Alienware Aurora ALX Desktop
For our review sample Alienware kitted the system out with a four core (eight thread) D0 i7-920 CPU which runs at 2.66GHz. This was paired with 3 x 2GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 using timings of 9-9-9-24-2T and the GPU provided is an ATI Radeon 5870 1GB running at 850MHz core and 1200MHz memory.
All of these products have received high praise from us in past reviews so we were more than happy to see them used here.
There was nothing fancy on the optical drive front, just a standard 16x DVD writer but the default configuration of two hard drives in RAID 0 were present, though ours were 1tb models rather than 500GB (Seagate 32MB Cache, 7200RPM). The array was split into a few different partitions with the OS on one, recovery on another and a partition for quick access to support tools such as memory testing.
The more impressive options on the configuration webpages allow us to change CPU to a 950 or 975, install an X-FI Titanium and move to a dual 300GB VelociRaptor RAID 0 setup.
The Aurora ALX, infact all of the Alienware range are supplied with Windows 7. The default option for this model is Home Premium 64-bit and all updates certified by Alienware will be installed before shipping. Dell/Alienware seem to like MacAfee’s security suite and so it comes as no surprise that it was installed on our review sample (unfortunately). Thankfully the default option on the web configuration is "not-installed" so most users will have the option to use their own, less bloated and resource hungry alternative. We look forward to the day Alienware/Dell offer Avast or Microsoft Security essentials, both of which are free, highly reliable and offer a small resource footprint.
Also present are the usual selection of useful programs such as Flash player, Adobe Reader and Power DVD. Though the latter really should be Version 9 but Alienware continue to use V8.
Thermal Controls lets us view information from three temperature sensors, the CPU fan and control the speed of other fans. Another option allows us to control how far open the top vents are.
As always lighting is a big part of Alienware’s system and the FX screen allows us to configure the 8 lighting zones. Up to 25,600,000,000 lighting combinations can be set but what we haven’t mentioned yet is that there are another set of lights in the system which are a little different to the norm. Alienware call this Internal Theatre Lighting. Positioned around the inside of the chassis and around the back panel connectors are a selection of white LED’s which have a power source that is independent of the main PSU. These lights turn on under certain circumstances such as opening the case side. It’s an extra touch that is quite nice; probably the most impressive aspect of the lighting is that when you are unboxing the system you can see it glowing through the cloth bag.
Next is the Fusion software which allows us to select and configure power profiles for the system.
Finally there is the keyboard and mouse software which allow us to configure the devices to match our needs.
Aurora ALX BIOS
Alienware use an American Megatrends BIOS on the Aurora ALX and while it is not quite as configurable as most high end desktop boards there are still plenty of options available such as CPU and memory voltage. There is even a profile to enable factory configured overclocking.