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  Alienware Aurora ALX System review

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Reviewing products can be a privilege. Car reviewers get to drive new Ferrariís even before they are displayed in the showroom. Test pilots get to crank up the afterburners on the latest jet fighters, technology that most of us wonít hear about for another 10 years. Eatery reviewers have to opportunity to sample some of the best food on the planet, with no regards to price. Movie reviewers encounter films like the final Star Wars saga before us maniacs can fulfill our destiny. Vacation reviewers travel the world, as part of their occupation, and sip on exotic drinks while their feet become trenched in warm, Caribbean waters.

So, you ask, whatís so great about reviewing computer products? Luckily we also manage to get our hands on unreleased parts many times. But when it comes to whole systems, how about Alienware? Yes, I said Alienware. I was blessed with one of the most powerful gaming computers in the world. The Lamborghini of computers. A computer that was built with only one thing in mindÖ Doom 3. I guess you could fill that void with your personal favorite, visually stunning, performance-starving game, as this machine can drive it all. There is not a game on the shelves that can challenge such a work horse. Gone are the days of looking at minimum requirements. Gone are the days of turning off high quality graphical features. Gone are the days of turning your graphics card up by one more MHz to try and cram out that extra FPS in 3Dmark, so you can post your results online with some dignity. Gone are the days of connecting duct work from your window AC unit to thrust cold air onto your overclocked processor that is stable for about 20 minutes. Those days are gone!

The Alienware ALX system that has graced my home is a spectacular machine. From its intimidating look, to its stealth sound, this computer has everything. Picture yourself online at Newegg.com, with an unlimited budget. This is probably similar to the computer you would want to build. This is the computer that you would want to buy. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read. Hopefully you have enough equity in your home to buy one once youíre done.

Some Company background

Alienware is a PC company which specializes in custom made, high performance machines. Founded in 1996 by avid gamers, Alienware currently inhabits offices in Miami and Washington D.C. Alienware is a privately owned company, wholly owned by its founder and employees. Currently, they offer computers for a wide range of applications, from desktop to Media Center PCs, and performance gaming laptops. The company started on the premise that it builds the most powerful gaming machines in the world, and still stands by it.

Inside the box, Setup and Installation

Alienware made sure we received their flagship Aurora ALX system for review, as you will see below an indeed very, very powerful system. Now, because we take no less than a month to review any kind of product, certain parts you can choose to build your system could have been changed slightly, or new ones added, for example you can currently pick a Creative X-Fi instead of the Audigy 2 ZS our system came equipped with.

   

Here are the system specifications for the Aurora system we received:

Processor AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (2.41GHz)
Memory 2x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR550 2.5-4-4-8
Bios Phoenix Award v6.00
Motherboard ASUSTek A8N-SLI Deluxe
Video Adapter 1 NVIDIA Geforce 7800 GTX 256MB
Video Adapter 2 NVIDIA Geforce 7800 GTX 256MB
Hard Drives 2 x 250GB Hitachi Deskstar SATA-II 7,200 RPM
Optical Drive 1 Lite-On CD-RW SOHR-5239s
Optical Drive 2 NEC DVD-RW ND-3520A
Soundcard Creative Audigy 2 ZS 7.1
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Media Center
Cooling Astral Blue Video cooling system
Cooling ALX Processor liquid cooling w/aluminum intercooler
PSU PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 ATX
Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 930bf
(not included with system, used for testing)

Setting up the Alienware system is a bit of a chore. You will need a strong pair of arms and legs, or at least a friend, in order to even carry it around the house. The boxes are enormous (something we just couldnít overlook, see the pics below), and the system itself is very heavy. Inside, the boxes are very organized, and the components are well protected by custom foam surrounds.

   

   

The setup instructions are adequate, but not very descriptive. Because the system is customized, the included instructions are generic, and do not pertain to your actual system. An example would be that the system I set up has two soundcards (Creative Audigy, plus the one built-in), and two sets of inputs and outputs on the rear of the system, the instructions completely overlooked this kind of thing. The average computer user may find some difficulty to completely setup the system, but how many average users are going to buy a system of this caliber? Good news is that there is a toll-free number you can call that will assist you in the setup procedure.

Included with the computer are all the cords and connectors you should need. The only one that was missing was a RJ45 cable for your network. For the money, I would have liked to see this cable included. It doesnít make much sense to include the amount of items they bundled with the system without a simple RJ45 cable. Alienware was also kind enough to include a black Alienware ALX t-shirt, along with a gaming mouse pad.

From my perspective, this system needs to be installed on the floor, either next to or under your desk, unless itís made of ĺ inch plywood, with beams set up every 6 inches apart. The unit is heavy, and the outside dimensions are big. The case is 2 feet high and almost 2 feet long. In use terms this means that although the system looks really good you wonít be able to move it around too much, definitely not made for carrying to a LAN party.

Play Time

Everything ready to go, it was about time we let the system run. The power button is located behind a silver, push button panel. Once depressed, the system begins to breath. There is a temperature gauge built into the case above the drives which also contains a switch to control the internal fans. There are three exhaust fans, and you can choose which operate at any given time by depressing a button next to the temperature display. During normal use, I found the temperature to ride around 90 degrees with all three fans running. When only one fan is on, the temps ride around 98 degrees or so. Obviously, this will change depending on the environment the computer is in, and what you are asking to computer to do. With only 1 fan enabled, the system is very quiet. You can barely tell the thing is even on. Obviously, the more fans you add, the louder it gets. When all three are on, you can defiantly hear it hum, but itís still not too bad. I wouldnít be happy if it was this loud at all times, but thankfully, you can turn them off.

   

The case has a few lights which illuminate when the computer is turned on. On top of the case there are blue lights, illuminating through the fans. The side of the case has green lights, as does the front alien emblem. The iridescent green lights glimmer past the bottom gills of the case, which look very shark like, and almost giving it the appearance that itís hovering above the floor when dark. I personally donít mind the lights, but I think it would look slicker if they were all the same color. It almost looks like a cheap Christmas tree at night because of all the different colors.

(System impressions continued on next page...)



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