Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX T1300
Would any self-respecting gamer buy off the shelf from a big-box retailer? The Gamer's Edge DualX T1300 represents Velocity Micro's entry into the electronics retail channel. Available in Best Buy retail outlets and online through BestBuy.com, the $1,991 T1300 is a serious gaming machine with an Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT video card and an AMD Athlon 64 3800+ CPU. It's one of three configurations offered by the retail giant (but the only one you'll see in stores), bringing boutique craftsmanship to off-the-shelf shoppers. Available only online are the more expensive T1400 model, with a dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4400+ processor, and the cheaper T1200, with an Athlon 64 3700+ CPU. The T1300 may appear pricey next to the mainstream systems sitting next to it on the shelf, but for a gaming PC, it's a smart configuration that gives you good bang for your gaming buck.
The Gamer's Edge DualX T1300 is housed in Velocity Micro's Signature LX-W case, a well-built black-aluminum chassis with silver trim, a side-panel window, and four caster wheels. The interior is well organized and well lit, thanks to a blue-cathode lighting kit and blue-lit cooling fans. The front door panel conceals four 5.25-inch drive bays and two 3.5-inch bays. A double-layer DVD burner and a DVD-ROM drive occupy two of the larger bays. The T1300 has a floppy drive as well, but it lacks a memory-card reader--a must for multimedia enthusiasts. Two USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port share space on the lower-front bezel with headphone and microphone jacks. Rear-accessible connections include four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, an Ethernet connection, and jacks for the onboard eight-channel audio, which is disabled because the system comes with a Creative Audigy2 ZS sound card.
The T1300's 2.4GHz Athlon 64 3800+ processor runs on an Asus A8N SLI motherboard with 1GB of DDR400 memory. A 250GB Western Digital Serial ATA (SATA) drive provides adequate storage for most multimedia projects, and the removable drive-bay cage has room for four additional hard drives.
Although the system comes with a single eVGA Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT graphics card, the motherboard is SLI compatible, meaning you can stick an identical 7800 GT card in the second x16 PCIe slot for a dual-card performance boost. This is a do-it-yourself job, since the T1300 is sold as is and is not customizable at the time of sale.
Interestingly for a retail box, the T1300 has a performance-enhanced, or overclocked, graphics card with the core clock bumped up to 480MHz and the memory clock running at 1.15GHz (400MHz and 1GHz are the default settings, respectively). The card gets some extra cooling assistance from Velocity Micro's VideoCool Positive Pressure Airflow System, which is actually a variable-speed dual-fan PCI-card assembly that occupies a slot opposite the graphics card. You won't find such features on other retail PCs. On CNET Labs' BAPCo SysMark 2004 application benchmark, the 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+ CPU came in 5 percent behind the more expensive Gateway FX400XL , which has a dual-core 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830 processor--an impressive feat, considering that the Velocity Micro has a single-core CPU But the DualX T1300 was 14 percent faster than the budget-priced, AMD-based , which uses the less powerful Athlon 64 3500+.
Since the T1300 is a fixed-configuration retail system, you're stuck with the stock CPU and video card. Fortunately, the CPU is fast enough for most users, and the video card is close to top-of-the-line. In CNET's Doom 3 tests, the DualX T1300's GeForce 7800 GT turned in impressive scores, pumping out 23 percent more frames per second than the Gateway FX400XL's GeForce 6800. Gamers who want the convenience of buying at retail will find they have enough 3D power for all the latest games.
The T1300's $1,991 price includes a standard Microsoft Internet keyboard and optical scroll mouse, Windows XP Home, and assorted bundled software, including PowerDVD 5, the burning suite, Ubisoft's Far Cry, and a system-restore CD. A monitor and speakers aren't included, so be prepared to shell out for those or use your existing setup.