Support and Final Thoughts
Support and Documentation
While the documentation on the Aurora 7500 was a bit lacking, and we really expected as much, the overall support from Alienware was pretty good. I called in three different times with some varying questions for tech support including something simple like installing a second DVD burner, being unable to update Norton Anti-virus due to the Windows Firewall and disabling the sound in the BIOS in order to install a new sound card. In all three instances, the Alienware technicians were helpful and figured out the problem in a matter of about 30 minutes.
That doesn’t include hold time though, which on two of the three calls was pretty long; over 15 minutes! The third instance was under 3 minutes, a much more manageable amount of time to wait on hold.
Keep in mind we didn’t call a special, custom press tech support number, these were all simulated real-world calls to simulate typical troubleshooting.
The performance on the Aurora 7500 system, as we tested it, was just a smidge slower than the DIY system built with similar components. Our testing and benchmarks showed that in some cases, mostly related to the storage sub-system on the Alienware computer, it performed noticeably worse. This is quite surprising since the Aurora 7500 uses dual Raptor drives in a RAID 0 configuration — the same drive we used in a single HDD configuration on our DIY system.
In other tests, such as MP3 encoding and DivX encoding, the Alienware computer was actually FASTER than the DIY system, leaving me scratching my head. The fact of the matter is that any system based on an AMD Athlon FX-62 processor is going to be incredibly fast, and you’d be hard pressed to notice any difference in real world usage models while sitting at the machine. You surely wouldn’t be left sitting tapping your toe waiting on it, that much is for sure.
The gaming performance on the Aurora 7500 was exactly what we expected using the FX-62 processor and a dual-GPU EVGA 7950 GX2 graphics card. I was able to play many titles without an issue at resolutions as high as 1920×1200 (the most common widescreen resolution) with AA and AF enabled without stuttering or performance issue to hinder the gameplay. Alienware is definitely using one of the best cards for its Aurora 7500 system, and leaves the option open to move to Quad SLI should you want to take the leap!
Alienware did not include much software with the Aurora 7500, and for the most part this is a good thing. The lack of tons of pre-installed software makes the system boot times faster and the overall system performance much better. That being said, not including Norton Antivirus by default is a bit of a quesiton mark, though the user has the option to add that to their order during the building process.
The “Respawn” software has a slightly unprofessional feel to it thanks to the use of a Norton Ghost boot disk and burned DVD, but it gets the job done and that’s really all we ask for in most cases.
Overall, the ability to get a system with basically NO pre-installed software (other than Windows of course) is a welcome change to what we have seen in the current retail system market.
The included extras that Alienware includes are a mixed bag in my mind; for example the Razer mouse is a nice gaming-centric touch but the use of the older, PS2 Microsoft keyboard dates the company just a bit, making it appear older and out of touch. No respectable gamer would buy one of those given the choices that are out there today and Alienware shouldn’t be including them in high-priced boutque gaming systems. The mouse pad was a nice touch as was the cable routing clip that it came with.
The remaining items are pretty standard, like the driver disks, adaptors and cables. This area could use some spicing up in order to get the buyer to feel more “important” when buying a $4000 computer.
Pricing and Availability
This is one area that always gets a lot of debate when reviewing and testing high-end gaming systems: is the price worth it? If you were to add up the total cost of all the components used in our Alienware Aurora 7500 system reivew, you’d no doubt come up with a number less than the $4101 that you would pay Alienware. But what you don’t get with a DIY system is a out-of-the-box gaming beast that is ready to roll when the shipment arrives. It might be hard to believe, but there are many gamers out there that don’t have the time or patience to build their own system; what is the hobby of some is the annoyance of others.
Alienware customers also get some phone support, and someone to point their fingers at should something go wrong with the system. Warranties are a welcome addition to many a gamer’s repertoire.
Availability doesn’t seem to be too big of a problem for Alienware; building a system identical to ours puts an 8-day wait before the estimated ship date. That kind of time frame is actually pretty fast compared to the Core 2 Duo systems that Dell was offering last month with ship dates into October!
The Alienware Aurora 7500 desktop system is a definitely a machine built for gaming! Our benchmarking and real-world game play testing have proven that to us, and we know you’ll feel the same once you sit down and use it. Pre-built gaming computers are definitely not for everyone, and the desire to build your own system is one we promote at PC Perspective. But for users looking for all the power they can get without the hassle of building and who also want a warranty, the Alienware Aurora 7500 meets those needs head on!
If you have any questions on the Aurora 7500 system or review, or have any comments on our system review process, I encourage you all to head into this thread I started in our forums where I will answer your questions as best I can. Thanks for reading!
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