Now with the latest Intel Sandy Bridge CPU, this bespoke behemoth is heavy in every sense of the word.
One of the best things about buying an Alienware system is the option to customise some of the hardware. In fact, while you can just buy one of the pre-configured machines, we highly recommend you upgrade various aspects. Our Aurora R3 review machine has an Intel Core i7-2600 CPU and while it’s pretty good, $41.80 extra gets you the K variant. This has a higher stock turbo boost speed and an unlocked multiplier. Considering the R3 has water cooling you can easily get a chunk of extra performance for not a lot of money.
While it does have 6GB of memory, unfortunately the R3 used slowish 1,333MHz DDR3 by default and the RAM upgrade prices are ridiculous - 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz will cost an extra $481.80. Likewise, you are better off upgrading the HHDs separately yourself. The included dual NVIDIA GTX 460s in SLI offer strong performance and the available upgrades are not worth the effort. There is also a whole range of little software and hardware upgrades to choose from, including options such as presetting the colour of the lights in your case.
Performance wise the R3 can hold its own in pretty much any situation. It scored a very high 28,698 in 3DMark Vantage and averaged a definitely respectable 117fps in Far Cry 2 with all settings on maximum. If you like tweaking things yourself the R3 has plenty of headroom for extra performance via overclocking. Of course all this power makes it fairly noisy, especially when the fans spin right up under heavy load.
The R3 case includes three USB ports up front (one of them USB 3.0) as well as audio I/O. Round the back you get another 7 USB ports, FireWire, Digital and analogue audio out plus dual DVI ports on the GPU. No Wi-Fi card is included but you do get a Gigabit Ethernet port. At 20kg the R3 is a very heavy machine so make sure you work out a little before trying to show it off to your mates at a LAN.
A one-year warranty in included in the price, as is the standard delivery charge. Available from Alienware, retailing for $3,560.APC rating: 7/10