The all new Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen Edition epitomises everything that Alienware stands for; Alien inspired design, stellar performance and a NASA sized price. Just looking at the Aurora R14 inspires a confidence that you can do anything with this machine and indeed you can. Playing games in 4K60 with raytracing? Yep. Editing 4K video, check. 100 Chrome tabs for research, check, check, check!
Alienware has taken the Aurora foundation and greatly improved the design resulting in a much more capacious tower that has better thermal performance, good looks and for the first time ever, a tempered glass side panel so you can show off that rare animal called GeForce RTX 3080 to your less fortunate friends and family.
The new Aurora R14 start at $3,700 all the way up to $5,000 for my review unit although Dell.com at the time of writing this review has a 15% discount. Either way, that’s a humongous pile of money for anyone to dish out but should you do so, you will get a hell of a gaming and productivity machine that outscored anything I’ve reviewed to date.
Design and features
The most notable thing about the Aurora R14 is the visual refresh which makes it look all the more aggressive and powerful. Coming in an all black color way, it looks like the kind of computer Darth Vader would have in his meditation chamber — especially when you configure the plentiful AlienFX lighting to a glowing Sith red. The The new Legend 2.0 design is a step up from older Aurora’s and is still very distinctly an Aurora machine.
New changes include a sweeping tower design that turns the signature front oblong face slightly upwards giving it a very cool Alien ship ready to take off vibe. Plenty more AlienFX lighting zones enhance by the new tempered glass panel make for a truly spectacular light show. The back of the case also gets an optional cover to hide away all your ugly cables. It’s certainly one of the best looking OEM cases out there.
The changes aren’t all cosmetic though. The redesigned case boasts 50% more internal space for components and greater air flow. The pictures make it look smaller than it is because believe me, this is a huge beast that weighs 15.5Kgs and depending on whether you use the optional back cable cover, is almost half a meter deep and half a meter tall.
The front panel has also been redesigned to provide better airflow, greater RGB and more I/O ports including three USB 3.2 and one Type-C with Powershare. On the back of the Aurora 14 are far more I/O ports than you’ll likely ever need and the optional back cover can hide any cable management fails back there. Also returning is the Tool-less entry mechanism from previous models which gives you access to the internals with a pull of a lever. Well, it’s note entirely tool-less because you still need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the one retaining screw.
While I did like the new tempered glass panel, I have to say that the view wasn’t all that great. Alienware chose to use the most basic components that all lack any style or pizzaz making the whole interior look like some cheap computer from the last decade. The AIO cooler was a dull looking plastic, the motherboard looks like a no name Chinese board and the RAM sticks were pretty much green circuit boards. Yes, it’s nitpicking but if I’m paying $5000 for a PC with a tempered glass side panel, I expect RGB RAM sticks, fat motherboards with stylish heatsinks, custom cabling, RGB fans and more. Alienware can certainly do better.
Performance and thermals
My review unit came with the monstrous 12-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10GB, 32GB of 3200MHz XMP memory, a 512Gb NVMe M.2 PCIE SSD Boot drive and a 1TB 7200RPM mechanical disk drive. It goes without saying that performance is through the stratosphere and it puts to shame every other desktop I’ve reviewed on PowerUp!
To put things in context, I’ve compared the Aurora R14 against the older Aurora R11 that I reviewed last year and you can see from the charts how this newer beast performs. Suffice to say, for all your productivity and creative work flows like video editing, animation or rendering, the Aurora R14 is more than up to the task.
Likewise in gaming, the RTX 3080 with 10Gb of memory is perfect for 4K gaming at 60fps at the highest levels of fidelity. I played Halo Infinite on the Aurora R14 paired with the incredible MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD 4K monitor and was amazed at how easily the game ran at 4K ultra settings between 80-100fps. The same with Dying Light 2 running with ray-tracing to enhance the frightening ambience of zombie infested lands and the Aurora 14 beat it into submission averaging 100fps at max settings. It’s an incredible feeling to run any game at absolute highest settings and resolution without any concern for frame rates.
Additionally, the improved case design combined with liquid-cooling kept the Aurora 14 from actually lifting off like a rocket. I saw an odd max temp of 89C on the 5900X during intense CPU benchmarking but during gaming, it rarely hit 70C while the RTX 3080 stayed comfortably between 74-77C after hours of play. However, this cool performance comes at the cost of very loud fan noise. Good God!
It’s so noisy that I felt really guilty playing any games late at night for fear everyone would fail to sleep thanks to the raucous. I even used noise-cancelling headphones while gaming. My best efforts to optimise the fan curves in Command Center failed to register any difference. Alienware’s default to the max 2650rpms is much too aggressive and I wish Alienware could have used quieter fans as it really detracted from my overall enjoyment of gaming on it. YouTuber JustIN Tech Tips has a great video showing the huge difference fans make to the noise.
The new Aurora R14 improves on Alienware’s desktop family in every way. It’s big, beautiful and much more powerful to boot. And yes, it’s extremely pricey but between the brand premium and global PC parts shortages, this really can’t be helped. Moving down a notch to an AMD 5800X + RTX 3070 or 3060Ti would save you over $1000 and still give you hella performance though, so its worth considering.
That said, I am mightily impressed by the new Aurora R14 and while the fan noise is a pain, a change of fans would fix that easily. I really like this new design and I really do hope Alienware plans on making a small form factor version too. In the meantime, I will miss the sheer confidence of firing up any game in 4K and never turning anything down. As I said, that’s why you buy an Alienware.