Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Gaming System

Introduction & Specifications

Unlike the enthusiast system manufacturers, Alienware and VoodooPC, Richmond, Virginia-based Velocity Micro is still an independent, privately held company. In fact, Velocity Micro is doing well enough on its own to have even purchased the enthusiast, boutique system maker, Overdrive PC last year. On top of that, Velocity Micro is one of the few (if only) independently owned, U.S.-based, high-end gaming systems manufacturers that--in addition to selling direct--also sells its systems at Best Buy and Circuit City. That's a claim that even Velocity Micro's competitors, Oregon-based Falcon Northwest, New Jersey-based Maingear, and California-based Vigor Gaming, can't make.

As do most enthusiast system manufacturers, Velocity Micro makes hand-built, high-end gaming rigs using top-of-line components. What Velocity does not do, however, is outsource its support--all non-on-site support, including phone and e-mail-support are manned by Velocity Micro's own in-house techs (for sheer geographic practicalities, on-site support is handled by third-party companies).

Velocity Micro offers a well-rounded catalogue of systems, including notebooks, home theater PCs, as well as more traditional home PCs. But the company's bread and butter are its gaming rigs--its Raptor and Edge series desktops. The Raptor series is the higher-end of the two models, with more hardcore specs, customization, and tweaking. Velocity Micro currently offers two models in the Raptor line, the Raptor Signature Edition (starting at $5,995) and the Raptor Z90 (starting at $3,199). The Edge series is also geared toward enthusiasts, but is focused more on finding a balance between high-end components and affordability. As such, the Edge series doesn't receive the same level of customization and tweaking that that Raptor series does, and its component options might not be quite as bleeding edge. The Edge is available in five models, ranging from the Edge Z5 (starting at $949), and up to the Edge Z55 (starting at $2,099).

We received the highest end model in the Edge series, the Z55. Velocity Micro configured it with a few options, taking the system price up to $2,664. We put the system through the usual level of rigorous HotHardware testing and hands-on evaluation. Read on to see how the Edge Z55 faired.

 Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Gaming System
 System Specifications - As Reviewed

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (2.66GHz , 12MB L2, 1,333MHZ FSB) *

Asus P5N-D nForce 750i SLI, Socket 775
Operating System
Genuine Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit, with Service Pack 1

4096MB Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 Low Latency Extreme Memory with Heat Spreader (2x2048)
Graphics Cards
Dual 512MB EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX in SLI, PCIe 2.0 *

CPU Cooling
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Heatsink, Ultra Quiet Fan, Copper Heat Pipes

On-Board Integrated High Definition 7.1 Channel Sound
Hard Drive
500GB Hitachi 7200rpm 16MB Cache SATA 300 w/ NCQ
Optical Drive 1
Lite-On Blu-ray DVD-ROM Drive
Optical Drive 2
20x Lite On DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner with LightScribe Labeling Technology
Floppy Drive
1.44MB Floppy Drive

LXe-W Black - Velocity Micro Signature Aluminum Case - removable front door, side window
Power Supply
850-Watt Velocity Micro Power Supply - Nvidia SLI Certified

Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI 2.2

External Ports
6 x USB 2.0 ports (2 front, 4 rear)
2 x 1394a Firewire port (1 front, 1 rear)
1 x RJ45 Ethernet (10/100/1000) port
1 x S/PDIF Optical
1 x S/PDIF Coaxial
6x 1/8-inch programmable, jack-detecting audio ports (back)
1 x 1/8-inch headphone port (front)
1 x 1/8-inch stereo line-in (microphone) port
1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
1x Parallel
1x COM

Bundled/Installed Software
CyberLink PowerDVD 7.3 (BD edition)
FutureMark 3DMark Vantage - Velocity Micro Basic Edition
Norton Internet Security 2007
Corel Snapfire Plus SE 1.2
Intervideo DVD Copy 5 (trial)

Warranty and Support
1-year parts and labor, depot repair (upgradeable to 4 years, on-site repair)
1 year phone support, business hours (upgradeable to 4 tears, 24/7 phone support)

Price: $2,664 USD (as configured) *

* Note
: As were about to publish this review, we discovered that Velocity Micro was no longer offering the Edge Z55 with either the 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 processor or Dual 512MB GeForce 9800 GTX graphics cards. Instead, the relative options for the Edge Z55 would be a 2.83GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 CPU and Dual 512MB GeForce 9800 GTX+ (Plus) graphics cards. Not only did the level of components improve, but the price even came down from what was originally $2,954.

The Velocity Micro Z55 we tested was powered by a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 processor, which resides in the Socket 775 of an Nvidia nForce 750i SLI-based Asus P5N-D motherboard. The front-side bus runs at 1,333MHz, while the 4GB of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 low-latency memory runs at 800MHz. The system's graphics are powered by a pair of 512MB EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX cards in SLI mode. Our configuration includes a 500GB Hitachi 7200rpm hard drive, but for those looking to maximize their storage, you can order the system with up to 3TB of hard disk storage space (for an additional $1,030). The system we tested came with two optical drives: a Blu-ray drive and a 20x Dual Layer DVD-/+RW drive. Sound is powered by the 7.1-channel, integrated audio; but upgrade options are available for Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi-based cards (from $45 to $75). The CPU is cooled by a massive heat sink, with copper heat pipes, and air cooled; for another $105 you can opt for liquid cooling the CPU. Also, an additional $35 will add a positive-pressure airflow cooling system for the graphics cards.

The standard warranty covers depot-based, parts and labor for one year, plus tech support during business hours. Various warranty options are available, ranging from 2 to 4 years parts and labor. You can choose between depot-based service or on-site support, and business hours phone support or 24-hour phone support. A four-year warranty with depot service and business hours support costs $299, or $369 for on-site service and 24/7 phone support. Velocity Micro also offers what it calls a "Lifetime Upgrade Plan." Whether your system is under warranty or not, you can send it back to Velocity Micro for "basic interior cleaning, general maintenance, driver and BIOS updates, operating system updates, discounted component hardware upgrades, and standard performance tuning and benchmarking." This service starts at $99 and does not include shipping, out-of-warranty repairs or parts, or the cost of component upgrades.

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