While I was benchmarking the ASUS ROG, I was on Dell.com outlet and looking at their deals for Memorial Day. Lo and behold I found one! The system I found was the following:
Alienware Aurora R7
16 GB RAM (2×8 Hynix 2666Mhz)
256 GB (PC401 Hynix NVMe 1.2)
2 TB (Toshiba 7200 RPM)
Dell Nvidia 1080Ti 11 GB DDR6 (says it’s an MSI)
DVD-+RW (HL-DT-ST GU90N)
Intel Z370 chipset
850W 80plus PS
And I got all this for the paltry sum of …. $985. Add tax etc. and I was still under $1100 or less than the ROG. Yes, I am aware that it is not a valid comparison since it is a laptop vs desktop. However, I did decide to benchmark it as well and compare the two. To be fair, the ASUS was very snappy and impressed me in a lot of ways. From the 120Hz screen to just general responsiveness. It was very crisp and I loved it. The lure of a 1080Ti for under a grand was too tempting though and so the ROG will be going back to Best Buy and the Alienware will be taking its place as the main gaming machine. The XPS 13 9380 maintains its spot without needing to fight for remote work machine. The XPS 13 is awesome, but that’s a different post.
To begin with we have the unboxing. The machine was packaged well with lots of padding to keep the machine secure during shipping. It came with an Alienware branded keyboard and mouse. Both were decent but nothing special. The keyboard did look like it was lighted but turned out that it was not. It did have a good feel to the key actions allowing for very fast typing and satisfying soft click action.
The machine itself has plenty of ports, with both USB-C and A and enough ports for 7.1 sound and all the other usual ports expected from an enthusiast machine. Inside is pretty cramped with the power supply actually needing to swing out in order to get to the motherboard and components below. There is room for one NVMe drive and 4 hard drives, although two of them will need to be 2.5″ or smaller. All the other components inside are dwarfed by the 1080 Ti card. Once the machine was turned on, I couldn’t help but notice I heard nothing. This machine’s processor is liquid cooled, the fans are quiet, and add in the sound deadening of the case and I have to almost put my head right next to it to hear it operating normally. This may change when I start gaming on it, but it is nice to have a quiet machine in my home office – since I have 7 rack mount servers on the other side.
As for the components, most of them are more generic sourced components versus something you would pick up yourself to put a system together obviously but during my benchmarking they did really well. The 1080 Ti is a generation old now as the 2080 Ti are out but still a very capable card as my benchmarks show. I’ll still go into them as much as I can of course.
Processor: Not much new here. Most people are well aware of Intel’s i7-8700 8th Gen Coffee Lake processor. This one is running 6 cores with Hyperthreading for 12 Logical. It is running at a base frequency of 3.2 Ghz and turbo boosts to 4.6 Ghz. TDP is 65W and a total of 12 MB of Cache. It also has onboard graphics in the manner of UHD 630.
RAM: My system came with 2×8 GB RAM sticks running at 2666 Mhz. The motherboard used allows for up to 64GB at up to 2933Mhz. The newer Aurora R8 allows for faster RAM to be used.
NVME Hynix SSD: This is one of the parts that Dell has been using in a lot of their systems. It came originally in my XPS 13 as well (before I swapped it for a Samsung 970 Pro) Some of the other one I’ve had haven’t fared that great but I was actually surprised at the numbers on this one. You can buy this one from Amazon in bulk packaging for about $50. Add to it that most manufacturers don’t have great numbers for their smaller drives and this pleasantly surprised me.
Video Card: There is a lot of info out there on the 1080 Ti card as well so I won’t go too far into it here other than to say its fast. 3584 Cores, 11Gbps bandwidth and the need for about 250 Watts just by itself. It’s a serious card.
Chipset: Intel Z370 wasn’t the top end chipset but it offered overclocking features and solid support for things like RAID, Optane and 1×16, or 2×8 PCI-e slots, depending on the design. This motherboard in the Alienware can support two large graphics cards and even has the power connectors dangling to tempt you every time you open the case. Unfortunately, since I don’t have the i7-8700K processor the overclocking features remain locked to me.
Software: The normal complement of software is installed. General Windows 10 Home install, with all the extra trimmings that nobody ever wants. There is also the install of McAffee on there as well. Otherwise its not too heavy with junk software on the system just some Alienware and Dell utilities to keep the machine’s drivers and firmware up to date along with the control software for case lighting. A few uninstalls and I’m ready to start with my own installs of both the benchmark software and also latest drivers (and Microsoft Windows updates).
Compared to the ASUS ROG, this numbers averaged about 2x as good. I started off with 3DMark’s Time Spy and finished with a score of 8846 compared with 4471 of the ROG
Just because I wanted another comparison I ran Sky Diver as well, even though the test isn’t specifically meant for higher-end gaming machines. I ended up roughly about 2x the performance again with 45,482 vs the ASUS’s 22,004.
The next test, got to stretch the legs, so to speak of the 1080 card. The test was Fire Strike and was meant for gaming machines. I ended up with a score of 20,811 on it.
The final 3DMark test I ran was the Time Spy 4k resolution test.
I then moved on to the PC Mark 10 benchmark where once again, the desktop made its presence known with a score of 6004 to the 4288 from the ASUS.
I also ran Cinebench R20 on it and it scored pretty well although being a bit lower clocked than say the i7-7700. I have no doubt that if it was just a bit higher clocked I wouldn’t have any issue with kicking the i7-7700 to the curb.
The Multi-Core and Single Core was much higher than the ASUS at 1745 and 361 for the ASUS. Finally I also wanted to run a benchmark on the PC401 Hynix NVMe drive.
Not bad for an OEM part but obviously is still quite a bit behind the Samsung 970 Pro.
Overall, I believe this system to be pretty awesome and should last me for a while. It came with a year onsite warranty, so that gives me plenty of time to put together the new Ryzen build that I want to put together over the space of the next 6 months or so. A little different purpose in mind for the Ryzen so the Alienware definitely will be hanging around my desktop for a while, looking pretty.