Alienware refines the Aurora, updating this otherworldly gaming PC with better cooling, 13th Gen Intel, and an RTX 4090
Alienware Aurora R15 Gaming Desktop: Starting at $1399, $4588 as tested
The Alienware Aurora R15 is the culmination of both a thermal redesign and a silicon platform refresh, resulting in outstanding gaming performance.
Sleek, spacey design and aesthetic
Powerful PC gaming performance
Cool and quiet even under gaming load
13th Gen Intel Core series desktop performance
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 is a PC gaming beast
Competitive price for a pre-made one
Easy to maintain, mostly tool-free design
Proprietary power supply and motherboard
Limited DDR5-5200 memory speed
No Thunderbolt 4
Expensive as tested
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that Alienware’s Aurora systems have had their ups and downs in previous iterations, with noise and thermal performance weighing on an otherwise well-built, powerful PC gaming desktop. However, with this latest version of the Alienware Aurora R15, Dell’s gaming lineup not only has the machine’s thermal solution with a new, twice the size 240mm heat exchanger, but also a total of five 120mm intake and exhaust fans strengthened. Additionally, Dell has adopted Intel’s 13th Gen Core series processors with a Core i9-13900KF on our test bench, as well as NVIDIA’s powerful GeForce RTX 40 series, in this case a beefy GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card to pack a punch Pixel-pushing firepower.
In fact, Alienware claims that the Aurora R15 delivers up to 58% more performance to the CPU, with 19% more airflow and a 5C drop in temperatures, as well as much quieter operation on gaming and content creation workloads. You’ll also notice a perforated side panel, which is also specifically designed to increase airflow over the GPU.
All in all, we’re talking about a cooler, quieter and more powerful machine. Sounds like a win-win-win situation, right? Take a look at our quick hands-on video preview below, then we’ll delve into the intricacies of the design, configuration and build quality of this new gaming desktop, and of course run around our benchmark test track…
Alienware Aurora R15 features and specifications
Other standout specs include a 2TB NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD, 32GB of DDR5 5200MHz RAM, and a custom Intel Z790 chipset-based motherboard. The system’s performance could probably be improved somewhat with faster memory. Intel’s 13th Gen platform officially supports speeds of up to 5600MHz, but Alienware has to guarantee the systems to a much larger extent compared to boutique manufacturers, for example, and high-speed DDR5 can be more temperamental than previous generations. Also on board is a custom but hefty 1350W PSU that feeds this beast and its GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.
Under the hood: Genetics and design of the Alienware Aurora R15
Getting under the hood of this alien spacecraft is as easy as pulling a lever on the back of the machine and unclipping the perforated Plexiglas side panel…
This is the Alienware Aurora in its Lunar Light colorway, which has a beautiful satin white finish that contrasts well with the black accents on the front and side panels for an eye-catching yet understated appearance. Again, this is a largely tool-less design, and removing the machine’s side panel is as simple as pulling the latch you see above.
Once inside, we’re treated to a well-organized layout that’s far cleaner than previous-gen models, which relied on a swinging PSU cage that had to be pulled out of the way to access the motherboard area and other major components . Alienware’s custom 1350-watt power supply now sits in the bottom of the case in a more traditional configuration, although it’s proprietary and not something you could replace with a standard ATX power supply.
Regardless, that’s a minor gripe, as Alienware’s new platinum-certified power supplies, which range from 750W to 1350W, are top-of-the-line components. You can also see the 2.5-inch mass storage HDD drive bay down here, although you can also configure the system in a dual SSD setup with its free M.2 slot.
As you can see, the chassis configuration in general is now much more traditional, with enough space to accommodate the massive stance of a GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. The also has a 120mm fan and a fan shroud that directs the cooling air intake over the card itself. There’s cable routing that could use another clip to hold the GPU power connector together better, but you could easily tweak there yourself if you’re in neat-freak mode.
A tidier chassis with a significantly more powerful cooling system
Dropping down a little closer, we can see the new Alienware Aurora CPU cold plate and pump assembly, also adorned with cute RGB lighting, of course. This is a cleaner, more substantial water block compared to some previous generation designs, with Dell’s alien head logo glowing and peeking out through the Plexiglas.
Alienware’s OEM version of the GeForce RTX 4090 GPU is supported by a standoff and GPU retention bracket on the bottom of the case, which mounts to the edge of the PSU cage.
Pulling up the backlit Alienware logo lighting bar covering the new 240mm heat exchanger, we can see two more 120mm fans pushing warm air through the radiator and out through the top of the unit. Again, the Dell-Alienware team has walked the line of style and function with a sturdier CPU heat exchanger that’s beautifully illuminated in RGB goodness.
Then there’s the redesigned front bezel IO and body cover of the Alienware Aurora R15. This design has been around since at least the Aurora R13 series and features a perforated honeycomb insert that lets in a lot more cool air through the front of the case but also provides good structural rigidity. The IO on the back (top of this page) gives you a bunch of other USB-A and Type-C ports, but none of them come with Thunderbolt, which is a downside, and only up to 20Gbps support. There are also various USB-C and Type-A ports on the front, which max out at USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds (20Gbps) with Powershare.
Alienware also threw some peripherals into the fray with its 420K Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard and 720M Gaming Mouse, all of which coordinate the RGB lighting in Alienware’s Command Center software. The compact TKL keyboard ditches the number pad to save some desk space, but with Cherry MX Red keyswitches it has a satisfying linear, non-clicky jump.
Before we move on to the benchmarks, take a look at Alienware’s Command Center software, which has recently been overhauled and refined. It is a comprehensive suite of utilities for system health monitoring, lighting control, and performance optimization, including overclocking. In fact, our system ran perfectly stable on Alienware’s factory “Overclock 2” configuration, which squeezes a bit more juice into the CPU. As you can see above, it stays in a lukewarm range of mid 60C when gaming, so that’s it as we have tested the machine runs ahead in all of our benchmarks.
We’re definitely going to torture this alien beast with 100% CPU and GPU load, so benchmarking and stress testing next…