Alienware Alpha vs. Aurora vs. Area 51: What Should You Buy?

There isn't a single gaming desktop that's perfect for everyone, and few PC makers are as keenly aware of this as Alienware is. The company's trio of flagship gaming PCs cover all the bases, from folks who want to enjoy console-style gaming in their living room to enthusiasts who want to load up a massive tower with three graphics cards.

If you're wondering which Alienware desktop is right for you, here's how the Alpha, Aurora and Area-51 all stack up.

Gaming PCs Compared: Alienware Alpha vs. Aurora vs. Area 51

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Alienware AlphaAlienware AuroraAlienware Area-51
Best ForLiving Room GamingVR and UpgradingHardcore Gamers
Starting Price$449 Dell$799 Dell$1699 Dell
Processor (Our Pick)Intel Core i3-4170T (Intel Core i5-6400T)Intel Core i5-7400Intel Core i7-6800K
Graphics (Our Pick)Custom Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU (Nvidia GeForce GTX 960)AMD RX 460 (AMD RX 480)Nvidia GTX 950 (Nvidia GTX 1080)
RAM (Our Pick)4GB (8GB)8GB8GB
Storage (Our Pick)500GB SATA drive (256GB SSD)2TB hard drive (1TB hard drive)2TB SATA drive (256GB SSD + 8TB hard drive)
VR-ReadyNoYes (select configurations)Yes (select configurations)
Special FeaturesHiveMind Interface, customizable lightingTool-free upgradability, customizable lightingAirflow-optimized chassis, customizable lighting

Alienware Alpha - Best For Living Room Gaming

If you want to reap the benefits of PC gaming while still enjoying the simplicity of a console, the Alienware Alpha is for you. This tiny gaming box is much smaller than a PS4 or Xbox One and will look great under your TV, and supports up to an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 960 graphics for running the latest PC games smoothly. The Alpha doesn't support VR out of the box, but you can connect it to a $199 Alienware Graphics Amplifier and your GPU of choice in order to enjoy virtual reality and 4K gaming.

One of the Alpha's key features is its HiveMind interface, which lets you access your game libraries from places such as Steam, Origin and GOG as well as entertainment apps like Netflix and Hulu, all within a console-style UI that's easy to navigate with a controller. You can also use the Alpha as a regular old Windows 10 PC, making it a great option for folks who simply don't have a ton of desk space.

We recommend: $749 configuration (Intel Core i5-6400T, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Nvidia GTX 960)

Alienware Aurora - Best for VR and Upgrading

Versatile, VR-ready and incredibly user friendly, the Alienware Aurora is our favorite overall gaming PC for good reason. This compact and attractive tower is a perfect middle ground for those getting serious about PC gaming, with an inviting $799 starting price, a $999 VR-ready config and plenty of higher-end options for folks who want to utilize the latest Core i7 processors and up to two high-end graphics cards.

Where the Aurora really shines is upgradability, even for gamers who shiver at the thought of tinkering with a PC. This machine is a breeze to open up, and its unique internal design allows you to replace almost every key component -- including the graphics card -- without having to bust out a screwdriver. With strong specs out of the box and a future-proof design, the Aurora is a great mid-range investment that will hold up for years to come.

We recommend: $999 configuration (Intel Core i5-7400, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, AMD RX 480, VR Ready)

Alienware Area-51 - Best For Hardcore Gaming

If your dream gaming setup consists of multiple monitors and a beast of an eye-catching tower,  the Area-51 is designed for you. This massive gaming monster can handle the latest blazing fast Core i7 CPUs and up to three graphics cards, allowing you to run games in 4K across multiple displays and game in VR without a sweat.

The Area-51's towering, backlit design isn't just for show. This mega-PC's unique "Triad" chassis is designed to keep it ergonomic despite its huge size, as you can easily pivot the machine to reach the rear ports or even carry it thanks to its conveniently placed handles. This triangular design also keeps the PC cool, leaving lots of room for hot air to get out. If you've got the space (and cash) for it, the Area-51 represents the highest-end gaming power Alienware has to offer.

We recommend: $2,749 configuration (Intel Core i7-6800K, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 8TB hard drive, Nvidia GTX 1080)

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.