It's always a lucky day for the writer who gets to cover a new Alienware release, because you wouldn't be doing your readers justice without building your own fantasy rig on the retail site and seeing just how high you can jack the price up. So today is especially thrilling, because we got to throw together two $12,000+ workstations without breaking a sweat: the Intel Xeon-powered MJ-12 8550i and AMD Opteron-powered MJ-12 8550a. This being Alienware and all, you can load up either machine with two top of the line chips, creating either a 2.8GHz quad-core Opteron 2220 monster or an outlandish 1.86GHz octo-core Xeon 5320 beast. Add to that 1GB GDDR3 NVIDIA Quadro FX 5500 graphics (or 2 FX 4500's in SLI on the 8550i), 16GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, up to four HDD's (max storage: 3TB; max coolness: 600GB worth of 15,000 RPM drives), and two dual layer burners -- and well sir, you've got yourself quite a workhorse right there. Unfortunately for the average consumer whose games and apps aren't optimized for multi-core processors, these specs wouldn't really translate to blazing fast performance for day to day tasks -- plus both rigs only ship with XP, which might be a dealbreaker in and of itself. Since not everyone is gonna want to blow twelve grand on their email and web surfing box, (much) cheaper configurations are available, with both the "a" and the "i" starting at $2,550.

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Alienware's MJ-12 8550 workstations sport up to eight cores