Alienware Aurora R16 review: a little less Alien, a little more office

The Alienware Aurora R16 is tailor-made for the office

black gaming PC with glass side
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

It seems that Dell is trying to appeal to the office PC market with its Alienware line while still maintaining its grip on the gaming market. This means that the Alienware Aurora R16, thanks to its stylish yet understated design, could attract hybrid workers who want a gaming PC but one that can fit into a home or work office.

Pros

  • +

    Great performance

  • +

    Compact chassis

  • +

    Great port selection

  • +

    Excellent ventilation

Cons

  • -

    A bit pricey

  • -

    Glass side panel is pointless

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Alienware Aurora R16: Two-minute review

Last year saw the release of the Alienware Aurora R15, Dell’s powerful and expensive gaming PC outfitted with some of the highest specs on the market. The Alienware Aurora R16, however, attempts something different. While it’s still one of the best prebuilt gaming PC desktops, it’s undergone a redesign to make it both more lightweight and to better fit an office desktop. 

Further aiding that office-friendly look is its surprisingly benign black box shape, which completely defies the normal “alien-eques” aesthetics of Alienware PCs. The only minor flaw this desktop has is the glass side panel that lets you see all the innards, aka the components. Unfortunately, the look inside is a bit boring, as Dell didn’t bother to change the interior layout from previous models.

The port selection is quite excellent, with pretty much everything you could possibly need to hook up to the desktop. It includes four USB 3.2 Gen Type-A ports, three USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one audio jack, two SPDIF digital outputs, one side surround output, one rear surround output, one center/subwoofer output, one Ethernet port, one line out port, and one line in port.

Its ventilation is also excellent, with the Alienware Aurora R16 never coming close to overheating or even feeling particularly warm around the vents during intense gaming sessions. This is due to the several vents on the top and on the side of the case, an internal liquid cooling system, and a honeycomb vent located under the glass side panel. The latter is effective but visually bizarre as the R16 doesn’t need it shaped that way, unlike the R15.

It performs extremely well with any of the best PC games you can possibly throw at it like a champ. Titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Dirt 5 run smoothly at 1080p, which is what it was meant for. And while Dirt 5 can also handle 4K while maintaining over 80 fps, Cyberpunk 2077 suffers greatly without DLSS 3 active.

Alienware Aurora R16: Price & availability

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
  • Starting at $1,749 / £1,349 / around AU$2,670
  • Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Alienware Aurora R16, while still a bit on the expensive side, is one of the most affordable gaming PCs equipped with current-gen components like the 13th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics card. Starting price is at $1,749 / £1,349 / around AU$2,670, with upgrades not skyrocketing the price nearly as much. And there’s another, even more affordable option that will be available later in 2023.

Dell confirmed that the R16 will launch in US, UK, and Australia. And while pricing has been confirmed for US and UK, there’s no official Australian pricing at this time. Unlike the US release, which is August 3, 2023, both the UK and Australian release is August 8, 2023.

  • Price score: 4 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Specs

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)

The Alienware Aurora R16 comes in two configurations, with a planned third cheaper one coming later in 2023. The one given to me for review is as follows: an Intel Core i7-13700F processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 12GB GDRR6 graphics card, 32GB DDR5 RAM, and 1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD storage.

Meanwhile, the current starting configuration for the US is an Intel Core i7-13700F, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD storage. Starting configuration for the UK version is a bit different as it comes with an Intel Core i7-13700F, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD of storage.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
These are the specs for the Alienware Aurora R16
ComponentBase modelReview unitTop configuration
Price$1,749.99 (around £1,367 / AU$2,610)$1,899.99 (around £1,485 / AU$2,836)N/A
CPUIntel Core i7-13700FIntel Core i7-13700FIntel Core i9F-13900F
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 4070Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 12GB GDRR6Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
RAM16GB RAM (8x2) DDR5 RAM32GB (16x2) DDR5 RAM64GB DDR5
Storage1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD4TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SS
Ports4x USB 3.2 Gen Type-A, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x audio port, 2x SPDIF Digital Output, 1x Side Surround Output, 1x Rear Surround Output,1x Center/Subwoofer Output, 1x ethernet port, 4x USB 3.2 Gen Type-A, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x audio port, 2x SPDIF Digital Output, 1x Side Surround Output, 1x Rear Surround Output,1x Center/Subwoofer Output, 1x ethernet port, 4x USB 3.2 Gen Type-A, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 1x audio port, 2x SPDIF Digital Output, 1x Side Surround Output, 1x Rear Surround Output,1x Center/Subwoofer Output, 1x ethernet port,

Being that this is a PC and not a laptop, each component can be upgraded. However, the tight fit within the chassis could make certain upgrades more difficult. And if you’re not the self-upgrading type, there are plenty of configuration options available to customize your PC.

  • Specs score: 5 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Design

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
  • More compact and takes up less desk space
  • Glass side panel is pointless
  • Great port selection
  • Great ventilation

The Alienware Aurora R16 is fascinating as a desktop gaming PC, as its aesthetics are both subdued and a departure from the usual Alienware design. Though it’s still a gaming machine through and through, the plain black case, subtle RGB lighting, more compact box shape, and single clear side panel create a PC that’s a perfect fit for the office. It’s impressive how little space it takes up on a desk and as for its weight, it’s easier to maneuver around than the previous model, though it’s still a bit hefty.

While I do enjoy the striking look of the clear side panel, it’s a bit out of place for a PC that’s meant to fit in a more professional setting. Not to mention there’s nothing particularly interesting to see, since the interior is set up pretty much like any other Alienware desktop. It’s actually a bit less interesting due to the lack of RGB lighting and the almost claustrophobic insides.

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)

It does have an impressive port selection, with plenty of ports on the front and back tailor-made for pretty much anything you’d want to connect the PC to. There are four USB 3.2 Gen Type-A ports, three USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one audio jack, two SPDIF digital outputs, one side surround output, one rear surround output, one center/subwoofer output, one Ethernet port, one line out port, and one line in port.

Ventilation is also some of the best out there among gaming PCs, with not a single moment of overheating during long gaming sessions. There are several vents on top and on the sides of the chassis that aid in that, along with the 240mm liquid cooling system inside. Not to mention how whisper quiet it is, you would be hard-pressed to hear any sound coming from it. And while the honeycomb-shaped vents below the clear panel work well, it’s an unnecessary design choice considering that the R16 doesn’t need it, unlike the R15. A regular vent would have been more than sufficient.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Performance

  • Excellent all-around performance
  • Works well for gaming, productivity, and creative/editing
Alienware Aurora R16: Benchmarks

Here's how the Alienware Aurora R16 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 73,829; Fire Strike: 36,116; Time Spy: 17,203; Port Royal: 10,934
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 17,664 points
GeekBench 5: 1,935 (single-core); 15,764 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 8,194 points
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 133 fps; (1080p, Low): 310 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra): 16 fps; (Low): 56 fps
Dirt 5 (Ultra): 82 fps; (Low): 168 fps
25GB File Copy: 20.9
Handbrake 1.6: 3:52
CrossMark: Overall: 2,076 Productivity: 1,921 Creativity: 2,328 Responsiveness: 1,858

As with most gaming PCs, the Alienware Aurora R16 not only performs well with high-end PC titles, but can also double as a productivity and creative/editing machine.

It handles titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Dirt 5 well, with the former scoring nearly 60 fps consistently while the latter hits over 150 fps on lower settings. However, it gets a little dicey for Cyberpunk 2077 when you kick up the resolution to 4K, dropping the framerate to 16 fps without DLSS 3 active. Dirt 5 drops as well but the framerate is still an excellent 82 on average. This tracks with the focus of the R16 being on 1080p and QHD gaming, so having it run at 4K resolution isn’t an ideal condition.

Dell made an interesting claim that the R16 matches or is superior in performance to the R15 while maintaining mid-range pricing. And when looking over the benchmark scores you can definitely see where that claim comes from. In 3DMark, the R16 is surprisingly close to the R15 in Night Raid and Fire Strike, only losing out in Port Royal and Time Spy. Though the latter far surpasses the former in Cinebench R23 results, the R16 either matches or exceeds the GeekBench 5 and PCMark 10 Home Test results.

Of course, benchmarks aren’t the end all be all of the actual performance, and naturally, the R15 outperforms the R16 when it comes to gaming due to having a better graphics card. But for what the R16 has and for its lower cost, it’s a solid machine for those wanting solid game performance without paying close to or over $4,000 for the top-tier specs.

It also scores well on other benchmarks like the 25GB File Copy test, the Handbrake 1.6 test, and the CrossMark test. If you need a PC for creative and editing projects, it would be worth investing in a monitor with a solid color gamut to take advantage of this PC. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Alienware Aurora R16?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Alienware Aurora R16
AttributesNotesRating
PriceFor a mid-range option, the price is right4 / 5
SpecsThe specs for any build and there are tons of customization options5 / 5
DesignIt's a far more subdued design for Alienware and it mostly works4 / 5
PerformanceExcellent performance all around, no matter your use for it4.5 / 5
Average totalThis is a great PC that does gaming well, as well as plenty of other office work4.5 / 5

Buy it if...

You need a well-rounded PC
Showing by its benchmarks and general performance, this PC can handle it all and well. You can use it for gaming, productivity, and creative or editing projects.

You need a diverse port selection
The port selection is excellent, a well-rounded selection that caters to many devices. 

You need a smaller PC for the office
Compared to other models from the same line, this one is more compact and a bit lighter, which lets it fit right in an office environment.

Don't buy it if...

You're on a strict budget
While the cheapest option is nice to see, it's still not a budget machine and the highest configurations can get a little pricey.

Alienware Aurora R16: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Alienware Aurora R16Maingear TurboAlienware Aurora R15
Price:$1,749.99 (around £1,367 / AU$2,610)$5,807 / £4,865 / AU$8,645$4,499.99 / £4,799 including VAT / around AU$6,700
CPUIntel Core i7-13700FAMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D13ᵗʰ Gen Intel Core i9-13900KF
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 4070 12GB GDRR6Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 TiNvidia GeForce RTX 4090 24GB GDDR6X
RAM32GB (16x2) DDR5 RAMAsus B660-PLUS 16GB DDR432GB DDR5
Storage1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD1 x 1TB M.2, 1 x 2TB SSD1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD

If the Alienware Aurora R16 has you considering other options, here are two more gaming PCs to consider...

Image

Alienware Aurora R15
This is the predecessor to the R16, and though it's way more expensive, it also delivers top-tier gaming performance. It also sports the classically unique Alienware design.

Check out our full Alienware Aurora R15 review

Image

Maingear Turbo
If you want a gaming PC that has it all and then some, this top-of-the-line option should be right up your alley. As long as the price tag isn’t an issue for you.

Check out our full Maingear Turbo review 

How I tested the Alienware Aurora R16

  • I tested the Alienware Aurora R16 for about a week
  • I tested PC games at both low and high settings
  • I used a variety of benchmarks as well as general gameplay to test performance

First, I tested the general weight of the Alienware Aurora R16 by lifting it up and around my apartment. After I set it up, I ran several benchmarks to test out both the processor and graphics card, as well as in-game gameplay performance. Finally, I stress-tested titles like Dirt 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 in various settings to see both overall performance and ventilation quality.

The Alienware Aurora R16 is specially made as a gaming PC, which meant the brunt of my testing revolved around checking game performance and looking for any ventilation issues.

I've tested plenty of gaming PCs and laptops, making me more than qualified to understand benchmark test results and how to properly stress test machines to see how well they work during both casual and intense gaming sessions.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.