I need to start by stating that I am not a computer whizz and am new to the PC gaming scene. I know how to use one pretty well, but I don't know how the parts work together and why a certain type of RAM is better than another or how to overclock the processor. I know enough to be dangerous, like the parts that make up a computer (CPU, GPU, RAM, etc.) but I've never built my own computer. I've always wanted to, but I've always been a console gamer. It was easier to get into and much less pricey. And I know PC gamers generally claim the graphically performance as being superior to console gaming, but if you've never experienced it, how do you know what you're missing?
Anyways, PC gaming is booming with eSports. Everywhere you go, from Target to Best Buy has their own section (albeit sometimes small, but still it's there) of gaming keyboards, mice, headsets, etc. I also like to edit 4K videos on the computer using Adobe Elements, which my laptop could handle, but I thought it would be nice to have a nice desktop that do it all: play games with cutting edge graphics, edit videos and do actual work from home (I'm an attorney) when necessary.
I should also mention this is just the computer, and doesn't include a monitor. I purchased a Dell 27 inch QHD gaming monitor with G-Sync (to help with frame rates) and purchased Alienware gaming mouse and keyboard to replace the cheap ones bundled with the computer. (I'm a big fan of the lighting on the computer and keyboard and mouse, it's pretty cool and something non-PC gamers don't see on a regular basis). But keep in mind that my experience is seen through the lens of an awesome monitor which I highly recommend getting if you're going to go so far and buy this Alienware Aurora.
All-in-all, this Alienware PC hits on most major notes. My biggest gripes, at least from the gaming aspect, is personal to me, and that's: how do you game? In a console, you put in a disc or go to the PS or Xbox store and buy a game. On a PC, it feels like a different ballgame. I heard of Steam so I immediately downloaded it. It was pretty seamless but for the fact that it takes hours to download games (depending on your internet connection) and you can't play until it is completely downloaded. It's also a major shift going from controller to keyboard and mouse. I must say, I like it, but it can get confusing to those unaccustomed or used to making changes to keyboard settings. I know you can play with a controller but I do actually prefer the precision of a mouse.
In terms of gaming, I started by buying Bioshock Infinite (because it was cheap and I love the game) as well as Far Cry 5. Despite Bioshock being some 5 years old, it looked stunning in QHD with Ultra settings. HOWEVER, I noticed a lot of stuttering on these settings. Again, I go back to my original comment about now having intimate knowledge about PC gaming; I just assumed this computer could handle the highest settings. On Infinite, I found it couldn't, at least not consistently. Now, I still played on the highest settings if for no other reason than it was absolutely stunning, and I simply fought through the stutters. These issues arose even with Dell GSync monitor, but it could have simply been user error. When I first played the game on an actual TV in 1080P resolution, the game played fluidly. I'm sure if I turned the settings down jsut a notch everything would have been fine.
Now, onto Far Cry 5. It. Was. Gorgeous. The settings weren't all the way jacked up, but I was simply blown away by the quality. Honestly, it was tough going back to my PS4 after that. I enjoyed just looking around at the scenery as much as I enjoyed playing. It was buttery smooth. Again, I purchased this game through Steam. I haven't purchased any other games by any other means, yet.\
While this PC is clearly aimed towards gaming, I would be remissed not to comment on its performance in other areas. Editing 4K footage (taken from GoPro Hero5) on Adobe Elements was for the most part, flawless. The biggest performance gains (compared to my 2 year old Acer Aspire R) was the amount of time it took to create a finished 4K product. The speed it took to accomplish that feat blew my Acer Aspire out the water.
My biggest and really only complaint, was the speed in which it takes to boot the darn thing up. This Alienware Aurora supposedly has some Intel Octane memory, which I admittedly don't know what purpose it serves, but I don't see much improved performance based on startup speeds. In my Acer Aspire, I put a 1 TB SSD in it and the thing turns on and off almost instantly. Not the case with the Alienware Aurora. Last night for example, it took almost 4 solid minutes (yes I timed it) to turn on and get to the login screen. This is unacceptable. Now in reality I don't turn it off much, but I expect better performance from such a high powered machine.
As far as expandability, I haven't done anything yet, but I did open it up to see how easy it would be to add another HDD. It's dead simple, you unscrew a bolt and it swings open for easy access. For someone unaccustomed to customizing a PC (but still interested in the option to do so in the future) this is a big plus. It also has a ton of ports, like some dozen or so (I don't remember specific count) of USB ports. I assume this is to account for the number of USB ports needed for VR headsets. I have a PSVR and don't plan on investing in a Oculus or HTC Vive anytime soon.
I did like the dedicated ports for surround sound speakers. I mostly game and use my computer with a USB headset because I play at night when my family is asleep, but when I get my basement complete I fully intend on utilizing surround sound speakers. This sure beats using a headphone jack for speakers (or even USB).
At the end of the day, a good PC gaming system is expensive. So if you're even reading this, chances are you are ready to invest the money to get a good computer. For those like me that are new to PC gaming, this is a simple (but more than console plug and play) way to get started with PC gaming. It's a powerful computer with one of the top end graphics cards that can handle most anything you throw at it. Plus, it's a trusted brand that makes quality products which I believe to be an important factor when purchasing anything that costs this much.
If you want to PC game and can afford it, buy this computer. But know that it has a learning curve in order to take full advantage of its potential. I would also recommend a QHD monitor to go with it, but...it's hard to ever go back.