Gamers and specification junkies will love the fact that the Aurora 7500 uses two Nvidia Geforce 7800 GTX graphics cards running in a Serial Link Interface (SLI) configuration. The 7800 GTX has recently been superseded by the ridiculously quick GeForce 7900 GTX, but even this isn't a match for two 7800 GTXs running in tandem. Each card has a pair of DVI ports so you can drive up to four separate monitors. They also each have a TV-out port for piping your graphics through a television, but to get the most out of the cards you'll be better off using a dedicated PC monitor that's at least 19 inches in diagonal size.
Another of the Aurora 7500's star characteristics is its whopping 1 terabyte of physical storage space. This is provided by a single 500GB IBM Deskstar HDS725050KLA360 hard drive, and two 250GB Deskstar HDT722525DLA380 hard drives in a striped RAID array. The latter gives the PC the benefit of faster disc access, by splitting all read/write tasks equally between the two drives. Think of it as the equivalent of doing the washing up with four arms instead of two.
Reassuringly, Alienware has equipped the Aurora 7500 with a 600W Enermax power supply unit (PSU). This amount of power is overkill on most PCs, but it's a good addition here, as the system has a high number of internal components. There's a knob at the rear of the PSU that can increase or decrease the spin speed of its internal cooling fan, but this is fairly redundant because of the din emitted by the Akasa CPU fan and twin graphics cards.
Like most Alienware PCs, the Aurora 7500 comes with a variety of Alienware skins known as AlienGuise, to make the Windows XP Home operating system look different. It's ultimately a pointless feature, but it helps to remind users they've splashed out on a fairly exclusive PC.
The Aurora 7500's performance was unsurprisingly very impressive. Its FX-60 CPU helped it achieve a very strong PCMark 2005 score of 6,486 -- the highest result we've ever seen. The FX-60 is touted as a CPU primarily designed for gaming applications, but its dual-core architecture helps it chew its way through office productivity and multimedia applications quicker than any other desktop CPU we've seen.
Graphics performance was very impressive, as you'd expect from any PC that uses a pair of Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card in tandem. These helped the Aurora 7500 achieve a 3DMark 2006 score of 8,460 when running at a resolution of 1,280x1,024 pixels -- again, the highest we've seen. Keen gamers will want to run games at a resolution of at least 1,600x1,200 pixels and in this case, the Aurora 7500 achieved an impressive 7,652.
Results from real-world gaming tests were also notable. It threw Doom 3 around the screen at a disturbingly quick 147 frames per second (fps) -- even at a resolution of 1,600x1,200 pixels. Increasing the image quality settings to 4x anti-aliasing and 4x anisotropic filtering did little to slow things down -- the game still ran at 120fps.
Only when applying the most intense level of graphics processing did the Aurora 7500 show any signs of fatigue. At a resolution of 1,600x1,200 pixels with 8x AA and 16x AF the game slowed to 61fps -- which is still perfectly smooth.
Editor's note: At time of publication, neither the graphics card nor the RAM configurations that we reviewed were available on the Alienware site. We expect them to be available again soon, however, and alternate configurations are available in the meantime.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide