Whilst Alienware are great at producing high performance
systems for the gaming and home markets as well
as mobile parts these don’t meet the needs
of everyone and that’s where today’s
product comes in. The Alienware MJ-12 is a workstation
system designed for tasks such as 3D modelling,
Photoshop and even video editing. Think of the most
demanding tasks you would throw at any designer
or developer and you pretty much have the work Alienware
have build this system to handle.
Packaging and Bundle
We noted in our review of the Aurora 7500 desktop
system that the box Alienware used was massive,
in-fact you could fit an adult person into it with
plenty of spare room so when expecting the MJ-12
we were on the lookout for a similar size box. When
it arrived though this wasn’t the case and
the system was much more modestly sized (which is
a good thing as much for us as our courier!). Opening
the box (which was black, sturdy cardboard with
the Alienware logo) we found the bundle of extras
Alienware send out.
The bundle includes everything you need really.
As our picture shows you receive a keyboard (Logitech)
and a corded laser mouse (Alienware branded MS mouse)
along with the power cable, user-guide and master
CD. As a nice touch you also get a cool Alienware
sticker and mouse-mat.
Overall this is a good bundle though we found the
drivers on the software disc could have been newer.
The actual components though were very good quality,
especially the mouse which is one of the most comfortable
available and works smoothly with the supplied mouse-mat.
Packaging was also well thought out with the main
workstation suspended in foam and wrapped in polythene
and the bundle boxed off separately.
What becomes clear immediately when unpacking the
workstation is that this is one sturdy piece of
kit. With dimensions of 22in. x 17in. x 7in and
a case made of heavy steel its going to take some
effort to move or knock over the unit, even more
so when you extend the feet which are on the base
of the case. In comparison to other workstations
such as the Dell Precision its not as tall however
is a couple of inches longer.
The front of the case is quite plain though at
the same time suitably stylish with a real industrial
feel provided by the long grills. Also featured
on the front is the Alienware Logo in silver. At
the base of the front is a small hatch which clicks
open to reveal some USB 2.0 and audio sockets.
Opening the door we find the usual set of drives
with a dual layer NEC DVD writer and floppy drive.
You can also see in the picture the USB and audio
ports mentioned above. Between the drive and ports
you can see the practical reason for the grills
on the door. An 8cm intake fan. Power and reset
buttons are located on the right of the front as
are the IDE and power LEDS and door lock. Once of
our small concerns with the design though involves
the locking door mechanism.
Whilst the lock functions as it should due to the
fact that the door is made of plastic (and is therefore
bendable) it’s possible to open the door when
locked, just enough to press the power and reset
buttons. You certainly can’t use any drives
however the point of a locking door should be that
you can’t access any of the functions, not
just some. Repositioning of the lock or making the
door from metal would be ideal in future models.
Turning to the rear of the system we find the unit
isn’t really lacking in connectors though
there are not as many as you would expect on a standard
desktop. The essentials are there such as your PS/2
and USB connectors as well as dual LAN sockets and
a firewire connection taking this system’s
complement up to 2 firewire sockets. As you move
down you can see the audio ports and finally the
only add-in card is the graphics card.
Opening the case is a fairly easy affair, just
remove the screws on the back edge and open it up.
Here’s what you find inside…
… As with all Alienware systems the MJ-12
is very tidy inside, care has been taken to ensure
the cabling is as hidden away as possible which
helps to keep the airflow at a maximum. Speaking
of airflow, as well as the intake fan we mentioned
earlier there is an exhaust fan on the rear of the
case. It’s a 12cm model made by Antech and
is almost completely silent.
The motherboard installed by Alienware is Manufactured
by Tyan and is their K8WE and supports up to 2 Opteron
CPU’s, 16gb of memory and 16x PCIe (2slots
so SLI capable!). The chipset is Nvidia’s
Nforce Professional 2200 and 2050 and Nvidias audio
solution powers the motherboards 5.1 sound. As far
as workstation boards go, Tyan make excellent and
more importantly rock solid products and it’s
good to see Alienware using this brand in their