First of all, I had extensive help in reviewing Alienware's Hivemind 2525 from our Help Desk Administrator Nate Burt and System Administrator Marc MacLaughlin. When I say extensive, I mean that Nate and Marc gleefully whisked away the machine and did the testing, and I wrote down what happened. Thanks again guys. Price: $2,146
I'm sure the rest of the company enjoyed the benefit of the applications they ran on this server instead of taxing our company's current server.
Alienware's single Xeon processor outperformed our not-so-new Dell PowerEdge 2650 dual-processor server "Zeus," surpassing it by 25 percent. Marc and Nate ran the Alienware on a 100-megabyte connection, and it was still faster than Zeus, which runs on a 1 GB connection. Both the Hivemind and Zeus have 2 GB of memory.
The administrators didn't operate the server with the accompanying small business software, but instead ran it with Windows Server 2003. The Hivemind could run our regular backup, as well as handle three of our company's new digital color copiers without a problem.
There were a couple drawbacks, however.
The alarm went off when they pulled out one of the hot-swappable redundant array of independent disks (RAID) drives. The alarm seemed to be buried deep in the machine, but still managed to make an ear-piercing sound.
It took about half a day for the alarm to stop and for the server to find all the hard drives again. Just a warning before you try out the hot-swappable drives: You too may have to reconfigure the RAID -- the group of two or more disk drives for increased performance and fault tolerance.
The only other issue Nate and Marc had was being unable to get the server to find all the hard drives. They reloaded the operating system on it, but the restore DVD (this version of the server came with a CD-RW/DVD combo drive) with the base image for the server to load the drivers didn't work. It may have been a bad copy because it wouldn't load.
Other than those problems, the Hivemind outserved our server hands down, and we really wish we could keep it.
One request: In the next version, could the company add flashing LEDs that shine through the alien's eyes once the cover is lifted? That would make it even more awesome.
Up to two Intel Xeon processors with EM64T technology
800 MHz system bus
Six DIMM sockets supporting up to 12 GB ECC DDR 400 memory
Dual hot-swap, redundant 700-watt power supplies
Supports eight system fans and two power supply fans
Built-in I/O: One serial, two NIC, one SCSI, one SVGA, three USB (one front, two back, two PS/2)
Integrated dual-channel SATA RAID controller
Integrated ATI Rage XL video controller with 8 MB of video memory
Rating: 4 out of 5