Alienware Aurora R12 review

There aren’t many gaming brands as recognisable as Alienware, and with good reason: the company has been making incredible gaming desktops for decades. All that experience has gone straight into the new Alienware Aurora R12, which is a flagship gaming PC that packs in high-end hardware and fantastic design.

If you’re interested in the new Aurora R12, start at the spec list – you need components that’ll handle gaming, but you don’t want to spend too much on hardware that’s just overkill. Beyond that, it’s worth thinking about the PC’s physical design, the customer service, and the support options.

Indeed, getting a broader picture is crucial, and that’s what we’ve provided here by examining the Alienware Aurora R12’s components, design, and support options. It earns a spot on our list of the best home computers , as the superior choice for gaming, right now.

Alienware Aurora R12: Specs

Who is it for?

The Aurora R12 is ideal for people who want to play top-end games and have a machine that looks superb. Dell’s support systems and warranties make the Aurora R12 suitable if you want a system that will be well looked after, too. If you want a safety net, Dell provides it.

The Alienware is not the best option if you want a PC that you can use for work alongside gaming. If that’s what you need, the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition is better. And if you want to tinker, upgrade or do serious overclocking, you’d be better off going to a local builder.

Most Alienware Aurora R12 models get their gaming grunt from Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics cards, and that’s a tremendous place to start for a gaming PC. These cards are the best around right now thanks to the superb Ampere architecture, lashings of memory, and proper ray-tracing.

More affordable Alienware Aurora R12 machines use the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which is the perfect card for playing games at 1080p and for tackling esports titles like Fortnite, Warzone, and League of Legends on 144Hz and 240Hz displays. The RTX 3070 is a more powerful mainstream option that’ll handle any game at 1080p and 1440p. It’s ideal for widescreens, too.

If you’re serious about playing top-end games and having loads of future headroom, the more expensive Aurora models use RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 cards. The RTX 3080 can play games smoothly at 4K, while the RTX 3090 is a monster that’ll tackle 4K and 8K gaming, multi-monitor setups, and the biggest widescreens. It’s a card with one eye on the future.

Conversely, the most affordable Aurora R12 uses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super. That card can handle mainstream 1080p gaming and esports, but it doesn’t have much future headroom and doesn’t support ray-tracing.

Alienware pairs Nvidia graphics cards with Intel processors, and that’s where this machine differs from the AMD-powered Aurora Ryzen Edition .

All the chips inside the Aurora R12 are Intel 11th Gen products. If you’re primarily buying a PC for gaming, then you should be buying Intel – these are all a little better than AMD equivalents. But if you want to tackle photo- and video editing, design work, and productivity multitasking alongside gaming, then you’d be better off with AMD’s Ryzen chips. The same goes for streaming, with Ryzen processors succeeding there, too. Intel isn’t bad in these departments, but AMD is noticeably better.

The entry-level Aurora R12 uses an Intel Core i5-11400F, which is excellent for 1080p and 1440p gaming and for everyday multitasking, like running Office apps and loads of browser tabs.

The Core i7-11700F and Core i7-11700KF can also run content-creation tools and streaming software reasonably well if you’re committed to Intel. They’re good options for underpinning a 4K gaming rig too. The beefiest Aurora R12 PCs use the Intel Core i9-11900F and Core i9-11900KF, which offer high-end gaming and content-creation potential. But, again, equivalent AMD chips are better for productivity.

Entry-level Alienware Aurora R12 machines have 8GB of memory, but you’ll want to upgrade to 16GB for more versatility in games and work. You can get 32GB or more included with the R12, too, but you only need this for work, not games.

Most Aurora R12 machines come with SSDs that range between 256GB and 2TB. You’ll want at least 512GB if you intend to play lots of games, with 1TB being the preferable option given the size of modern titles. The cheapest Aurora uses a hard disk, and we’d not recommend that due to its slow speeds. Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and superb 2.5Gbps Ethernet complete the specification.

As usual, the Aurora R12 offers plenty of customisation. Interestingly, a Core i5-11600K processor is available if you customise, and it’s an excellent mainstream option if you want a little more power than the i5-11400F can offer.

The customisation options enable you to choose AMD graphics cards, and you can customise memory and storage options. It’s possible to add second hard disks and SSDs, and you can choose black or white cases with air or liquid cooling. In general, more customisation options are available on the Aurora R12 than on the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition.

Alienware Aurora R12: Design

The Aurora R12 continues the firm’s well-earned reputation for extravagant design. The case is oval-shaped, with a central pillar that holds ports and loads of RGB LEDs, and the concave air intake has even more lighting.

Alienware Command Center can customise and synchronise the lighting. The case has robust build quality, and it serves up two USB Type-C ports and more than a dozen full-size USB sockets alongside loads of audio jacks.

On the inside, the slick design continues to a tool-free interior with a large arm that swings outwards to allow access to the major components.

The Aurora R12 also has downsides. The interior is accessible, but it looks plain and conventional towers have more space and more upgrade options. And, while the Aurora is rock-solid, it weighs 40lbs and is nearly 20” tall. The included keyboard and mouse are very basic, so you’ll need a quick upgrade to enjoy gaming.

Alienware Aurora R12 desktop vs Alienware laptops

Alienware is just as well-known for its gaming laptops as its desktops. That undoubtedly gives rise to a big question: which should you buy?

Alienware produces three core laptop models. The m15 R4 and m17 R4 are 15.6in and 17.3in machines that balance high-end components with sleek design. The Area-51m R2 is larger, heavier, and more powerful and tops off the range.

Obviously, a gaming laptop includes a screen, keyboard, and trackpad, so they’re more portable than a gaming PC and its bevy of peripherals. That makes a laptop easier to take to LAN events and easier to use if you’ve not got much space.

Conversely, even the best laptops are not as powerful as desktop counterparts, and their screens, keyboards, and touchpads don’t offer the quality of desktop peripherals. Battery life also tends to be terrible.

As ever, your conclusion will depend on your situation – some people will benefit from a laptop while others will want the full PC experience.

Alienware Aurora R12: User Reviews

At the time of writing, the Alienware Aurora R12 is so new that it doesn’t have user reviews. However, the Aurora R12 shares much of its design with the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition and the older R11. Reviews of those rigs give a good indication of what you should expect with the Aurora R12.

Lots of customers who have purchased Aurora machines cite reliability and performance as big plus points, and people also praise its build quality and design. Negative reviews mention the noise output, although if you’ll be using speakers or a headset, that’s not a big problem.

Alienware Aurora R12 review: Customer Service

Any Dell desktop – including Alienware machines – has an extensive package of support options. The main support website provides loads of articles, and you can easily see the specifications of your PC thanks to its support tag. There’s also a forum where you can talk to users and experts.

The Dell website also has links to drivers, utilities, parts, and accessories, and there are options to download manuals and watch video tutorials. Contact options include phone, email, and live chat methods.

There’s also Dell SupportAssist, which can remotely check your PC for problems and apply driver updates. It has several specialized tests that can seek out issues in various parts of your system.

As standard, the Aurora R12 has a one-year hardware warranty that includes remote diagnosis and on-site service.

Dell Premium Support is also available. With this add-on, you get the same hardware support as the standard warranty, but with repairs possible at home, school, and work alongside international travel support and better contact options. That package costs $9.99 a month, and an accidental damage upgrade is also available. You can also buy Dell Premium support Plus, which includes accidental damage cover alongside antivirus and parental control software for $17.99 per month. This is the same as the Dell XPS desktop and the Dell Inspiron machines.

Should you buy the Alienware Aurora R12?

The Alienware Aurora R12 is a superb gaming PC. Its reliance on Nvidia’s latest graphics cards means it has tremendous gaming power. For the most part, the Alienware has good memory and storage options, excellent connectivity, and its good-looking case is sturdy. The Aurora also has great support and warranty options.

If you want a powerful, good-looking, and well-supported gaming PC, then the Alienware Aurora R12 does an excellent job.

There are some scenarios, though, where the Aurora R12 isn’t ideal. If you need a system to handle challenging workloads, like streaming and content creation, Intel’s CPUs are reasonable – but AMD chips are better. If you’d rather go for a basic work machine, but still want excellent customer care, the Dell Inspiron PCs are for you.

Which Alienware Aurora R12 should you choose?

Any of the Alienware Aurora R12 specifications with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics cards are excellent. At the more affordable end of the spectrum, the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 are ideal for mainstream gaming, and the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 are superb high-end cards with loads of future-proofing.

When picking a processor, use a Core i5 chip for mainstream gaming and everyday use or a Core i7 part if you want to play 4K or widescreen games and handle everyday content-creation. Pick a Core i9 chip if you want to use your PC to tackle high-end gaming scenarios and uncompromising design and creative work.

For mainstream use, 8GB of memory is the bare minimum, but you should upgrade to 16GB if possible. You only need to choose 32GB of memory or more if you need to use this PC for high-end productivity applications. In terms of storage, get the biggest SSD you can afford.

The Alienware Aurora R12 does have some components to avoid. Unless you need the cheapest rig possible, don’t buy the GTX 1650 Super graphics card. It’s a reasonable 1080p option, but it’s weak compared to RTX 3000-series GPUs and has no ray-tracing. Also, avoid using a hard disk rather than an SSD in your system as it’ll seriously slow it down.