Alienware Roswell 5000 Matrox RT.X100 Bundle Review
$5,115

Alienware

12400 SW 134th Ct., Bay 8

Miami, FL 33186

(800) ALIENWARE

www.alienware.com

It's big, black, incredibly powerful and it ain’t playing games.

Alienware, best known for its screaming-edge turnkey gaming computers, is

trying to capture the attention of advanced video editors with its new Roswell 5000

bundled system.

Well, they’ve got it.

With Dual 3.2 Intel Xeon processors, two gigabytes of RAM, an Nvidia Quadro

FX 1300 video card supercharged by a Matrox RT.X10 capture/3D accelerator card, separate

240GB hard drives for video and a DVD burner, this machine is ready to handle the most

demanding video projects.

For the more than $5,000 price tag, you get all the above packed into a

full-sized custom tower case with a multi-format card reader, keyboard and an A/V

breakout cable. A monitor and mouse, though, were not included. The system comes with

Windows XP Professional, Adobe Premiere Pro and Matrox MediaTools and Export

preinstalled. Adobe Encore DVD and Audition discs are also included.

Outside the box

Setup was easy. Alienware makes it nearly foolproof with a poster-sized full color

foldout detailing all connections. Even with hooking up and configuring two monitors (up

to four are supported), the total time between taking the Alienware Roswell 5000 out of

the shipping box and first edit was less than ten minutes.

The breakout box A/V connectors extend from the Matrox RT.X10 capture card

and are positioned at the end of a thick cable. Though the design looks cool, the BoB is

probably the weakest part of the system. It would not lay flat on the narrow bench top

we had when we routed it through an access hole to the tower on the floor. The V-shaped

BoB can also clutter a workspace by spawning wires in two directions when fully loaded

with A/V connections.

Workhorse from Outerspace

We had no problems capturing our test material from both analog and DV sources.

Capturing from analog tape is straightforward: plug A/V cables into the BoB, open the

Matrox capture utility and begin manual capture. For our DV footage we used the batch

capture feature within Premiere Pro which worked flawlessly. Finally, we imported

several audio clips from a CD and still images from a digital camera.

Editing is simply a joy. Using two monitors uncluttered our normally crammed

Premiere Pro workspace. Navigation of timelines, resizing of windows and use of editing

tools is incredibly fluid. There was no waiting or lagging. Throughout several days of

testing, only one thing we threw at it locked up or crashed the system: Adobe Encore DVD

1.5 was pretty unstable, but we feel that’s more likely the fault of Adobe’s version 1.x

software. Most of our common editing scenarios with just a few tracks of audio, video

and simple graphics did not require any rendering at all. Those that did rendered

quickly.

To really give the processing performance a test, we vertically stacked three

tracks of video each with decreasing opacity so the system would have to crunch numbers.

On top of that, we added two tracks of text with drop shadows with independent 3D

effects. Lastly, two tracks of video and two tracks of graphics each with alpha channels

were added to the heap. Not only did the real-time preview playback smoothly, but this

complex 10-second, 8-track segment rendered for output to tape at the highest quality

settings in 25 seconds. More common two- or three-track projects render in real or

better than real-time.

For comparison, this same test took 93 seconds on an older single CPU 1.7GHz

AMD based video editing workstation in the test room. Real-time 3D video transitions are

a highly promoted feature of the Matrox card and they do work well. We still believe a

simple cut beats an exploding sphere any day. Using the Matrox MediaExport several

output options are available including analog and DV tape, DVD, VCD, SVCD, and Web.

Geeky Clean
You don't have to be a tech-head to appreciate Alienware's reputation for building

incredibly neat boxes. Every wire and cable has been carefully routed and secured to

areas where they do not inhibit airflow. Even the traditional ribbon cables connected to

the drives have been replaced with streamlined connections.

Not only is the case a very cool Alienware design but it has been painted

with the kind of quality high gloss finish you’d find on a Ferrari. If there is such a

thing as pride in plastic, this is it.

Conclusion
So what are you really paying for? Couldn’t you simply buy the components at discount

online vendors and put it together yourself? Sure. But people that buy these machines

are more interested in creating projects than tweaking computers. Alienware has, as they

describe and we agree, delivered performance, stability and design.

Plus they have taken the time to validate their hardware with the software

they preload onto your system. You most likely won’t need it but the toll free 24/7 tech

support is nice insurance. The only real drawback might be the price. But how much is

your time worth?

The combination of processing power, ample RAM, multiple hard drives and

system optimization makes the Alienware Roswell 5000 a dependable high-performance tool

capable of providing the most real-time previews of nearly any system in its class.
Brian Peterson is a Communications Director with more than 14 years of broadcast video

production experience.

TECH SPECS

Operating System Windows XP

RAM (MB) 2048

Processor Intel Xeon 3.20GHz

Number of Physical Processors 2

Base hard drive Capacity (GB) 240GB (A/V); 80GB (system)

Configurable with RAID Yes

Video Editing Software Included Adobe Premiere Pro

Analog Video Capture Card Included Matrox RT.X10 Flex3 Accelerator

DVD Burner Plextor PX-712A

DVD Authoring Software included Adobe Encore

Multiple Monitor Connections 4

Monitor (s) Included at This Retail Price None

STRENGTHS

  • Top-notch hardware
  • 4-monitor support
  • Nice case

    WEAKNESSES

  • Pricey
  • Overkill for many applications

    Summary
    This is a dream computer for video editors with high standards and deep pockets.

    Brian Peterson is a Communications Director with more than 14 years of broadcast

    video production experience.

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