Alienware Aurora R13 review

Alienware Aurora R13 review

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Epblogs verdict

Alienware’s Aurora R13 sports a redesigned chassis that’s easy to access and looks good on a desk. If you can afford a model with high-end components, it’s an excellent gaming PC.

Alienware Aurora R13 Specs
ProcessorIntel Core i7-12700KF
RAM32 GB
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce RTX 3080
Storage2 TB SSD, 2 TB HDD
AccessoriesNone
PortsUSB-A, USB-C, 3.5 mm audio, Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI
Size20.8 x 20.1 x 8.86 inches
Weight27.1 – 34.2 pounds

Price and availability

  • Loads of customization options
  • Expect to pay between $1,300 – $5,000+

The Alienware Aurora R13 is available for purchase right now via Dell’s website in two colors: Lunar Light (white) and Dark Side of the Moon (black). 

You have a lot of freedom in how you customize your R13. You could end up paying as little as $1,300 for a low-end model, to well over $5,000 if you trick one out with all the best components, including liquid cooling and a top-of-the-line Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti GPU. You can also pay extra for case niceties, such as a transparent removable side panel (instead of the standard opaque one) and a cable cover for the rear, which will help keep messy cables out of sight.

Our Aurora R13 review unit is a little more modest, and lacks such cosmetic flourishes. It arrived packing a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-12700KF CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and two storage drives: a 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD and a 2TB 7,200 RPM HDD. If you were to buy the same machine direct from Alienware at the time of this review, you’d pay roughly $2,979. 

Alienware Aurora R13 review: Design

  • Redesigned case is roomy, quiet and stylish
  • Customizable RBG lighting is tasteful

The Aurora R13 is housed in Alienware’s Legend 2.0 chassis. This design takes the familiar tubular case of earlier Aurora desktops and leans it back a bit, giving it a more angled oval face that slopes backward. The redesigned case measures roughly 20.8 x 20.1 x 8.86 inches and weighs between 27 and 35 pounds depending on how you configure it. This makes the R13 makes it just a smidge lighter than some previous Alienware gaming PCs (such as the Alienware Aurora R11, which weighed 39 pounds) in the old Legend chassis.

Inside, you’ll find a tasteful amount of customizable RGB lighting, including a lightbar and a light on the rear fan so that you can see it spinning through the grille on the front of the case. It’s eye-catching without being too gaudy, much like the Aurora R13 itself.

The redesigned chassis features a number of other design changes that are generally smart. However, the two stubby fins that now stick out from the top of the R13’s backside have a tendency to scrape nearby walls and furniture when moving the case around. 

Ports and upgradability

  • Plethora of ports available
  • Case is easy to open and work in

The Aurora R13 offers a healthy selection of ports, which should keep you from experiencing any headaches when hooking up your favorite gaming gear. 

Up front, you get 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 that the ports can deliver power to connected devices, even when the PC is switched off.

Around the back, you find a port smorgasbord. There’s a quartet of classic USB-A 2.0 ports, as well two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports. You also get two more USB-C ports with varying max speeds: a 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and a 20Gbps USB 3.2 2×2.

There’s also a slew of audio jacks that are well-suited to setting up a surround sound system for your rig. You get rear, side and center/subwoofer output ports, as well as line in and line out, a microphone in, and two SPDIF digital outputs: one for coax cables and the other for Toslink cables. 

Of course, no gaming PC would be complete without an Ethernet jack, and the Aurora R13 sports one (an RJ-45 Killer E3100). This way, you can enjoy a wired connection for all your online gaming.

If you want to get inside the case to fiddle with components or upgrade something, Alienware has made the process pretty painless. Unscrew one key screw on the back of the R13 and the side panel unlocks, allowing you to remove the panel and get at the PC’s innards. 

The Aurora R13 we reviewed is roomy enough to make getting inside and mucking around a breeze. The RAM and storage are pretty easy to get at, but you’ll need to move a bracket or two in order to get to the GPU or power supply. The front of the PC is also pretty easy to remove, though you’ll need to wrestle with a few screws if, for some reason, you want to remove the top of the Aurora R13.

Gaming performance

  • Excellent 1080p gaming machine
  • 4K performance is decent but lags behind more expensive PCs

Our Alienware Aurora R13 review unit ran just about every game I tested on it beautifully, as long as they were running at sub-4K resolutions. I spent many happy hours playing games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Death Stranding, Total War: Warhammer II and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous in 1080p at buttery smooth framerates, with all the graphics settings maxed out.

However, when I cranked the resolution of those games up to 4K, I saw the performance drop below 60 fps in a few games. Cyberpunk 2077 was the biggest offender here, as I saw performance drop to below 20 fps regularly while playing in 4K with all settings maxed.

When we ran the Aurora R13 through our gauntlet of game benchmarks, we saw impressive performance that nevertheless lags a bit behind other high-end gaming PCs. The Origin PC Millennium (2022) (i9-12900K, GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, 32GB RAM) and the Corsair One i300 (i9-12900K, GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, 64GB RAM), two top-of-the-line machines we’ve recently tested, generally performed better.

However, the Origin and Corsair configurations that we tested cost roughly $5,000 apiece, so it’s not too surprising they outperformed our just-under-$3,000 Aurora R13. When you compare the R13’s performance against the more competitively priced $1,900 Acer Predator Orion 3000 (Intel Core i7-11700F, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, 16GB RAM), you see performance gains of 10-50 fps.

Our Aurora R13 review unit had no trouble delivering impressive performance at 1080p. But when we cranked the resolution up to 4K, it started to struggle with achieving 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 pretty much anything at 1080p, or even 1440p, you’ll need to pay for a much beefier rig if you want to play the latest and greatest in 4K.

Overall performance

  • Plenty of power for just about any work task
  • Speedy SSD

The powerful components inside the Aurora R13 give it more than enough muscle to handle pretty much any work you need to do on it. Out of the box, I found the R13 quick to start up, quiet during daily use and more than capable of handling however many Chrome tabs, YouTube videos and other apps I decided to open in the background while playing games.

When we put it through our standard suite of benchmark tests, the Aurora R13 delivered great performance. It earned a score of 15,329 in the Geekbench 5.4 multicore CPU benchmark, which puts it just a bit behind the aforementioned Corsair One i300 (17,965) and Origin PC Millennium (18,096) gaming PCs. This slim performance gap seems almost impressive when you consider the Origin and Corsair PCs are nearly twice as expensive as the Aurora R13. 

The Alienware Aurora’s SSD is pretty speedy as well, which can be a godsend when you’re moving game installs around. When we measured how quickly it transferred 25GB of multimedia files, the Aurora R13 achieved file transfer speeds of 1,894 MBps. That’s pretty fast for a gaming PC, outperforming the Origin PC Millennium (1,023 MBps) and the Predator Orion 3000 (739 MBps), but not the Corsair One i300 (3,006 MBps). 

The Aurora R13 should also be pretty decent at photo/video editing, although it can’t quite match the performance of more expensive rigs. When we had our R13 review unit transcode a 4K video down to 1080p using Handbrake, it did so in 3 minutes 52 seconds. That’s fast, but not as fast as the Origin PC Millennium (3:22) or Corsair One i300 (3:28)

Alienware Aurora R13 review: Software

  • Almost no bloatware
  • Alienware Command Center app is great, everything else is a wash

Our Aurora R13 arrived with a pretty clean install of Windows 11, which is a nice touch. There are a few Dell/Alienware apps pre-installed, most of which you can safely ignore.

The one that’s actually useful is the Alienware Command Center, which you can use to customize a slew of settings. You can create custom RGB lighting patterns, manage your GPU overclock settings, modify cooling fan performance and adjust your audio settings. You can save all of these settings in distinct profiles, and you can even tie profiles and settings changes to specific games. This way, you can set your PC up to automatically increase the GPU overclock or change the lighting pattern whenever you launch Cyberpunk 2077, for example.

There’s also an Alienware Mobile Connect app that lets you use your phone in conjunction with the PC. In theory, you can see and respond to text messages, make calls from the PC and more. However, during over a week of testing I was never able to get the app (running on an iPhone 12) to successfully link with our Aurora R13.

Alienware Aurora R13 review: Verdict

If you don’t like the look of the Aurora R13, or you’re not happy with Alienware’s component selection and shipping times, you could also try ordering a similarly specced Origin Millennium or Corsair One i300 PC. Both are eye-catching gaming PCs that you can trick out with top-tier components. If space is a concern, the i300 is significantly smaller and lighter than the Aurora R13. However, it offers fewer ports and is harder to open and upgrade due to its small size.

But if I had a few extra thousand dollars to throw down on a new gaming PC this year, the Alienware Aurora R13 would be a strong contender. With a compelling new design and as much muscle as you can afford, it’s one of the best gaming PCs I’ve seen this year.

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