machine is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090, featuring 24GB of GDDR6X. Storage includes a 1TB mechanical disk for archival purposes and a 1TB NVMe solution. The Killer Networking Suite consists of the E3100G 2.5Gbe controller handling wired connections and the AX1675 for WiFi6e. The power supply is a 1350W unit that Alienware calls their “Dark Side of the Moon” model, and we have the Alienware AIO Liquid cooling solution for the CPU.
The MSRP for this gaming PC comes in at $4499.99 at the time of writing. Dell includes a one-year warranty along with available 24/7 support.
The Aurora R15, BIOS and Software
Packaging and BIOS
The Aurora R15 was delivered in a massive box, the system itself packed in dense foam. Unboxing, we have the tower and its unique design. Our model carries a white colorway, plenty of ventilation around the chassis, and a large side window to see your hardware.
The front of the unit has a smoked appearance, complete with the Alienware logo. Off to the right, you will find four USB 3.2 ports and a 3.5mm audio output.
On to the rear I/O, we have audio up top; this includes an optical output followed by eight USB ports split between Type-A and C. Last, we have the 2.5Gbe port and Wi-Fi antennas secured to the chassis.
Alienware manages the cable arrangement quite well. Starting at the top, we have the Alienware light bar, and moving down into the system, a custom Intel Z690 motherboard. Cooling is their very own Cryo AIO solution. Of course, we have the GPU taking up a bit of room in the center of the machine and below a pocket for both 3.5″ drives and the PSU.
A closer look shows solid VRMs, and all heatsinked – two memory slots to the right of the CPU along with two m.2 slots. Further right is the Key E Wi-Fi module.
The bottom half of the chassis is taken up by the GPU, the RTX 4090 in our sample, complete with a GPU bracket to eliminate sag and an air duct sitting in front to pull cool air from the front of the chassis to the card. The PSU is tucked away below, and the HDD cage sits to the right.
Above, the system is powered on and lit up with RGBs.
The BIOS is basic but does include mouse support. The main menu, seen above, gives information on the installed hardware.
The advanced menu includes options for core configuration along with HT and Speed Step. Further down, you will find support for Resizable bar support and SATA/NVMe operation mode.
Further into the Advanced menu, you will find very basic overclocking options, but it does include the ability to enable XMP.
Cinebench, Crossmark and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting with R23, as we always do, the 13900KF in this system was moving, giving us a 2144 single-thread score and 35380 multi-thread score.
CrossMark scored 2241, with creativity being the strongest workload at 2650 and responsiveness looking a bit low at 1869.
Above, we have the memory bench results for the R15. We picked the 5200MHz kit, providing a steady 79K read, 72K write, and 73K copy with a latency of 92.5ns.
3DMark, Blender and Gaming
PCMark gave us an overall score of 8777 for the R15 as configured. This includes a 11512 score in essentials, 8820 in productivity, and 18073 for DCC.
Getting into 3DMark, we first run through the CPU profile. The 13900KF offers a single thread score of 1198 and a max thread score of 14909.
Timespy scored a huge 30534, with the RTX 4090 just 10K under the world record for our config.
Speed Way scored 9834.
Running through the DLSS feature test, the RTX 4090 scored a base of 56.7 FPS and boosted to 171 FPS with DLSS turned on.
Hitting the storage benchmark is the first place we saw any weakness in the R15. We picked up a score of 2366 with a bandwidth of 406 MB/s.
Getting into gaming, we first have Cyberpunk 2077, high preset at 1440p. As you can see above, this system reached 179 FPS.
Moving to 4K, same settings, we see the R15 touch 143 FPS.
To address the elephant in the room… yes, you can build it cheaper. I think this has always been the case with many prebuilt machines, whether they are for gaming or productivity use, but those reverberating those words should know this machine isn’t intended for you.
That said, we did take a gander over at Newegg to see just what we could build a similar spec’d system for, and we came away about $600 cheaper than this reviewed R15. Of course, this will very much depend on the level of hardware you choose. If you go for top end across the board, you will likely overshoot what Alienware has here in front of us.
With that out of the way, I’ll start with the chassis, which is fantastic with a few side effects. First, the good, which includes a decently spacious chassis that can fit the monster GeForce RTX 4090, moves a ton of air through it, and the RGB is mesmerizing. On the flip side, I’m unsure why Alienware is reusing Dell’s toolless trays with baby blue tabs. And this continues in the shrouds marred by quite bad-looking blue clips; this can all be seen in our first image above with the side panel removed.
Further, while perfect for aesthetics, the Alienware light bar up top isn’t to be used for picking up or carrying the chassis, yet it is set up in the perfect place to be used for just that. Another letdown is a $4500 machine with almost the worst NVMe SSD solution you could put in a gaming machine. Perhaps Dell could get a bulk discount on a 980/990 Pro, SN850X, or even a Rocket 4 Plus G. Any of these drives could change the feel of this machine – and one more thing, give us the ability to manage memory timings in BIOS, please Dell.
On the performance overall, though, this machine is an absolute beast, and it should be since we spec’d it that way. If we had enough comparison units for testing, it would easily sit at the top or near every metric.
That said, this machine requires tons of cooling, and let’s be honest, it does, but Alienware has done it so efficiently that the fans hardly ever ramp up to 100%, and even then, the noise is moderate at best.