My Alienware Aurora R8 experience
It has been 95 days since I hit the "order" button and at this point, I am glad to say that I am happy with my purchase of the R8. My decision to buy an Alienware desktop started a month before that when I bought another Dell system, an Optiplex 27" AIO with i7 8700 and GTX 1050. At that time, my plan was to use the PC mainly as a surfing/ email machine with some additional juice to run games like Forza Horizon 4. Long story short, that plan fell apart and I decided I needed something that I can have a little bit more control over. Enter the desktop PC.
I've been over to several BYO websites like wepc and pcgamer to look at building my own rig but like many of us here observed, Dell's solution are usually cheaper... provided you're willing to live with what it means to deal with the many colorful issues we see in this forum.
Configured my system as below (trimmed to show the main parts):
1 210-ARGS Alienware Aurora R8
1 801-1540 Onsite/In-Home Service After Remote Diagnosis, 1 Year
1 490-BEUO AMD Radeon RX 560X with 4GB GDDR5
1 321-BDXH 850W EPA Bronze PSU Liquid Cooled Chassis
1 801-1493 Dell Limited Hardware Warranty Initial Year
1 570-AACN Alienware Mouse Is Not Included
1 580-ABUI Keyboard Not Included
1 555-BDBY 802.11ac 1x1 WiFi and Bluetooth
1 400-AMXY 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s (64MB Cache)
1 370-ADUC 8GB, DDR4 2666MHz
1 619-AHCQ Windows 10 Home (64bit) English
1 338-BSDW 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 (6-Core/6-Thread 9M Cache,4.1GHz Processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology)
The order was placed about a week before a US holiday so I was wary of a price drop. However, there was a good 15% discount and that takes a big chunk out of the 850W PSU + liquid cooling upgrade. Total damage is $875 + $76 in tax. I also have DFS account with 12 month interest-free payment and 6% reward.
Like many of you AW owners, waiting for the PC to arrive was a practice of patience. Initially the system showed that it will take ~10 days for it to arrive. I reached out to order support via chat and the rep was very helpful in explaining that other than ready-to-ship AW (like the tons of outlet R7s), most AW systems are built after order received. He did mention he will put a note that we chatted about my wait time concern. I didn't expect that to change anything until 2 days later, I was notified the system was shipped! And 2 days after that, a huge brown box with an alien head sat on my front porch. Without any signature required. Thanks UPS!
Unboxing the system brought me back to my first Dell which was a 17" laptop bought as a college graduation gift in 2003. As I plugged the cables and powered on the system, everything was flawless. Including Cortana's 90dB "HELLO". Ran Heaven benchmark just to get some numbers on the RX560 before shutting down the system and adding/ replacing the following:
WD Blue 1 TB HDD --> Crucial P1 500GB SSD [$61]
RX560X --> MSI RX580 Armor OC 8GB [$160 after $20 rebate]
Reinstalled Win10 with the image from Dell's recovery tool on the SSD. Everything worked great after that until the day I decided to upgrade my RAM...
Before that, recall that I was wary of the price drop that may happen during the holiday. It did happen. So I took a screenshot of final price of the system configured during the holiday. By then it was about 2 weeks after my R8 arrived. Difference was around $50.
Dell has a 30 day price match guarantee so I reached out to Dell order support through their price match page:
The process is pretty straightforward because the agent has full access to Dell website and can quickly verify the difference. They offered me a $50 Dell Rewards credit which I accepted. That brought my total of Rewards to $110, with the $45 coming from the 6% through DFS.
I wanted to get a Logitech k800 keyboard and it cost $95 on Dell's website. So I took a screenshot of an online retailer selling it for $45. This time the chat agent could only take my screenshot image and told me he'll get back to me. An hour later, he called me and told me his manager agreed that they can match the price and use my $45 credit. So I got the keyboard.
Used the other $50 on Xbox giftcard to purchase FH4 ultimate edition when it went on sale.
Looks good and thanks for the post.
I'll just add that most people should just go ahead and build/config with a 512gb (or larger) M.2/PCIe/NVMe SSD from the beginning. That's your bootable C: drive and holds all Windows and programs.
Spinning 7200rpm HDD : About 100 mbps speed
2.5in SATA SSD: 5 times faster (only)
PCIe/NVMe SSD: 25 times faster
And with that same idea ... just go ahead and get the RAM and video-card you want from Dell in the beginning. Nothing to bother with later, and it will all carry the same warranty you purchased.
Addition to the system after initial GPU + SSD swap:
Corsair ML120 Pro x 2 [$40]
Noctua NF-A8 PWM [$16]
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GBx2 3200MHz Kit [$60]
Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut [$15]
Some notes on the items above.
1. It all started out with the RAMs. The only thing I could do with it was to XMP it. That's all. No further overclocking because Dell tech support says my system isn't factory overclocked. Also, I posted that the service manual labelled XMM1 and XMM2 slots incorrectly. Didn't realize I was on single channel until CPU-Z showed that. And strangely I left CPU-Z out from my suite of monitors until a week ago.
2. The non-OC support of the RAMs in AWCC was what led me to this forum. Here I stumbled upon the crazy loud fan post. Ok, time for the Dell case fans to go.
3. Didn't believe that I cannot replace the top fan without removing the AIO cooler. You guys were right, I couldn't. Ended up with that TIM tube.
4. I think I got the biggest bang out of the buck with the case fans upgrade. Loudest thing now is my GPU but that's unavoidable I suppose. Today I'm going to try to install a 80mm fan at the back of the case here:
Top 2 slots taken up by the RX580 card. Between the card's shroud and panel, there is a gap that should allow the fan to fit. Will let you guys know how that turns out. Planning a push-pull configuration with the front ML120 so that I have a front-to-back airflow.
Also looking at the bottom of the casing, there is a "basement" where the plastic bottom resides. If there is a way to replace the bottom steel panel with one that has a hole in the middle, I could consider a PCIe adapter for a vertical GPU mount.
Pics after final cable cleanup and keeping only needed brackets.
Please let me know how to rotate these images correctly. They seemed correct on my PC and even HTML rotate tag doesn't work. Thanks! @Dell630i , your method works. Thank you!
This worked for me;
Get the photos oriented on your computer the way you want them to look in the forum. 'right click' on
the photo; then 'Open with'; then select 'Paint'. Once the photo is opened in MS Paint; just click 'Save'.
Then this forum will not rotate the photo. I have no idea why that works.
Looking forward to seeing the photos you posted once Mod approved!
. . . from the "crazy fan noise" thread (rotated)
The Noctua AF-A8 PWM arrived in the evening. Got to work on it after dinner.
1. Y-splitter has 1 end with only 3 pins. Confirmed this is a non-issue as the additional pin is a sense pin so it is best to only have 1 fan returning sense value to controller.
2. Cannot do center-to-center mount because of tiny metal notches on the slot cover. Also, doing so will put the fan edge very near to the capacitors on the board.
The whole setup worked except for one issue. The new fan was making a ticking sound. Soft and slow when my fans are spinning slowly. Faster and louder as fans ramped up. Hardware and OC forums mentioned that new Noctuas shouldn't have this symptom. I double checked with letting the fan stand on a flat stable surface, with/ without splitter. Still same issue. I got this fan from online retailer, the famous one that got it to my doorstep on the same day I ordered it. Currently chatting with their tech support bot/ person/ unsure.
For now I have removed the fan and probably getting a replacement shipped to me tomorrow or early next week. Stay tuned.
LOOKS GREAT! (photos finally Mod approved)
Noctua should not be making that sound. Do you see any temp difference for your GPU?
Do you have a 120mm fan in the top front intake position where you removed the HDD cradle?
Did you add a fan to your radiator for push-pull in the top exhaust position?
GPU temp was down ~2C at idle but I didn't do further data collection. I have already taken a dozen or so screenshots of before temps, curves, etc. but haven't done so with the new config because I have removed the fan.
I also think it shouldn't be making the sound. Amazon replacement is arriving in a few hours. I may or may not be so unlucky to get 2 consecutive bad units.
Sorry, I have to disagree with the top front intake fan. I did see the discussion you had with other community members on that. Just can't figure out where the air is going to come in from. There's the bottom front grille but it will be a lot more trial and errors to figure out how to optimize the airflow and pressure in the casing. At worst, it could be taking away the efficiency of the bottom front fan which is where I want to focus most on now because GPU thermals isn't as good as CPU in my situation.
Ran out of budget to get another ML120 Pro. I could use one of the noise makers removed but so far I think that solo fan is doing a good enough job pushing through the radiator. At one point, I actually had 4 ML120 Pros because of online retailer dropping price after I installed my fans and refusing to a price adjustment. They are however ok with a free return and me purchasing 2 more fans at the lower price. So I had new fans shipped to me only to be returned for a refund based on higher price.
It dawned upon me that noise reduction is never ending because now my PSU (Delta 850W) fan drives me crazy. Time to save up for a replacement. I see you have swapped yours out for a Seasonic.