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The Aurora 5500 doesn’t come with a monitor as standard, but it comes with a Logitech Internet Pro keyboard and a very basic optical Microsoft mouse – which happens to be called Basic Optical Mouse 1.0A – which most gamers will throw in the bin the second they see it. The Aurora 5500 ships with a fUnc Industries fUnc sUrface 1030 mouse mat which felt very good during the time I used it. The mouse mat has two usable sides two it, rough and smooth, so you can flip it over depending on your preference and it fits inside a rubber surround which means that it sticks to the desk. It even comes with a small clip that holds your mouse cable in place.
A cool feature is the skinning software that comes with the Aurora 5500 which enables you to load up one of four different Alienware skins on Windows XP, which makes it look quite funky.
Performance wise there’s definitely nothing wrong with the Aurora 5500, but you would get more out of the graphics card with a faster processor. With an overall SYSMark 2004 score of 181 there won’t be any issues running day to day software. But I wouldn’t imagine anyone buying this machine unless they’re going to play games on it, so what really matters here is the game benchmarks.
It really comes down to the type of display you intend to use with the Aurora 5500 and what level of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering you want enable, but it won’t even break a sweat up to 1,600 x 1,200. Beyond this it starts to struggle slightly when you enable 4x FSAA, at least if you expect to see 60+ FPS in games. Comparing it to the higher specced, but more expensive, Mesh Xtreme Essential TRX you can see that the Aurora 5500 is actually faster in all of the 3D benchmarks. This is down to the Aurora using a single core processor that’s faster in games than the lower clocked dual-core chip used in the Mesh.
At £1,399.00 including VAT plus delivery, the Aurora 5500 isn’t cheap, but it’s not over priced either. However, I have some reservations about the configuration we received from Alienware, especially with regards to the PSU. This isn’t the best system we’ve seen from Alienware, but it’s a lot more affordable than previous machines, which goes some way to making up for that. Still, I’m a sucker for the nice big Alienware cases and this new mid-sized case just doesn’t do it for me.
The Alienware Aurora 5500 offers good performance, a fast graphics card and the Alienware touch. But the new case isn’t cool enough and the poor choice of power supply is disappointing. However, if you want an Alienware PC on a budget, it’s not bad value.
For an extra £32 you can get the normal case from Alienware instead of the one reviewed. An SLI PSU is also available as a cost option if you're planning to upgrade at a later stage.