Velocity Micro NoteMagix B50 review: Velocity Micro NoteMagix B50

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.9
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Battery life: 8.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Fast; screaming hard drive; excellent battery life; Secure Digital slot; includes Open Office suite.

The Bad Expensive; no recordable-DVD option; one-year warranty.

The Bottom Line The NoteMagix B50 offers plenty of portable power for work and play. For those who crave ultimate performance, this is your notebook hot rod.

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Review summary

If studio execs needed a notebook for The Fast and the Furious, they might have looked at the Velocity Micro NoteMagix B50 series. As its name implies, this notebook is all about speed. Like a tricked-out race car, the top-of-the-line model that we tested came with a 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, 1GB of DDR RAM, and a 60GB hard drive spinning at an incredible 7,200rpm. This notebook ripped through CNET Labs' tests. It will chew through large spreadsheets and conquer the gaming world with ease. It goes easy on the gas, too, lasting nearly five hours on a single battery charge. However, you're likely be furious when you find out that the model we test-drove costs $2,780, lacks a burnable-DVD option, and comes with only a one-year warranty.

At 12.9 inches wide by 10.7 inches deep by 1.1 inches thick, the NoteMagix B50 series looks like a typical two-spindle mainstream system. At 6.3 pounds, it falls on the low side of the scale, and even with the tiny 12-ounce AC adapter, the system weighs just a tad more than 7 pounds. The chassis gives the appearance of brushed aluminum in places, but the white-plastic lid lock and hinges seem out of place.

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The touchpad and the buttons below the keyboard feel a bit small.
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The wide case allows for a big and comfortable keyboard.

The case allows for a big, 15-inch display and a wide, firm keyboard with full-size 19mm keys. Below the keyboard, however, sits a rather small touchpad and two mouse buttons. The NoteMagix B50 series lacks a recordable-DVD option, but you do get a DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The side-firing speakers sound loud and clear but a bit hollow. Fortunately, you can tweak the audio with the exceptionally flexible sound software, which includes a 10-band graphic equalizer, lots of simulated listening environments, and a karaoke setup.

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The notebook features one FireWire and three USB 2.0 ports for connecting peripherals.

No other portable system matches the NoteMagix B50 series' spec sheet, which reads like a hybrid between a desktop and a portable PC. In addition to a Type II PC Card and Secure Digital flash card reader, the series has one parallel, one FireWire, and three USB 2.0 ports, although the parallel connection feels like extra baggage in this age of USB printers. The system also has audio-in and audio-out plugs but no S/PDIF optical connector for driving a high-end set of speakers. You can, however, hook it up to a TV via its S-Video-out connector or to a monitor using its VGA plug.

The Velocity Micro NoteMagix B50 series offers a dizzying array of configuration options. The basic model starts at $1,730 and comes with a 1.3GHz Pentium M processor, which you can bump all the way up to 1.7GHz, currently the fastest Pentium M. Memory starts at only 256MB with a maximum of 1GB, while the hard drives come in 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB capacities. Velocity Micro is one of the first notebook designers to offer a 60GB hard drive spinning at a sizzling 7,200rpm. With an 8MB data buffer, the drive has a superfast, 4.2-millisecond access time, but it uses only about the same amount of power as a 40GB or a 60GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. Finally, to help keep the notebook cool, the company uses an oversized fan attached to the CPU with highly conductive Arctic Silver Adhesive.

The NoteMagix B50 series features a bright 15-inch display with a native resolution of either 1,400x1,050 or 1,280x1,024. Each system also includes ATI's latest graphics accelerator, the Mobility Radeon 9000 with 64MB of dedicated video memory. For a $30 fee, Velocity Micro will even overclock the graphics engine, which, according to the company, yields about a 7 percent improvement in performance. CNET Labs has not verified this claim.

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The notebook comes with a DVD/CD-RW combo drive but offers no option for a recordable-DVD drive.
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A wireless On/Off switch is located on the left.

The notebook offers a plethora of communication choices. In addition to the pedestrian 56Kbps modem and the Ethernet LAN adapter, the notebook features an integrated 802.11b wireless radio and an IrDA port. A Bluetooth short-range data radio will be a $70 option starting in August.

For the operating system, you can choose between Windows XP Home, XP Professional, or 2000. In addition, you get Ahead Software Nero Express for burning CDs and Open Office suite, which matches Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite app for app but is much smaller and simpler to use. Trading up to Microsoft Office adds $360, while Corel WordPerfect Suite 2002 is just $40. Norton AntiVirus, with a 12-month subscription of updates, will set you back $40. Each notebook comes with a lightly padded carrying case and a year's subscription to Computer Games magazine.

Mobile application performance
Thanks to its plentiful 1GB of DDR RAM and its superfast 7,200rpm hard drive, the Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50 turned in a score of 196--one of the highest mobile-performance scores we've seen from a Pentium M system. In fact, it is the first notebook we've tested with a hard drive spinning at 7,200rpm. But that drive wasn't enough to top the fastest notebook we've tested, the Acer TravelMate 803LCi.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
Acer TravelMate 803LCi
211 
Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
196 
Toshiba Tecra M1
164 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

SysMark2002 performance
The NoteMagix BCL50's superior performance continued when plugged into AC power. It placed first in our small roundup of systems and posted the highest SysMark2002 score of any Pentium M notebook we've tested. Its 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, 1GB of DDR RAM, and 7,200rpm hard drive combined to push the notebook ahead of the competition.

Maximum application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content creation  
SysMark2002 office productivity  
Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
199 
213 
186 
Acer TravelMate 803LCi
186 
199 
174 
Toshiba Tecra M1
179 
197 
162 

To measure maximum notebook application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D graphics performance
The NoteMagix BCL50 captured first place in this test also. With its faster processor and hard drive, the NoteMagix BCL50 beat the Acer TravelMate 803LCi by more than 1,000 points, even though the systems share the same graphics adapter. If you want a system that can crunch bad guys as easily as it crunches numbers, check out the NoteMagix BCL50.

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE  
Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
7,578 
Acer TravelMate 803LCi
6,365 
Toshiba Tecra M1
5,926 

To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop replacement notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 803LCi
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Toshiba Tecra M1
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Trident Video Accelerator Cyber-X P4 32MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
Windows XP Professional; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 1GB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm

The Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50 lasted nearly five hours in battery-life tests, an impressive feat considering it houses a merely average 14.8V, 4,300mAh (64WHr) battery. When it comes to power savings, the efficient Pentium M processor, once again, deserves most of the credit. The NoteMagix BCL50's impressive battery life should be more than enough for mobile users looking to re-create Intel's Centrino ads by wirelessly logging in to the office network from the golf course.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  
Toshiba Tecra M1
305 
Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
296 
Acer TravelMate 803LCi
289 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop replacement notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 803LCi
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Toshiba Tecra M1
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Trident Video Accelerator Cyber-X P4 32MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Velocity Micro NoteMagix BCL50
Windows XP Professional; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 1GB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm

The NoteMagix B50 series comes with a standard one-year warranty, which is what you'll find with most of the competing mainstream notebooks. If the system needs repair, Velocity Micro says that an engineer will arrive at your doorstep within eight working hours, provided you live within 50 miles of a designated service location. Most other companies either offer next-day, onsite service or let you ship the unit back to them. You also get one year of toll-free, 24/7 technical phone support. Upping the warranty to a more realistic three-year policy costs a reasonable $189, although adding a fourth year costs another $90.

The Velocity Micro support Web site received mixed reviews. The Velocity Resource Hub thoughtfully links to the makers of all of the notebook's major components, from CPUs and hard drives to memory and motherboards. On the downside, you'll need to figure out what components your system has, then nose around for help on a piecemeal basis. A general FAQ section deals with questions about the company, shipping, and the manufacturing process, but it offers no information about actual products. If you're really stuck, you can e-mail tech support; the company says that it will respond to your inquiry within 24 business hours.

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Where to Buy

Velocity Micro NoteMagix B50

Part Number: B50 Released: Jun 30, 2003
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun 30, 2003
  • Weight 6.3 lbs
  • Installed Size 256 MB
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