Alienware’s new 17 inch laptop is pretty great, but for two problems: its size and weight make it more of a desktop than anything else. When compared to desktops, it unfortunately falls short, especially when it comes to upgrades and performance. Alienware’s Aurora R5 is the answer to all of these issues.
Like Alienware’s laptops, the Aurora sports a matte gray finish with changeable neon highlights. Its case, roughly 18” x 14” x 8” in size, easily fit underneath my desk. While distinctively Alienware, it’s not overly flashy, unlike recently towers that feel the need to profess that they’re in da club.
Though options start at $1,599 AUD, the loan unit Stevivor tested came with all the bells and whistles — the $2,999 AUD unit features an i7 4.2GHz processor, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB GDDR5 RAM. More powerful than the new 17” laptop right out of the starting gate, this unit was , of course, 4K and virtual reality compatible. The same can’t be said for Aurora’s starting configuration, though.
The best thing about the Aurora is its tool-less upgradeability – perfect for PC noobs like myself – alongside a plentiful amount of ports. A couple latches hold the Aurora’s case in place, but when removed, you can see that similar locks hold items like graphics cards and power supplies in place. This modular system is far more appealing than graphics amps offered with Alienware’s laptop range.
Adding to the Aurora’s future-proofing are four USB 3.0 ports at the top of the tower, and six USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 port and a USB C port at the back. There are also three DisplayPorts, two S/PDIF digital out ports, 7.1 surround sound outputs and an HDMI port at the rear, making it quite easy to connect multiple monitors and pump out some incredible sound. The only addition that would make the Aurora utterly perfect would have been a Blu-ray player (and a 4K one at that) in place of the DVD-RW that’s in place.
Just like on the 17” laptop, I was able to crank titles like Battlefield 1 and Forza Horizon 3 up to ultra settings with ease. Forza had a spot of bother in the Outback centre, but we note that this was using the PC update that’s since been flagged as a bit faulty. The Aurora’s large, yet unintrusive casing kept things relatively quiet and cool as I played.
The bottom line is that the Aurora offers everything great about Alienware’s recent laptops, but in a form factor that makes sense. It’s got style and power, just begging to be placed in a position of pride in your setup. In fact, the only thing that brings the Aurora R5 down is that Alienware’s literally just announced a new version of the desktop scheduled for February 2017. Still, with a ridiculous easy upgrade system, this might be the perfect time to buy – you can always beef it up in the months, or years, to come.