It’s compact, industrial and wants to abduct you into the world of gaming.

Building your own desktop is almost similar to therapy and can bring a lot of joy, but maintaining it is always a challenge. Like a retro project car, you never know when something might stop working and no matter how many times you crank ‘er up, there’s no response. Alienware’s R9 might just be the solution to this age old problem.

Design

Some say it looks cool, some say it looks hot, we say it looks like an air purifier and a very expensive one at that. Jokes apart, the new Legend Industrial design is subtle and the Lunar light and satin finish just make you want to stare at it for longer. The Alienware branding that runs through the back of the unit commands respect and the black on white design silo lends it that typical ‘Alienware’ look and feel of subtlety. 

The central loop of lighting at the front of the R9 looks like there’s an Alienware m15 that’s been slotted into it, and the airway surrounding it is designed to consume your enemy’s soul. We do wish the airway itself had glowing lights, but unfortunately, it resembles a big black hole. 

The PSU swingarm now gets a stop-anywhere function as well, which is great for when you’re working under the hood and upgrading. It’s the safest integrated system we’ve seen on a desktop; it works like a charm, letting in airflow from the side vent. The entire chassis is designed to facilitate better airflow, which leads to cooler running temperatures and longer hours of gaming.

Performance

With very limited time and the stonking 9th Gen Intel Core i9 9900K with RTX 2080 Super GPU waiting to be unleashed, we directly got to benchmarking – and the R9 topped the charts, scoring a sweet 19,920 in Fire strike, 6267 in Fire Strike Ultra, 11867 in Fire Strike Extreme and 10,890 in Time Spy. That’s quite impressive, but what really wowed us was the gaming performance. With the system overclocked and Forza Horizon 4 loaded up, we got a steady 90fps at 4K resolution with V-Sync off, above 120fps at Full HD and 55-60fps at 4K with V-Sync on and everything set to ‘Ultra’.

Arma 3 did show signs of some jittery lag, but was playable, hitting a constant 45-55fps with everything at ‘Ultra’. Both games are pretty demanding, but the R9 handled them without the thermals going off the charts. It does whine a bit when put through benchmarks, but the fan noise isn’t that intrusive and the new design helps keep it cool and calm.

Software

You handle your battleship with the Alienware Command Centre, which handles everything from your Macros to overclocking. You get factory installed water cooling on the R9, which enables you to bump the CPU speed to a cool 5.2Ghz (4.7Ghz factory settings). There’s manual control as well that allows you to set CPU speed, voltage and voltage offset. Apart from that, you get different audio profiles tuned for game genres and equaliser settings to tune it to your liking. 

The new Command Centre makes setting up Macros super easy; you can make and save different profiles for each game or game mode. The lighting effects are off the charts and Alienware has provided a colour wheel and multiple effects for displaying your chosen colours. There’s also zone-wise lighting available for which individual colours can be set.

Initial Verdict

This thing is a beast alright, but you’re spending money that will buy you a 600cc motorcycle. If you’re a casual gamer, this obviously is overkill for you, but if you’re training to be a professional, this is just the right weapon – Team Liquid uses this, after all, and it’s already made its way to academies that train professionals for tournaments abroad.