capsule review

Alienware Aurora Extreme

At a Glance
  • Alienware Aurora Extreme

Alienware Aurora Extreme
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Alienware's latest version of the Aurora Extreme has AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51 CPU. Sporting a 2.2-GHz version of the 64-bit processor and 1GB of RAM, this $3971 alien spaceship-inspired black tower ripped through our tests. It notched a PC WorldBench 4 score of 141, a hair below the fastest system we've tested to date, the ABS Awesome 6300.

This large PC boasts almost every high-end component you can think of. Its speedy BFG Asylum GeForce FX5950 Ultra graphics card with 256MB of RAM helped it score high frame rates in our graphics tests. Ports include six USB 2.0 (two located in the front) and two FireWire in the back. A card reader has several slots that support most major flash memory formats, including the newer XD-Picture Card. The system even offers an optical in/out jack for digital audio.

Large thumbscrews in the back of the case let you open the box without a screwdriver. Alienware also adds thoughtful touches for those users who might work inside the computer a lot, such as a screw holder and well-arranged cables. In fact, this Aurora Extreme is one of the most neatly arranged PCs we've seen. Cables are tucked into corners, creating open space that makes the tower appear bigger than it really is inside. Expansion options are good: The system has ten total drive bays, of which two front-panel bays and two internal bays remained open on our test system.

A black Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard not only matched the tower in color, but its responsiveness matched the machine's sprightly performance. The 17-inch NEC MultiSync 1760NX LCD monitor that Alienware chose to send with the Extreme displayed bright colors and sharp text.

Our high-end system came with Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 speakers, which alone retail for about $400. After a rather befuddling setup, you are rewarded with fantastic, rich sound with deep bass. The very heavy subwoofer is a pain to get out of the box, but if you want sensational audio, you won't be disappointed.

If you have the money to burn, the Aurora Extreme will give you speedy performance and top-notch components in return.

Roy Santos

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At a Glance
  • Alienware Aurora Extreme

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