Pre-built gaming PCs like the Alienware Aurora R13 are only growing in importance, especially considering that the PC components gamers need to build their own PCs are getting more and more expensive. Although, as we’ve seen over the past year, Alienware’s PC prices haven’t really been affected that much. That means more people than ever are probably looking at this gaming rig to see if it’s a reasonable alternative to building a PC, and it is – but it’s not really that simple.
This new tower from Alienware comes with a few cosmetic upgrades, including a glass side panel that has been missing from Dell’s high-end gaming PCs for a few years now. But there are some things that should be reconsidered for this machine to be a great consumer device.
Mainly, the CPU cooler. The Alienware Aurora R13 uses the latest 12th Gen Intel processors, and the model we have in front of us uses the Core i9-12900K. It’s a power-hungry chip that gives off a lot of heat when under load, but Alienware decided to equip it with a 120mm AIO liquid cooler. While that might be enough for a current Core i7 processor, it really doesn’t cut it for a processor as power-hungry as Intel’s flagship.
That alone disqualifies the PC from being the go-to for gamers who also want a PC that can double as a workstation. The moment you try to do some heavy video editing or rendering on this PC, you will encounter thermal throttling issues.
But since the Alienware Aurora R13’s primary focus is PC gaming rather than creative workloads, that’s less of a big deal than with other machines. You’re not going to max out a Core i9-12900K in a Call of Duty match, after all. If you are just a PC gamer, this will be a good PC.
It’s just that at the end of the day, when you pay $4,379 for the configuration reviewed here, it would be nice to know that you can push the hardware to within its limits without affecting the longevity of the computer.
Price and availability
The Alienware Aurora R13 is available now, starting at $1,399 in the US. This configuration will get you an Intel Core i5-12600KF, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. In the UK the starting price is a bit higher at £1,749 which is the same as the US version , starting with an RTX 3060 instead.
But if you’re in Australia, you’re looking at a price tag of at least AU$5,499 and you’ll get an Intel Core i7-12700KF processor, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 – a pretty high-end configuration for the model. of entry.
Because it’s an Alienware platform, you can upgrade it with the highest-end components on the market, right now. If you want the specs listed on the right, you’re looking at a price of $4,729 / £4,999 / AU$9,349. However, it should be noted that the Australian version of this configuration comes with an additional 2TB hard drive.
You can also double the RAM up to 128 GB, which will further increase the price. However, due to poor CPU cooling, we don’t recommend getting that much memory. After all, any workload that will use up all that RAM will eventually cause your CPU to throttle – more on that later.
But compared to other similar gaming PCs like the HP Omen 30L, it’s really not a bad price. This PC will start at $1,599 / £1,699 / AU$3,299, although it starts with higher-end components.
If you’ve seen an Alienware desktop computer in the last couple of years, the Alienware Aurora R13 will look familiar. It has the same Legend design language that the company has been using for a few years now, and even comes in the same ‘Lunar Light’ or ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ colorway options – basically black or white.
However, there’s one huge change here compared to the Alienware Aurora R13 – and that’s the side panel. Instead of having solid plastic panels on both sides of the PC, the left side now has a glass side panel, which lets you see the components inside. Of course, because it’s a mass-produced PC, it’s not as nice inside as a Maingear rig or whatever, but Alienware has made things a little prettier now than you will see inside the case.
The main difference is that the metal arm mechanism that housed the Alienware Aurora R12’s power supply is gone, meaning you can directly see the CPU cooler without having to move anything. Not only does it look better, it also means this PC is going to be many easier to upgrade further down the line.
To open it, there’s a small tab on the back of the computer just above the rear exhaust, secured by a Philips-head screw. Simply loosen that screw, pull that tab, and the side panel will release for removal. From there, you can access the CPU, RAM, Graphics Card, and NVMe SSD without having to worry about anything.
It’s a much more accessible design, and we applaud it, but there are some lingering issues here.
Namely, due to the chassis design, there is no room to install a larger AIO liquid CPU cooler. Instead, if you go for the water-cooling option, you’ll only get a 120mm AIO. That’s fine for low to mid-range CPUs, but it’s a serious issue if you have something like the Intel Core i9-12900K inside.
Under load, that means the fans have to work overtime, and it ends up being extremely loud. It’s not going to be a PC you want to pick up if you want your gaming sessions to be quiet – but that really won’t be an issue if you’re wearing a gaming headset while using this rig.
All the great things about the R12 chassis are back, though. Up front, you get two USB-A ports and one USB-C, as well as very attractive RGB lighting around the center panel. Then on the back you get a huge collection of ports, which is what you’d expect from a desktop gaming PC. The only thing that’s really changed here from the last-gen model is that the power draw has moved from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. This makes it more like other gaming PCs, but shouldn’t realistically change the way your setup looks.
Because the Alienware Aurora R13 that was sent to us for review is equipped with an Intel Core i9-12900K processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 and 64GB of DDR5 RAM, there are hardly any games that absolutely won’t be ejected from the water with this thing. This gaming PC has absolutely no problem playing any game on the market at 4K with every setting maxed out, and should stay that way for quite some time.
We have it in our living room, sitting next to our entertainment center, and we’ve used it a lot to enjoy a bit of gaming in our downtime. Next-gen games like Guardians of the Galaxy and Cyberpunk 2077 run like an absolute dream here, especially when using technologies like DLSS and FSR. And, the landmarks listed to the right tell much the same story.
The issues arise when trying to push this PC out of the game. When we first installed this machine, we were working with Alder Lake for the first time, and so we loaded up Blender, basically just to see what would happen.
Although the performance was good, it wasn’t long before we noticed that the CPU numbers were hitting temperatures in excess of 100°C, leading to severe thermal throttling. We tried putting the cooler back on, and it didn’t result in a substantial difference in temperature. The CPU cooler here just isn’t enough for this CPU. Even in our own testing of the Alder Lake flagship, we see temperatures of around 86°C under full load on an outdoor test rig with a giant 360mm AIO cooler – so the Alienware Aurora R13’s 120mm AIO just isn’t going to cut it.
This won’t be an issue with setups with slightly less powerful CPUs, though. Our advice is that if you want this Alienware platform, stick with an Intel Core i7-12700K or lower. Realistically, gaming performance on this CPU will be nearly as good as the 12900K. It will just last a little longer.
It wouldn’t be as bad if there was room in the chassis to install a larger liquid cooler, but unfortunately there isn’t. If high-end processors continue to be as hot as they are now – and we think they will – Alienware will have to go back to the drawing board for its desktop PC designs. Hopefully it can do that without abandoning the beautiful Legend design language it’s cultivated over the past few years.