The Bottom Line
- + Value
- - Proprietary motherboard
- - Proprietary power supply and connectors
- - Aging chassis with new plastic
- - Gigabit Ethernet
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction and Pricing
Earlier in the year, we took the Aurora R15 for a spin with a top-of-the-line SKU that featured an Intel Core i9 13900KF, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 paired with 32GB of DDR5 and solid storage featuring both a 1TB NVMe and 7200RPM spinner from Seagate. The R16 does not change this much, outside of the new chassis aesthetic, which opts for a more streamlined design compared to the R15.
That said, our build is outlined above; this time, we went with a more entry-level SKU that features the Intel Core i7 13700F, a 16-core offering that offers eight performance cores and eight efficiency cores. This is paired with 32GB of DDR5, 5600MHz modules in our machine. Graphics are supplied by NVIDIA, the GeForce RTX 4070 being the top-end model currently available. Storage for our machine includes dual 1TB NVMe solutions, which can be configured several ways with drives up to 4TB available from Dell.
Expansion includes a single PCIe slot, which is occupied by the graphics card. There is an M.2 Wi-Fi slot and two PCIe 4.0 NVMe slots for storage. Legacy devices, too, can be deployed with a prewired SATA tray. The rear I/O connectivity includes four USB 2.0, two of which support Smart Power. Additionally, there are two USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 3.2 Gen 2, and one Gen 2x2, both using the type-C connector. Networking includes a single RJ45 for the Killer E3100 Gigabit ethernet. You will also find an antenna connection for the Intel Killer AX1675.
The MSRP of the Alienware Aurora R16, as configured, comes in at $1799.99.
The R16, BIOS and Software
The System and BIOS
The Aurora R16 does away with the rather interesting "Alien" design of the R15 in favor of this more mainstream aesthetic. This includes the Alienware logo at the top, which is also the power button, along with several USB ports tucked away in the cutout.
The side panel on this model is plastic instead of tempered glass, and the large opening in the front of the chassis allows air to move through the chassis, along with being an RGB point for Alienware.
The rear I/O includes audio outputs at the top, followed by dual USB 2.0, USB 3.2 Gen 1 in blue, and both Gen 2 ports using Type-C. At the bottom, the RJ45 ethernet port and the WIFI antenna are mounted to the chassis.
Opening the side panel, we first note the open design, though that is quickly diminished by how ugly the internals are with aging blue plastics on all the modular pieces and the 12VHPWR adapter being used on the 4070 Ti. This is furthered when we dig further into the system below.
Continuing, the Aurora R16 does feature a good amount of storage expansion with two NVME slots. We also took note of the two DIMM design for the memory. That said, we have a proprietary motherboard with very little cooling for itself. The AIO itself is likely custom but does nothing for the aesthetics of the machine.
A closer look at the bottom half of the internals reveals the 12vHPWR adapter used on the 4070 Ti despite having a decent platinum-rated power supply. Adding to this, we have more of the ugly 1998 plastics being used alongside modular fan shrouds made for servers, not gaming PCs.
Alienware did do a rather nice job inside of the rear panel; all wires are tucked away very well.
Last, we have the system booted up above alongside an Alienware keyboard and mouse that work very well with the system's lighting.
The BIOS is quite simple, with the main page offering hardware information.
The advanced menu does offer some configuration, including RAID support, ReBAR, and CPU configuration.
Next, we have the security menu that includes TPM and firmware control options.
Boot settings can be seen above.
The software for the Aurora R16 is Alienware Command Center. As seen above, this includes a dashboard showing system resource usage with several preset modes.
The performance tab goes further into the presets for the system and allows for a custom setup for anyone wanting to tweak.
AlienFX allows you to configure the lighting of the system and any devices connected, like keyboards and mice.
Titles will allow you to manage your games from the app.
The system tab has a link to the Dolby app for the R16.
Cinebench, PCMark and AIDA64
Starting with R23, the R16 picked up 1764 single-core and 18825 multi-core.
Crossmark finished with an overall score of 1881, with Creativity being very strong at nearly 2300 points.
AIDA64 gave us 82K read, 77K write, and 75K copy. Latency was very high at 99.9ns.
Diving into PCMark, the R16 picked up a score of 12024.
UL Benchmarks and Charts
CPU Profile started just above 1000 points at 1091. Sixteen threads landed at 10293.
3DMark Time Spy finished at 21129, the CPU pulling 14K itself, good for 200+FPS in BFV.
Running through Speed Way, we have a score of 5503 for the R16.
Storage performance was not the best. We landed a score of 2624 with bandwidth at 453 MB/s.
Charts and Comparisons
Moving into our charts, the R16 lands just above the MG-1 we recently reviewed.
Crossmark overall charts have the R16 just below the XPS 8960.
PCMark charts have the R16 just above the MG-1 and a touch lower than the 8960.
Digging deeper with PCMark, the workloads show the R16 doing quite well with Digital Content and Gaming.
CPU Profile had the R16 once again a notch better than our MG-1 build.
Time Spy has the Aurora very close to the Y60 from iBuyPower.
Speed Way has the Aurora R16 beating the iBuyPower by just a few points and closing in on the Origin.
Storage was not very good with the R16, though it was better than the R15 tested earlier in the year.
Gaming did give us decent numbers from the R16. 208 FPS at 1080p High in Cyberpunk, while 1440p landed at 152 FPS.
Value and Final Thoughts
Despite all the miscues from Alienware, the R16 still holds a good amount of value for its performance. Considering this performance and its price, we found it to match the MG-1 at 100%.
Having tested the Alienware R15 at the beginning of the year, I really had no idea Dell was planning to take a step backward with the R16. I'll start first with the chassis because a large amount of the flaws in this machine come from the aging design that was clearly meant for servers with its modular fan shrouds and blue plastics, not gaming machines.
I'll speak for every gamer out there when I say, "gamers care what their machines look like". Dell, though, clearly cares only about the bottom line, consistently reusing the same metal chassis and dressing it up with new plastics. Last year's R15 was able to get past this because of its intriguing design, but the R16 doesn't. The plastics are much cheaper in appearance and feel, making them look like they were 3D printed in-house.
This extends even further to the proprietary motherboard, which doesn't even use any ATX standards that we see on traditional motherboards, which in turn pushes it to the power supply, which uses its own proprietary power connections. This isn't good for gamers who like to have control of their machine but instead would have to constantly depend on Dell to keep their machine running.
To add a bit of sunshine to this rather dark review, the R16 isn't all bad. Dell does use a legit Intel socket on the R16, so with any hope, this machine could be upgradable. And they also use standard DDR5 memory slots, so a capacity upgrade is likely something you could do as well.
Like I said above, it isn't all bad for the R16. It performs well enough to keep up with other machines with the same build components, like the XPS 8960 we tested earlier in the year or the iBuyPower Y60 we just tried. Pricing, too, is quite good for the Aurora R16. It beats the Maingear MG-1 Diamond by $500 and the iBuyPower Y60 with similar components by $400.