Florida-based Alienware has been building its definitive PC and notebook solutions since 1996. After starting out with predominantly high performance gaming PCs, the company has broadened its range to all sorts of high-end offerings. These include systems for users demanding extra grunt, strict quality control and the ability to obtain the latest and greatest technology early.
Alienware has now launched an online retail presence in Australia and PC World has exclusively tested an Aurora 7500 system (priced here without monitor option).
A read-through of the Alienware Web site reveals that choice doesn't end once you've decided upon a configuration. Personalisation options include case colour (seven distinctive colours) and choice of internal cold cathode lights. You can also opt to have your uber-machine pre-tweaked for certain games such as Half Life 2. Even the supplied Windows XP can be personalised with the pre-installed AlienGUIse theme manager or custom wallpapers available from the Web site.
You won't need any tools to open the side panel of this extremely large and robust case, but you will need them when working amid its truly beautiful (just ask any geek) internal layout. All parts have been arranged meticulously and simply with wiring cable-tied and re-routed for maximum air efficiency. We were pleased that no proprietary components like specialised motherboard mounts or fan shrouds were used, which makes upgrading your Alienware investment that much easier down the track.
The Aurora 7500 is structured around an MSI K8N Diamond motherboard (based on the nForce 4 chipset) equipped with an AMD Athlon64 FX-55 processor, two DDR400 512MB Corsair memory modules, 240GB of storage space by way of a RAID 0 configuration of two 120GB Seagate SATA hard disks and a multiformat, dual-layer Sony DVD-burner. The DVD and 3.5in floppy disk drives hidden behind the closed hinged door match the black trim found on the rest of the case and Microsoft keyboard-mouse combination.
A 7.1-channel Audigy2 ZS sound card is supplied (ideal for gaming) and expandability is possible with three hard drive bays, two RAM slots and one PCI slot left free.
Most importantly, the Aurora 7500 also has some serious graphics grunt courtesy of two 128MB MSI NX6600GT graphics cards configured in an SLI setup that performed phenomenally. SYSMark 2001 returned a record result of 387 and 3DMark 2005 at 1024x768 with 4x antialiasing (AA) scored 6042. We also ran the same Doom 3 script (at 1280x1024 with AA) used to test graphic cards in our January issue and the Alienware rig blew away all before it with an average of 95fps.
We would like to see extra little touches such as a clip to secure the SLI bridge or even more attention paid to noise control, but all said and done you get what your deep pockets pay for.
In brief: An extremely well built, but pricey dream system with out-of-this-world performance. Alienware should also be offering water-cooled SLI models later this year. Price: $4699 Vendor: Alienware Phone: (08) 8352 1199 URL: www.alienwaresystems.com.au