We're also happy with the Edge Z30's gaming performance. Its Far Cry 2 scores were not only well above 60 frames per second at both resolutions, but they also came in well ahead those of the Gateway system, by roughly 10 frames per second on both Far Cry 2 tests. You might hit a graphics bottleneck at very high resolutions and image quality settings with the Edge Z30, but otherwise we'd expect this system to provide a smooth gaming experience, regardless of the title.
Unlike the last iteration of the Edge Z30, whose ability to accept a second graphics card changed after a midlife motherboard switch, this version comes to us with only a single 3D card slot. We had sort of gotten used to the idea of adding a second card to a $1,500 or so desktop, but given the price, current performance, and 550-watt power supply in this build, we can't say we really mind the Edge Z30's single card limitation.
You don't get that much room to add other components to the Edge Z30, either. Two of the four RAM slots are open, so you can at least increase the system memory. You also get a single 1x PCI Express card slot free, which lets you add a TV tuner, a sound card, or some other low-intensity expansion card. You could always ditch the Wi-Fi card as well and gain a spare standard PCI slot.
The Edge Z30 offers roughly the same number of external connections. The graphics card gives you DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI outputs, and the motherboard covers your audio needs with 7.1 analog outputs and a single optical S/PDIF jack. For data you get a handful of USB jacks and a single eSATA input. There's also a single FireWire jack, along with a few more USB ports and a pair of analog audio inputs on the side of the case.
|Velocity Micro Edge Z30
||Average watts per hour
|Off (60 percent)
|Sleep (10 percent)
|Idle (25 percent)
|Load (5 percent)
|Annual energy cost
Annual power consumption cost
The Velocity Micro's power consumption lands where we expected it would. It scales almost exactly with its performance compared with that of its competition. With fast CPUs and graphics cards, none of these midrange gaming desktops count as environmentally-friendly, but neither are any of them inordinately power hungry. You'll pay around $5 a month or so to keep the Edge Z30 in electricity.
We're relatively pleased with this PC, but we can't say we're enamored with the changes Velocity Micro has made to its service policies. Its weekday service operates from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pacific time, but it no longer offers Saturday phone support hours. That means West Coast customers in particular have a fairly inconvenient phone support window. You still get one-year parts and labor coverage, lifetime business hour phone support, as well as discretionary onsite support. We understand that running a support operation can be costly for vendors, but given the more-convenient policies from Velocity Micro's competition, it is certainly possible to be more generous.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell Studio XPS SX8100-1986NBC
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770; 1TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Falcon Northwest Talon
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 875K; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480; 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7,200 rpm SATA 3.0 hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5830; 640GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Velocity Micro Edge Z30
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.3GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 875K; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; (2) 500GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive