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  Alienware Aurora ALX System review

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Play Time

The system completely loaded up and was ready to go in less than a minute. Once the system is loaded, you are greeted with a black screen with the daunting Alienware logo. If you let the computer go into screen saver mode, you will notice that Alienware installed a terrific fish aquarium saver. The screen saver is a nice touch, and it received countless “where did you get that” questions from visitors. Because your system is built to spec, on the desktop you will find a file with a descriptive write up on your system. It includes in-depth specifications, and results from the in-house burn-in benchmarks.

   

   

The included keyboard and mouse were the Wireless Optical Desktop Elite from Microsoft, probably some of the best input devices I have used. Although I felt extremely comfortable with these under normal operation I have to admit it’s not the best choice from a gamers’ perspective. Alienware only gives the option to bundle its ALX systems with two different Microsoft combos, so no Logitech G7 mouse to go with the system, is a real shame. The keyboard has a ton of hot buttons, and good overall range. A nice soft leather hand pad adds a very comfortable place to rest your hand, and the overall feel of the keyboard is solid. Once I am done with this review, I will be ordering one for my main system.

The optional speaker components I received with the system are of top quality. They are made by Klipsch, and the option cost about an extra $300 or so. In the case of speakers you do have the option of choosing between flagship products from Klipsch, as well as Creative Labs and Logitech. The speakers we received are the ProMedia Ultra 5.1. The woofer is large, and sounds thunderous when you’re getting pounced on in Quake 4. The surround speakers are heavy, and very solid, but a little big for my taste. An external volume knob is a nice touch, and the sound is nothing less than spectacular. The connections are very high quality, and included wiring was sufficient for my placement.

As was to be expected, Windows XP felt extremely fast with this machine. The test unit came with the standard Windows. Windows Media Center basically adds a CD label maker, and audio converter, and a party mode to the mix. The party mode turns your computer into a jukebox, and is very easy to use. It’s basically windows media player, with a very simply user interface. A Nero suite was also included on this machine for creating and backing up CD/DVD media.

   

   

This is a computer built for gaming. From the time I loaded up Doom 3, to the time I played Halo, this machine churned out extremely smooth and detailed gameplay. Any resolution was acceptable, and anti-aliasing was handled with ease. Games loaded up quick, and played fast. The sound is spectacular, and the graphics are jaw-dropping. I played games on this machine for hours, without any hiccups courtesy of the speedy dual-core Athlon processor coupled with dual 7800 GTX videocards.

Removing the key-coded side panel reveals the internal guts of this mammoth beast of a computer. I’ve never seen such an attention to detail inside of a machine before. First glance reveals a machine built with superior quality. The steel frame of the tower is very solid, and card supports give your devices staying power like never before. The aluminum intercooler is the size of a laptop computer, with piping routed to the system and video card processors.

All connections are firm, and internal wiring is thick enough to carry amperage only a stereo system from Pimp My Ride can deliver. Final touches like tucked away harnesses, tie wraps, and braided cabling turn this earth pounding machine into a thing of beauty.

Warranty and Customer Support

Alienware offers a limited product warranty and return policy. There is a 30-day limited money back guarantee on all Alienware products. Hardware products come with the option for a 90-day, 1 year, 2-year, or 3-year limited product warranty with some exceptions. The warranty is measured from the date of delivery, and does not cover non-Alienware branded hardware such as monitors, speakers, and keyboards. If a covered product is proved to be defective, Alienware will either replace or repair the component, or replace it with a comparable product. The Aurora ALX reviewed here includes a 1-year warranty at no additional cost. The 2-year option will run you $200, and the three year option is $300.

Customer support is an important consideration of buying a branded product versus building your own machine. We tried using Alienware’s support more than once for testing purposes. They make support available through four different methods. The first involves an online knowledge base, which works quite well. It features an extensive list of categories, and an easy to use search engine. The second involves a live chat feature that works Mon-Fri, 10am-11pm. Third, you can email Alienware at ALXsupport@alienware.com or support@alienware.com for a non-ALX system. I emailed them about a setup question, but was never emailed in return.

The last method is calling (866) 287-6727 in the U.S., or (877) 259-3676 for ALX customers. I called the tech support on two different occasions, and it took me less than two minutes to contact a customer support agent. The support was good and is available 24 hours a day.



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