The Alienware Aurora 7500 features the familiar alien-head case design of Alienware's other Aurora and Area-51 systems, but this particular species comes from a galaxy where you get two of everything. Like the high-end ALX, the Aurora 7500 packs a pair of graphics cards in an SLI configuration. Then the Aurora 7500 includes the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (also available as an option for the ALX), creating a multitasking powerhouse for those who want premium Alienware features without a second mortgage.
Alienware Aurora 7500's plastic-and-metal case--available in six colors, ranging from Conspiracy Blue to Space Black--takes design cues from sci-fi movies and art-deco-era locomotives, but at two feet high and almost as deep, it's huge. Remove a pair of thumbscrews and pop the side door latch to find, under its flashy interior, a fairly standard case design with tons of room for internal devices. With dual hard drives, a floppy drive, and a NEC dual-layer DVD burner, the case still has five open 3.5-inch bays and three available 5.25-inch bays. The dual 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards and a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card don't leave much room for other expansion options, with only a single PCIe slot and a pair of memory sockets left. You get plenty of room for plugging in external devices, though, with four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the system, and in the back, four more USB 2.0 ports, a pair of FireWire ports, and dual Ethernet ports.
Premium brands like Alienware have a well-deserved reputation for attention to detail. Most of the cables inside the Aurora 7500 are routed out of sight, and Cardkeeper braces keep the graphics and sound cards from jostling out of their slots during transport. The sides, the top, and the bottom of the case are lined with foam to dampen case noise, making this a quiet system despite the array of internal fans.
Our $3,764 (as of August 2005) Aurora 7500 included a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ CPU running at 2.4GHz, 1GB of Corsair 400MHz DDR3 SDRAM, and a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards running in SLI mode. Storage came courtesy of a pair of 7,200rpm, 80GB SATA hard drives running in a RAID 0 array.
In our SysMark 2004 tests, the Aurora 7500 and its Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor fell between the Overdrive PC Torque SLI and the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX, both of which use the powerful single-core 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57. It was in the dual-core-oriented multimedia tests that the system really stood out. The Aurora 7500 topped the Photoshop CS test, coming in 16 percent faster than the ABS Ultimate X8, with its dual-core 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840. When it came to encoding MP3s in Apple iTunes, the Aurora 7500 was 48 percent faster than the single-core Velocity Micro. But even the fastest dual-core PC paled beside the Apple Power Mac G5, which used dual PowerPC G5 2.7GHz chips to rip through the iTunes test 49 percent faster than the Alienware Aurora 7500.
The test system included a Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard and IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 combo but no monitor or speakers. Alienware offers a variety of LCD and CRT monitor options, as well as speakers from Creative, Klipsch, and Logitech. Bundled software includes PowerDVD and Nero Express, as well as AlienGUIse, a software app that lets you customize the look of your Windows desktop with Alienware-themed graphics and colors.