Hands-On: Alienware Area-51 ALX PC

One of the hardest things about being a techy is that there are so many amazing products out there that are just simply out of reach. We drool over some amazing stuff, knowing that we’ll never touch one… OK, so we’ll never even see one in person! For those of who deal with small church technology, “out of reach” is way more prevalent than we’d like. Sometimes though, we do get lucky!

I work as an architectural designer and 3D artist for an architectural and engineering firm. For the past few years I have been trudging along with a painfully inadequate Dell desktop. A few days ago, my amazing bosses decided to bless me with a new rig for my 3d and design work. It’s an Alienware Area-51 ALX PC. This box is amazing! It is blazing fast and has an unsurpassed cool factor.

Right before the box arrived I ran a rendering of a building on the old box. It took just over 22 minutes to render a 3072 x 1728 still. After I got all the software installed on the new box, I re-ran the exact same render, but got a new time of 3 minutes and 38 seconds, just under 4 minutes… that’s over an 80% give-back in render time. In fact, at 3:38 that’s about how long my 800 x 450 low-res test renders. Not only will I save a lot of time on the final shot, I’ll be able to do more test renders to get the shot perfect.

Doing the math, on the new machine can render 1 second of high def video (24 frames) in about 38 minutes. Doing the match on the old machine yields 206 minutes for the same 24 frames – that’s almost 3.5 hours! Fast, fast, fast!

Check out the video for a hands-on look at this amazing piece of equipment.

Here’s the load-out on the box:

Processor —- Intel® Core™ i7 980x Extreme Six Core Processor (3.33GHz, 12MB Cache)
OS —- Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium Professional, 64bit, English
Heat Mgmt —- Alienware™ High-Performance Liquid Cooling
Memory —- 12GB DDR3 1333MHz (3x 4GB) Tri Channel Memory
Video —- Dual 2GB GDDR5 ATI Radeon™ HD 5970 CrossfireX™ Enabled
Hard Drive —- 1.2TB RAID 0 (2x 640GB SATA-II, 7,200 RPM, 16MB Cache HDDs) ***
Sound —- Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Optical —- Single Drive: Blu-ray Disc (BD) Burner (Writes to DVD/CD/BD)
Gear —- Alienware Area-51 ALX + TactX™ Headset
KB —- Alienware TactX™ Keyboard
Mouse —- Alienware TactX™ Mouse

*** I got the slower drives because I have had terrible luck with the 10k drives – they seem to break way too soon. Besides, with 12GB of memory, those drive’s won’t run much!

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