(Longer bars indicate better performance)
While the Dell's 512MB Radeon HD 4850 graphics card is fast enough for acceptable frame rates on common PC games, it can't quite muster the same performance as the Velocity Micro system. Again, we think the Edge Z5 sneaks ahead because of its faster core CPU speed. In practical terms, the Dell will let you play even demanding 3D games at decent image quality on 19- and 20-inch LCDs. Once you start ramping up to 22- or 24-inch displays, you will likely feel some lag on the Dell--but less so with the Velocity Micro system.
Rounding out the Studio XPS-122B, you get a spare hard-drive slot, rear inputs for an eSATA hard drive, and an optical S/PDIF audio port. Extras such as wireless networking, a TV tuner, a Blu-ray drive, or an HDMI output are all absent. As we said, this system focuses on performance, with few pretentions toward your living room or any other nonstandard usage model.
Dell backs the Studio XPS-122B with its typical year of parts-and-labor warranty coverage and 24-7 toll-free phone support, in keeping with the rest of the industry. Its online help is tied to system-specific IDs for each configuration, which makes tracking down items such as FAQs and drivers easy and productive.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple iMac (20-inch, 2.66GHz, Winter 2009)
Apple OS X 10.5.6; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9400m integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive.
Dell Studio XPS-122B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 640GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920; 3GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz AMD Phenom X4 9850; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 768MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GS graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.
Velocity Micro Edge Z5
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.