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To be honest, the majority of folks can no longer afford to build their own gaming PCs with the current shortage of components required to DIY, and that’s what makes boutique prebuilts like the Alienware Aurora R13 so great. For some reason, Alienware’s prices have remained steady over the past year and that means more people than ever are looking at this gaming rig and its AMD-powered stablemate the Alienware Aurora R14 to see if they’re reasonable alternatives to building a gaming PC, and it is – but it doesn’t come cheap.
This new gaming tower from Alienware does arrive with some design improvements, especially that redefined chassis (the Legend 2.0), and even includes a glass side panel that’s been missing from Dell’s premium gaming PCs for years now. However, some areas need to be polished on this rig to achieve an excellent mainstream gaming and productivity device.
Particularly, the CPU cooler. Like all other Alienwares released this year, the Aurora R13 uses the latest Intel 12-th generation Intel processors, and our review unit (AWAUR13-7726WHT-PUS) is using the Core i7-12700KF. This is a power-sipping chip that releases a lot of heat when it’s put under load, but Alienware only decided to equip it with a 120mm AIO liquid cooler. While that may sound enough for maybe a current Core i7 processor, it doesn’t suffice for a thirsty process as Intel’s flagship.
With that in mind, the Alienware Aurora R13 doesn’t make the cut for gamers that also want to use the PC as a workstation. That’s simply because you’ll likely run into issues with thermal throttling the moment you try to load any heavy video editing or rendering on this PC.
But because the core use of the Alienware Aurora R13 is PC gaming and less of creative work, this is less of a big issue than it may be with other machines designed purposely for creative workloads. You’re not going to max out a Core i7-12700KF in Call of Duty match, after all. If you’re buying the Aurora R13 for PC gaming, this is one fine PC.
Alienware Aurora R13 Specs
- Processor: Intel Core i7-12700KF
- RAM: 16 GB
- Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
- Storage: 1 TB SSD, 1 TB HDD
- Accessories: None
- Ports: USB-A, USB-C, 3.5 mm audio, Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI
- Size: 20.8 x 20.1 x 8.86 inches
- Weight: 27.1 – 34.2 pounds (depending on config)
Alienware Aurora R13 Review: Design
In terms of aesthetics and styling, it’s either you like the new Legend 2.0 design or you don’t. I think it’s a bold move over the boxier styling of the Aurora R11 we reviewed a couple of years ago. The new design takes the familiar tubular case of earlier Aurora gaming desktops and leans it back a bit; the result is a more angled oval face with a backward slope.
The redesigned case measures roughly 23.2 x 8.86 x 20.1 inches and weighs 34.2 pounds, but it can weigh less depending on how you configure it. This makes the Aurora R13 a smidge lighter than some previous Alienware gaming PCs such as the Alienware Aurora R11 which weighed 39 pounds in the old Legend chassis.
On the inside, the R13 features a tasteful amount of customizable RGB lighting, including a lightbar and another light at the back that you can see spinning through the grille on the front of the case. It looks gorgeous without being over the roof, much like the Aurora R13 itself.
The Aurora case, once again, has the motherboard and other components angled upward, while the GPU is anchored down with both a plastic bracket on the side and a metal support arm holding up the end of the card. If you often take your desktop with you to LAN parties or just use it in college, this will take damage due to the weight of the graphics card much likely.
CPU cooling is another area that needs a design upgrade, too. Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs, especially the high-end ones, are notoriously tough o coolers, and it’s expected that their Raptor Lake replacements will be even more unforgiving in that regard. And AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs appear to be similarly thermally punishing. But the current Aurora cooler tops out with the 120mm AIO, and that won’t change without a case redesign because there’s simply no place for a larger radiator in the current chassis.
Alienware Aurora R13 Review: Ports
As expected of any top-tier gaming machine, connectivity options on the Alienware are pretty robust and should not give you any hiccups when you need to hook up your favorite gaming gear.
On the front, there’s a headphone jack and a vertical array of USB-C ports: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 with PowerShare, and another USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with PowerShare. This means the ports still deliver power to connected devices, even when the PC is switched off.
On the rear, you get a plethora of ports including four classic USB A 2.0 ports as well as two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports. There are also two additional USB-C ports with varying max speeds: a 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and a 20Gbps USB 3.2 3 X2.
Additionally, there are audio jacks that are meant for setting up a surround sound system for your rig. That includes rear, side, and center/subwoofer output ports, as well as a line in and line out, a microphone in, and two SPDIF digital outputs: one for coax cables and the other for Toslink cables.
For Internet connectivity, the R13 gets an RJ-45 Killer E3100, which is pretty good for connected online gaming.
Our review model of the Alienware Aurora R13 runs Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with 8GB GDDR6 graphics card, and that should be powerful enough to drive most AAA titles at high settings. For as long as you keep everything at sub-4K resolutions, everything should run fine – you can drive anything from Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding, Total War: Warhammer II, and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous in 1080 at buttery smooth framerates, with all graphics settings maxed out.
However, when you crank up the resolution of those games up to 4K, performance drops below 60 fps in some games, something you won’t experience with the RTX 3080 Ti at even 4K. Particularly, Cyberpunk seems to be the biggest offender on almost all RTX 3070 Ti PCs we’ve reviewed recently, it often dips to below 20 fps while playing in 4K with all settings maxed.
At 1080p and settings maxed out, our review unit doesn’t have any trouble delivering impressive performance. However, when you crank up the resolution up to 4K, it begins to struggle to achieve rock-solid 60 fps in games such as Grand Theft Auto V and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
While the R13 is a great gaming PC for playing almost anything at 1080p or even 1440p, you’ll need to invest in a much beefier rig if you want to play the latest and greatest in 4K. If you don’t mind spending more for the absolute 4K gaming beasts, the Asus ROG Strix GA35 with an RTX 3090 GPU or the compact CORSAIR ONE PRO a200 are fantastic choices.
Away from gaming, this iteration of the Alienware Aurora R13 packs powerful components that give it more than enough muscle to handle pretty much any work thrown at it. We’re talking of a 12th Gen Intel Core i-12700KF processor, 16GB DDR5 RAM 1TB SSD + 1TB HDD storage; all solid specs for true high-end machines.
Out of the box, the R13 is quick to start up, runs quietly during daily use, and is more than capable of handling all the Chrome tabs, YouTube videos, and other apps you may want to open in the background while playing games. The Alienware’s SSD storage is quite fast as well, which is great when you’re moving game installs around. It transfers 25GB of multimedia files at speeds of 1,894 MBps, which is pretty fast, outperforming machines like the Predator Orion 3000 (739MBps), but the Corsair One i300 tops out with 3,006 MBps.
The Aurora 13 should be sufficient for photo/video editing, although it can’t quite match the performance of more expensive rigs such as the Skytech Prism II with the flagship Intel Core i9-1200K processor and Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti GPU.
Our review unit arrives with a clean install of Windows 11 Home and a few Dell/Alienware software installed. The most useful one is the Alienware Command Center which you can use to customize a horde of settings. You can create custom RGB lighting patterns, manage your GPU overclock settings, modify cooling fan performance and adjust your audio settings among others.
Should you buy the Alienware Aurora R13?
Yes, I particularly like the new Legend 2.0 chassis that emphasizes Alienware’s core business of building you a PC with the specific components you want. After reviewing several other machines with similar features, I can say the Aurora R13’s new aesthetic is a winner.
The redesigned chassis is easy to access, for the first time you have a transparent glass side panel on an Aurora gaming PC after several years, and it has enough ventilation to keep things cool even after gaming in 4K it doesn’t get overly hot. Weighing around 35 pounds makes the computer a bit hefty to move around, but if you’ll be using it at your desk, the space-age design and customizable RGB lighting will surely turn heads.
If you have the money, Alienware can fill the Aurora R13 with top-of-the-line components that make it a top-tier gaming PC. Luckily, all those configurations are even available at purchase, so you don’t have to wait in line for the assembly. As priced, our review unit is far from cheap (so are other similarly specced PCs), but it’s powerful enough to play the latest and greatest games for years to come. Just don’t expect blazing-fast 4K gameplay at high settings.
If you must play at 4K, expect to spend hundreds (if not thousands) more for beefier – say, a Core i9 CPU and a GeForce RTX 3090, in the alternatives we mentioned above. And, if you don’t like the Aurora 13’s design or need something powerful but compact, the MSI Trident X or Corsair One i300 are solid alternatives.
That said, if I had a few thousand dollars to splurge on a new gaming PC this year, the Alienware Aurora R13 could be at the top of my list. With a sexy new design and as much muscle as you can afford, it’s one of the best gaming PCs I’ve reviewed this year.
Alienware Aurora R13
The Alienware Aurora R13 is as beautiful as ever with the new Legend 2.0 design and packs some of the most powerful components in a mainstream gaming PC. If you can afford a model with top-tier components, it’s an excellent gaming PC.
- Excellent gaming performance
- Eye-catching, beautiful design
- Easy to upgrade
- Can be expensive
- Weak CPU cooler
Last update on 2023-12-04 at 05:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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Alienware Aurora R13 Gaming Desktop - Intel Core i7-12700KF, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB SSD + 1TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB GDDR6, Liquid-Cooling, Windows 11 Home - White
$1,929.97 in stock