The global shortage of PC parts has made buying a prebuilt gaming rig the only sure way to get the latest and greatest Nvidia RTX 30-series cards without paying the scalper-tax. The Alienware Aurora R11 is one of the few prebuilds I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending given their combination of design, build quality and gaming performance that really makes it feel truly alien. Well, that’s if you have deep pockets. The unit I have here is a water-cooled, 10th Gen Intel i9-10900F processor, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and the mythical 24GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090.
And it costs $8,000. Yeah. Needless to say, that’s an unholy amount of money but what you get is a machine that blasts its way through the heaviest professional and gaming workloads. Pair that with an excellent monitor like the Alienware AW3221DW near 4K Ultrawide monitor and you’re as close to gaming heaven as you can get.
Alienware Aurora R11 Gaming Desktop Review
With an 8-core, overclockable Intel i9 10900F paired with 32GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200Mhz and a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD system drive, slowdown isn’t a concept the R11 understands. Alienware included a custom water-cooling AIO which keeps the i9 running efficiently across the board. Under the heaviest sustained load, it topped out at 85C but during more normal scenarios like gaming and productivity work, it averaged low 70’s. There was never a scenario where the CPU throttled in my experience.
Similarly, the monstrous Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 with a whopping 24GB of memory handled everything I threw at it with laughable ease. This is a card designed for 8K gaming after all so my paltry 1600p in Ultra settings was just a joke to it. Synthetic benchmark scores in 3DMark TimeSpy, FireStrike and Port Royal were the highest damn scores I’ve seen. It doubled the Asus Strix GA15 graphics scores and as you can see from the charts, gaming performance is very impressive. All games were tested at the highest possible settings (including ray tracing) in 1080p, 1440p and 1600p. Just a note, both Control and Shadow of the Tomb Raider RTX scores were run without Nvidia DLSS otherwise they’d have been much higher as well.
For my money though, I’d go with an RTX 3080 that can net you pretty damn similar results in gaming while saving you a lot of cash. However, if you use your machine for heavy creativity work like video editing, animation and graphics design, the RTX 3090 with its 24GB of memory will offer so much grunt for real time workflows. Being able to preview 8K raw footage in Adobe Premiere Pro in real time as you work is essential for videographers and content creators.
Design is getting dated
I saved the design discussion for last because really, nothing much has changed on the outside since the Aurora debuted with the new Legend Industrial design a few years ago. You still get the same oblong tower that grows wider to the rear with the black shell on the front that houses the signature RGB ring. You can customize the lighting in the Alienware Command Center. Maybe I’m just obsessed with small form factor PC’s and I’d like to see the Aurora lose some weight, become leaner and more compact.
Our Luna White chassis pairs excellently with Alienware’s gaming monitors if color coordinating is important to you. The case employs a tool-less access design(which really isn’t because you still need a screwdriver to remove at least one major screw) that swings the PSU outward giving you easy access to the motherboard and components.
The whole shell is designed to maintain thermal integrity to allow for extreme performance. Thermal design includes quad 10mm copper heat pipes with integrated vapor chambers and a dual-axial fan design with positive rear pressure relief that allows heat to escape from specially located vents. This all resulted in a system that ran cool and quiet when I was gaming. Noise was pretty minimal too so if you stream or share space with someone else, you don’t have to worry about that.
The Aurora R11 also affords the latest and greatest in hardware compatibility including PCIe Gen 4, Thunderbolt USB Type-C and plenty of room for expansion thanks to its generous 38L chassis. I mean, it fits a BFGPU for God’s sake. A 1000w PSU is on hand to supply all the power high power components require. Ports come in plentiful supply too, with quick access ports on the front of the case – two USB-A, a USB-C and audio jacks which is really handy.
So, great build, insane performance, great thermal and noise performance – you should buy this right? Well, no, you can’t actually. Dell has since replaced the R11 with the newer, 11th Gen Intel powered R12. However, the pricing seems to have remained relatively similar across the generation which means you’ll still pay close to $8,000 for a configuration similar to ours.
In saying that, most gamers and content creators don’t need an RTX 3090 which is just far too pricey for the performance you get. Step things down to an RTX 3080 and you’ll still get pretty incredible performance for almost $2000 less! Besides that, Dell often has huge discounts and payment plans that can save you a ton of money while also giving you 3-year warranty and support. Eat that custom builds!
Overall, Alienware’s desktop line remains one of the best gaming prebuilds you can get right now. I do think its ripe for a redesign though as it’s starting to feel dated. However, given the continuing shortage of PC components, buying a prebuilt like the Aurora R11 remains one of the best options for anyone seeking a high-end gaming PC.
Alienware Australia loaned PowerUp! the Aurora R11 for the purpose of this review.