12400 SW 134th Ct., Bay 8
Miami, FL 33186
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.