The Ars Technica System Guide, spring 2021: Gaming edition – Ars Technica8 min read

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/03/how-to-buy-best-gaming-pc/

Increase the size of/ Our 2 hands-on gaming rigs are the Lenovo Legion 5i (left, presently linked to the monitor) and HP Prophecy 30L (best). Jim Salter

This is the top view of the Alienware Aurora R11.

Jim Salter

The Legion 5i (left) has a much bigger rear exhaust fan, which assists contribute to its normally lower sound level. We likewise appreciate the carrying/lifting niche above that large fan. The Omen (right) has an additional pair of rear-facing USB ports.

Jim Salter

Jim Salter

The Omen (right) is a little nicer to look at from its blank side, which isnt afflicted with the dreadful sticker-itis the Legion (left) suffers from.

If youre planning to develop a new video gaming rig in 2021, we have bad news for you– thats going to be difficult to difficult, due to supply chain constraints imposed by COVID-19. We likewise have good news: while you may not be able to construct a gaming PC, you can almost definitely purchase one.
Dont get us wrong. You can still amass all the parts to construct your own custom-made rig from the ground up if you have sufficient time and patience. But that might take weeks and even months at this moment in 2021. Rather of choosing parts lists, our next System Guide will focus on recent rigs from three of the major pre-built video gaming PC suppliers.
HP and Lenovo supplied us with an Omen 30L and Legion 5i Tower, respectively. We likewise desired to review an Alienware Aurora R11– and although we werent able to get a review system from Dell, Senior Commerce Editor Jeff Dunn happily took a couple of photos and ran some minimal testing on his individual R11.
Even at the huge OEMs, the hardware that is available currently modifications from week to week. But armed with component efficiency charts and a comprehensive review of these systems, you can make your own knowledgeable purchasing choices.
The competitors

Jeff Dunn

The Lenovos matte surface (left) needs a great deal of obsessive damp-rag-wiping to keep pristine, which I plainly failed at even in its very first half hour out of package.

This is Senior Commerce Editor Jeff Dunns personal Alienware Aurora R11.

Jeff Dunn

HP Omen 30L

If bling is your thing, HPs Omen 30L mid-tower is ready to be your preferred rig. HP didnt miss a possibility to glow up any private part of this system, and the result is an ostentatious but pleasing discotheque vibe that simply needs you to include some bass. The HyperX RGB RAM glows its way gently through the rainbow on a loop, the chassis intake fan and Omen diamond logo design on the front throw pearlescent light out into the space, the GPU announces itself with more LEDs, and even the fluid cooling systems radiator has rope LEDs twisted around it.
That level of ostentation isnt to my personal taste, however the total effect is well done. The light from the systems different aspects blends together well, producing a soft, cool glow that feels sci-fi-movie cool.
Next to the Omen 30L, Lenovos Legion 5i seems quite restrained. The Legion 5i has a yellow-tinted glass side panel, but the only light-up component within is a custom-made GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU cap.
I believe that theres a control, someplace, to alter the behavior of that LED-lit Legion logo design. It didnt expose itself to a casual search of the pre-installed Lenovo app in the system tray, and I didnt burn any more time looking for it.
The Alienware Aurora R11 is the plainest system of the lot. The only light-up bling on the R11 is a slim LED trim ring on the front and an “Alienware” branding on the right side; theres no side panel, and the whole exterior shell is plastic, offered in “Dark Side of the Moon” (dark, charcoal gray) or “Lunar Light” (somewhere in between pale gray and pearl). Its likewise the tiniest internally– the R11 is a micro-ATX system, while the other two are full-sized ATX.

HPs Omen 30L is an assortment of disco fever– RAM, fans, the GPU, and anything that didnt actively and intensely defend itself got a glow-up.

Jim Salter.

Still, in our experience, these gamer-targeted rigs are unlikely to under-specify the cooling. That indicates the huge things were looking at here are the look of the system, how noisy it is, and what its like to work on.
Fan noise.
The Legion Tower 5i is usually quieter than the Omen 30L, despite the Omens fluid cooler. Neither machine is loud in typical operation, but the Omens fans have a minor rattly undertone. The Legions fan sound did a far better task of fading imperceptibly into the background– I in fact pushed my ear to the chassis the first time I powered it on to make sure it was booting.

Jim Salter.

Users who prefer the R11s “a little bit more fan now, a lot less fan later on” style tuning can adjust the fan curves in either of the larger systems to match– which would be an extremely excellent idea undoubtedly, if you prepare to use your gaming system for long-term 100 percent CPU output like protein folding, hour-long compilation tasks, and so on
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The Legion 5i is much more subdued than the Omen 30L. The Legion icon on the front does not even light up … or does it?

Have a look at the LED “rope” lighting around the fluid cooler radiator, mounted at the top of the chassis.

( Ars Technica may make settlement for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.).

Jim Salter.

Unlike the HP and Lenovo video gaming rigs, the Aurora R11 has no glass side panel– just a number of hexagonal perforation clusters through its plastic shell.

The Legion 5i has a saffron-tinted glass side panel, and a rather radioactive green light-up for its RTX 2070 Super GPU.

Keep in mind how we stated that Legion 5i logo didnt glow? Ends up we were wrong. When the device gets in Windows sleep mode, that huge icon flashes intense blue, on an approximately six-second cycle. Um. #dislike.

Dell.

( Ars Technica might make payment for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.).

Alienware Aurora R11.

( Ars Technica might earn payment for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.).

Jeff Dunn.

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i.

The HP Omen 30L and Lenovo Legion Tower 5i are mid-tower systems, a little on the large side however nowhere near “full tower” bulk. The Omen is a little bigger, but the Legion sadly makes up for it with an unnecessary whale-tail added onto the back-end for style.
The HP Omen 30L pertained to us with a fluid-cooled Intel i9-10900K CPU and a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. The Lenovo Legion featured a more modest air-cooled Intel i7-10700 and GeForce RTX 2070 Super. Both systems (along with Dells Aurora R10/R11) are at least theoretically configurable to whatever efficiency levels you d like, however once again, COVID-19-constrained supply and need tend to restrict your choices unexpectedly from week to week.
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Jim Salter.

Jim Salter.

The bling. The Omen 30L is the fanciest debutante at the ball in every category except– perhaps– desktop wallpaper.

Jim Salter.

The HP Omen 30L and Lenovo Legion Tower 5i are mid-tower systems, a little on the large side but no place near “complete tower” bulk. The Legion Tower 5i is normally quieter than the Omen 30L, despite the Omens fluid cooler. By spinning up previously and more aggressively than the Omen or Legion, the R11 manages to avoid accumulating adequate thermal buildup to require emergency high speeds on the fans later on. The Omen and Legion, with substantially higher capability, gamble that severe thermal spikes will not last long enough to need increased fan speed and noise. Next to the Omen 30L, Lenovos Legion 5i appears quite restrained.

A complete Cinebench R20 run turns the generally well-behaved Lenovo and HP rigs into raving monsters that appear most likely to raise off the desk under large fan pressure. However both machines remain peaceful until the last 3rd of the Cinebench run and return to– as one Ars reader explained it–” wabbit-hunting peaceful” a couple of seconds later, even while running single-threaded Cinebench. Neither device increase the fan sound at all throughout 3DMark Time Spy tests at 1440p, which are significantly more demanding than many AAA games.
I didnt have an Alienware Aurora R11 on hand, so I can not compare it straight. Toms Guide explained it as hot and loud, which I wouldnt call either the Lenovo or HP rigs. I asked Ars Senior Commerce Editor Jeff Dunn to put his i9-10900K/ RTX 3090 powered Aurora R11 through the exact same tests. During Time Spy, Dunn stated his R11s fan speed increased significantly. He described it as easily audible from four feet away without being “harsh.” It never went into the sort of raving beast mode that the Omen and Legion did during Cinebench R20.
By spinning up earlier and more strongly than the Omen or Legion, the R11 manages to avoid accumulating sufficient thermal buildup to need emergency high speeds on the fans later. The Omen and Legion, with substantially higher capacity, gamble that severe thermal spikes will not last long enough to need increased fan speed and sound.
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The LED ring on the front panel– and the slightly strange general shape– are all the bling you get in the Aurora R11.

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