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Alienware aurora r13 review

Alienware Aurora R13 Review: GeForce RTX 3090 Plug and Play King of Desktops

Looking to future-proof your gaming experience in the most over-the-top way possible? No budget at all? Allow us to introduce the Alienware Aurora R13 with 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900KF Alder Lake and a GeForce RTX3090 GPU.

It’s not every day a GeForce RTX3090 powered machine lands on the table at Man of Many HQ. With the capacity to offer 8K gaming at 60FPS and unmatched 3D rendering, it’s worth $4000 on its own – if you can find one. Hype aside, the flagship GPU has some big shoes to fill in the expectation department, but despite everything AMD has thrown at it, the RTX3090 continues to spoil any attempts to fell the king from the top of his castle.

High Point Low Point Verdict
The design with the new side window is gorgeous.  12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900KF Alder Lake is AMD competitive and exceeds it in many ways for the first time in years. 8K @ 60FPS capable! Pricey. Generates a lot of heat even under everyday use. Would like to see some premium materials used on the case. We liken it to the idea of building your own custom racecar or just buying a Porsche 911 GT3 – if you have the money, buy one.

Buy it here (Dell) Buy it here (PB Tech) Buy it here (Kogan)

Make no mistakes, this is an enthusiast gaming desktop at its core, but one look at the machine and you could probably work that one out yourself. Presenting a major facelift in the looks and power department for its late 2021 rebirth, the Aurora R13 is here to set the standard for plug and play systems once again. Built around a brand new 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900KF processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX3090 GPU, and a number of cooling and sound enhancements over its predecessor, the Aurora R13 isn’t here to play around. And neither is the price.

Sitting at the pointy end of the spectrum for all but the absent-minded gaming enthusiast (we fall into that category) the Aurora R13 is priced at AU$7,999. You can imagine the performance you’re getting for the price tag, but rest assured there are less expensive varieties inbound as we move throughout 2022. Let’s check it out.

Alienware aurora r13 rear black

Image: Dell

Design

The hardware itself is interesting, but the looks department really got the excitement juices flowing upon first glance at the Aurora R13. Redesigned and in our eyes greatly improved over the bland closed case of the 2019 model, the new model sees clear side panels, zoned RGB, and intricate internal branding make their way to the unit for the first time.

We absolutely love the way the Aurora R13 looks. It looks expensive – because it is – but unlike the previous generation, this one really feels and looks like it’s worth every penny in the eyes of a gaming enthusiast. Moving from the front of the machine you’ll find a clear panel with a honeycomb effect surrounded by customisable ring LED’s. The side of the machine features a gorgeous clear plastic window so you can see the details of your high-end components, and the rear has a magnetic clip-on housing to hide all your cables spilling out from the multitude of ports (14 in the rear alone). It’s worth noting that some boutique and custom setups at this price range will feature tempered glass, but the chassis rarely looks this good.

The interior is equally as stylish. All components are finished in black and are lit up by zoned LED logos that light up both the GeForce and Alienware logos at the top and bottom. The large central heatsink bears the Alienware logo and is also lit up in LED, as is the fan, and reflective structures. It’s not at the level of a hardline and liquid-cooled custom PC, but it’s a great match between style and flair suitable for the home-office environment.

Alienware aurora r13 white size

Image: Dell

Performance and Components

What’s on the Inside?

Peek through the window and you’ll find everything you paid for tucked neatly inside. Our review configuration is pretty much maxed out and while the Aurora R13 starts at $5500 with a GeForce RTX3080 and Intel Core i7, this one tips the scales from near as makes no difference – AU$8000. What you find inside makes it well worth the investment for power heavy enthusiasts, streamers, and workhorses who require nothing but the best at this price range.

Our unit is equipped with all-new 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900KF Alder Lake, the rebuttal to AMD’s Ryzen take over that seems to have lasted at least two generations of Intel and left enthusiasts confused at what on earth Intel was doing. Yes, they’ve managed to stay competitive when it comes to all-out gaming, but the productivity and creative aspects have fallen behind with weaker 10nm semiconductors as opposed to AMD’s 7nm offering. We don’t have enough word space to explain the differences in semiconductor technology here, but for all intents and purposes, you’re looking at a 16-core, 24-thread processor when it comes to the Alienware Aurora R13 – more than enough for work and play.

How Does it Work Day to Day?

It’s always rather hilarious when we plug in a high-end desktop and use it on a day to day basis when working from home. When not gaming, we’re working like everyone else, and our day consists of everything from load heavy word and website processing to photo editing on Adobe Photoshop (resizing, rotating, saving, masks, gradients, and filters), file transferring and video conferencing with quality peripherals that demand more power than your average laptop can muster.

It’s an understatement to say that the Aurora R13 doesn’t break a sweat when performing higher levels of productivity tasks we encounter on a day-to-day basis. In most circumstances, the machine almost begged to be put to use and we felt almost inadequate in its presence when spending 8-10 hours a day simply working.

Sound is something that can make or break using your high-end desktop, especially when working without a headset or music playing in the background. Fans designed to keep heavy-duty components cool during use are typically quite loud and obtrusive, and in the case of the Aurora R13, we’d say they just manage to squeeze under the ‘annoyance’ radar with a low-toned hum. It can get rather loud when processing photos, however, is no louder than your average USB desk fan. With a big fan comes a lot of heat, and we recommend leaving the study door open or you should expect some serious heat when gaming for long periods of time but that goes for most high-end machines.

What About Gaming and Graphics?

How pleasant it is to sit down at your desk and game without considering specs and performance. It’s even better when games you know and love look even more incredible than normal after being turned up to a high frame rate and resolution. The Aurora R13 will bring you to a point you’ll struggle to max out even the best gaming monitors.

We never traditionally venture into the role-playing open world stratosphere with games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, instead, we let our personal preferences ring true with the likes of Forza Horizon 5 and Car Mechanic Simulator (petrol-head, sorry). Regardless, we’ve never seen Forza Horizon 5 played at maxed-out settings (albeit, not 8K) and it’s truly spectacular. With framerates that sit head and shoulder above the competition – thanks to the GeForce RTX3090 GPU – we saw stable frame rates of around 100fps when asking for 144hz but don’t expect to combine high resolution with high frame rates in open-world racing games like this. You’re still going to balance 4K resolution with slightly lower frame rates as seen in our test, however, you can choose either way depending on the speed of the action.

Alienware aurora r13 front black and white

Image: Dell

Should You Buy the Alienware Aurora R13?

It’s always a tough balance between being overwhelmed with the performance of such a machine and that of considering the logical decision of spending AU$8000 on a desktop PC. Hardcore enthusiasts will likely prefer a full custom set-up that functions to their specific needs – and with options from boutique retailers becoming easier to access it’s an enticing option – but on the other hand, you can simply drop some serious cash on an 8K capable machine knowing full well it offers all you need and then some.

Equally, consider the new and attractive design and we think you’ll be more than happy playing games at maximum settings, VR’ing all night, and flexing your PC’s might if budget simply isn’t an option. It’s unique, powerful, and good looking… so pretty much all you really want from a high-end desktop. We liken it to the idea of building your own custom racecar or just buying a Porsche 911 GT3 – if you have the money, buy one.

Buy it here (Dell) Buy it here (PB Tech) Buy it here (Kogan)

Alienware aurora r13 white front

Image: Dell

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About the author

About the author
STAFF WRITER

Ben McKimm

Ben lives in Sydney, Australia. He has a Bachelor's Degree (Media, Technology and the Law) from Macquarie University (2020). Outside of his studies, he has spent the last decade heavily involved in the sneaker, automotive, technology and fashion world. Turning his passion and expertise into a Staff Writers role at Man of Many where he continues to write about everything that interests the modern man. Conducting car reviews on both the road and track, hands-on reviews of cutting-edge technology and employs a vast knowledge in the space of fashion and sneakers to his work. One day he hopes to own his own brand.