Alienware Aurora 7500 - Athlon 64 3000+ 1.8 GHz review: Alienware Aurora 7500 - Athlon 64 3000+ 1.8 GHz
The Alienware Aurora 7500 features the familiar alien-head case design of Alienware's other Aurora and Area-51 systems, but this particular species comes from a galaxy where you get two of everything. Like the high-end ALX, the Aurora 7500 packs a pair of graphics cards in an SLI configuration. Then the Aurora 7500 includes the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (also available as an option for the ALX), creating a multitasking powerhouse for those who want premium Alienware features without a second mortgage.
Alienware Aurora 7500's plastic-and-metal case--available in six colors, ranging from Conspiracy Blue to Space Black--takes design cues from sci-fi movies and art-deco-era locomotives, but at two feet high and almost as deep, it's huge. Remove a pair of thumbscrews and pop the side door latch to find, under its flashy interior, a fairly standard case design with tons of room for internal devices. With dual hard drives, a floppy drive, and a NEC dual-layer DVD burner, the case still has five open 3.5-inch bays and three available 5.25-inch bays. The dual 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards and a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card don't leave much room for other expansion options, with only a single PCIe slot and a pair of memory sockets left. You get plenty of room for plugging in external devices, though, with four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the system, and in the back, four more USB 2.0 ports, a pair of FireWire ports, and dual Ethernet ports.
Premium brands like Alienware have a well-deserved reputation for attention to detail. Most of the cables inside the Aurora 7500 are routed out of sight, and Cardkeeper braces keep the graphics and sound cards from jostling out of their slots during transport. The sides, the top, and the bottom of the case are lined with foam to dampen case noise, making this a quiet system despite the array of internal fans.
Our $3,764 (as of August 2005) Aurora 7500 included a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ CPU running at 2.4GHz, 1GB of Corsair 400MHz DDR3 SDRAM, and a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards running in SLI mode. Storage came courtesy of a pair of 7,200rpm, 80GB SATA hard drives running in a RAID 0 array.
In our SysMark 2004 tests, the Aurora 7500 and its Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor fell between the Overdrive PC Torque SLI and the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX, both of which use the powerful single-core 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57. It was in the dual-core-oriented multimedia tests that the system really stood out. The Aurora 7500 topped the Photoshop CS test, coming in 16 percent faster than the ABS Ultimate X8, with its dual-core 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840. When it came to encoding MP3s in Apple iTunes, the Aurora 7500 was 48 percent faster than the single-core Velocity Micro. But even the fastest dual-core PC paled beside the Apple Power Mac G5, which used dual PowerPC G5 2.7GHz chips to rip through the iTunes test 49 percent faster than the Alienware Aurora 7500.
The test system included a Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard and IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 combo but no monitor or speakers. Alienware offers a variety of LCD and CRT monitor options, as well as speakers from Creative, Klipsch, and Logitech. Bundled software includes PowerDVD and Nero Express, as well as AlienGUIse, a software app that lets you customize the look of your Windows desktop with Alienware-themed graphics and colors.
Another big draw of the Aurora 7500 is the exceptional service and support the company offers. Because PCs such as the Aurora 7500 appeal to users who like to stay on the leading edge of performance, Alienware offers a program that lets you purchase new components for your system and either upgrade your hardware yourself or receive free factory installation throughout the life of your warranty.
The Aurora 7500 includes only a one-year standard warranty, but onsite service is part of the coverage. You can add up to three more years of coverage for $265. Phone support is 24/7 and toll-free, with online chat as an option. The Alienware Web site offers driver updates and extensive support FAQs.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF||Doom 3 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF||Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF||Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF|
(Lower times are better)
|Sorenson Squeeze 4.0 video encoding test (in seconds)||Adobe Photoshop CS test (in seconds)||Apple iTunes 126.96.36.199 MP3 encoding test (in seconds)|
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
ABS Ultimate X8
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840; Intel Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB SATA 10,000rpm; Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 400GB SATA 7,200rpm; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller
Alienware Aurora 7500
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS728080PLA380 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Apple PowerMac G5 dual 2.7GHz
Macintosh OS 10.4; dual PowerPC G5 2.7GHz; 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (AGP); 250GB Maxtor Serial ATA hard drive
Dell Dimension XPS 600
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS725050KLA360 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two 74GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA; one Maxtor 300GB 7,200rpm SATA
Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one WDC WD250JD-00HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiL3114 SoftRAID5
Velocity Micro ProMagix DCX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840 overclocked to 4.0GHz; Intel 955X Express chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X850 XT PE PCIe; two 74GB Western Digital Serial ATA hard drives in a RAID 0 array; one 400GB Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 Serial ATA hard drive