capsule review

Alienware Aurora 7500

At a Glance
  • Alienware Aurora 7500

    PCWorld Rating

    Very fast, expensive PC with two graphics cards will appeal to hard-core gamers and graphics pros with deep pockets.

Alienware Aurora 7500
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

Like most Alienware systems, the Aurora 7500 shows a lot of attention to its appearance. When viewed from the side, the shiny black plastic and red fluorescent backlights of this large tower case look like a cross between Darth Vader's helmet and an Easter Island statue. But image isn't everything: Alienware backs it up with first-rate hardware and blistering performance.

Equipped with a 2.8-GHz Athlon 64 FX-57 CPU, 1GB of DDR400 SDRAM, and two EVGA nVidia e-GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards that work as one using nVidia's SLI technology, the $4835 Aurora 7500 posted the second-fastest frame rate scores we've recorded on our Return to Castle Wolfenstein tests. It was the seventh-fastest system ever on our WorldBench 5 applications benchmark, too, with a score of 114.

Another performance comes from the two 250MB Hitachi hard drives, which are configured in a RAID 0 striped array. In case 500MB isn't enough storage space for you, the hard drive chassis has room for four more drives--though the Asus A8N-SLI motherboard supplies only four SATA connectors. The motherboard supports RAID levels 1, 0+1, and 5. The double-layer DVD+/-RW burner and the DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive connect to the motherboard's two PATA ports.

Still and moving images on the 19-inch Samsung SyncMaster 930BF LCD monitor looked crisp and realistic, and even small 6.8-point text was legible.

The Aurora 7500 is an upgrader's dream machine. After you remove two big thumbscrews, the cover pops off. Inside, every cable and wire is bundled and secured, permitting unencumbered access to the case's roomy interior. It's easy to reach the two open RAM sockets, one open PCI slot, and two open drive bays. The four free hard drive bays face outward and have removable rails, so drives slide in and out easily. Alienware has threaded extra screws for securing drives to the chassis.

On the downside, the two open PCI Express X1 slots are sandwiched between the two graphics cards, and the bridge connecting the cards hinders access to the slots. Also, for this price, we'd have liked to see a quick-release clamping mechanism instead of screws for securing the expansion cards.

The front of the case has spare look. Four USB ports line the bottom, and the DVD drives, an eight-in-one media-card reader, and the power button sit behind a lockable door. Four more USB ports, two FireWire ports, and something you don't often see--an external SATA connector--occupy the back.

The great-looking, shiny black Microsoft mouse is sculpted to fit very comfortably in the hand, but it's a bit too light for my taste. Likewise, the well-designed Microsoft keyboard--with numerous multimedia controls and shortcut buttons--is on the light side.

The user manual covers the basics of computer maintenance; however, it serves more as guide for the advanced user than as a tool for beginners.

This very fast, expensive PC with an SLI motherboard will appeal to hard-core gamers and graphics enthusiasts with deep pockets.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Very fast, expensive PC with two graphics cards will appeal to hard-core gamers and graphics pros with deep pockets.

    Pros

    • Fast PC
    • Easy to upgrade

    Cons

    • Open PCI Express X1 slots are blocked
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