Velocity Micro ProMagix A50 review: Velocity Micro ProMagix A50

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.6
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good New chassis maintains Velocity Micro's clean system design standards; fast dual-core chip and graphics card will make gamers happy; room for performance upgrades down the road.

The Bad Some much cheaper (and slower) systems offer a few more features; you may miss having a quad-core chip depending on the applications you use.

The Bottom Line Velocity Micro keeps to its performance ethic with this new ProMagix A50 desktop. This PC doesn't have a quad-core chip, nor does it want to serve as the hub of your "digital lifestyle." Instead, it promises fast 3D and overall performance, with room to grow. Dedicated PC gamers will appreciate what this system has to offer.

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Velocity Micro's new, Circuit City-only ProMagix A50 is a $1,999 dual-core, midrange gaming desktop competing against a slew of quad-core, digital media-oriented PCs that cost significantly less. And while we generally advocate quad-core CPUs over their slightly faster dual-core counterparts, Velocity has equipped the A50 with a fast-enough Core 2 Duo chip and a powerful graphics card to make this desktop a compelling deal. It might come with all of the features you expect for the price, but sheer power and the upgradeability will meet the needs of anyone looking for a serious off-the-shelf gaming PC.

The ProMagix A50 comes in a new, all-black case that retains the clean design we've come to expect from Velocity Micro. The only fundamentally different feature is that the front panel USB 2.0 and microphone and headphone jacks now line the outer right edge of the front panel. Before, they hid behind the small front side door. Noticeably (and thankfully) missing is any kind of front-accessible bay for a removable, optional proprietary hard drive a la recent desktops from HP and Gateway.

Also absent from the ProMagix A50 is any significant attempt to dress this system up as a digital media hub. Among other features, HP's newer Pavilion Elite m9040n offers an HDMI output, a TV tuner card, front panel video inputs, and wireless networking capability. For better or for worse, the ProMagix A50 has none of those things. It's certainly capable from a raw encoding and decoding perspective (as our performance charts show), but aside from the dual-layer LightScribe DVD burner, the ProMagix almost feels like a throwback system for its simplicity. Once you look at its specs, you'll realize that what you might miss in features, this system makes up for in performance and upgradeability.

  Velocity Micro ProMagix A50 HP Pavilion Elite m9040n
Price $1,999 $1,190
CPU 3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Motherboard chipset Nvidia NForce 650i SLI Intel G33
Memory 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS
Hard drive (2) 320GB 7,200 rpm (2) 320GB 7,200 rpm
Optical drives 16x dual-layer DVD burner w/LightScribe 16x dual-layer DVD burner w/LightScribe
Operating system Windows Vista Ultimate Windows Vista Home Premium

This comparison gives us a few key items to point out. The HP is much less expensive, but both its processor and its graphics chip, especially, are much slower than those in the ProMagix A50. The HP comes with more RAM, but as you can see from our benchmark tests, that extra memory really didn't help it that much in any of our multimedia tests. The only real advantage that system and the other quad-core desktops have is on our Cinebench multiple CPU test, which takes full advantage of all available CPU cores in a system. On the single-core version of that test, the Velocity Micro leads the pack, and its 3.0GHz dual-core CPU is also fast enough that it's able to at least give a reasonable showing on the multicore test. As more games and applications emerge that can put multiple cores to use, you may find yourself wishing for a quad-core processor sooner than you think. But we expect that this system's raw power will see you through the majority of applications for the foreseeable future.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro ProMagix A50
132 
Apple iMac
133 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro ProMagix A50
134 
Apple iMac
161 

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Gateway GM5632E
1287 
402 
Velocity Micro ProMagix A50
931 
504 
Apple iMac
754 
400 

Quake 4 performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280 x 1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Velocity Micro ProMagix A50
83.3 
Apple iMac
39.2 

As for gaming, the Quake 4 chart speaks for itself. This system dominates the others, which can barely churn out a playable frame rate on a two-year-old game. And while the next-gen PC gaming scene (and all of the DirectX 10 features that implies) is still a little fuzzy in terms of performance (we're still waiting for a full-fledged DX 10 game to test), the ProMagix A50 also offers an extra PCI Express graphics slot, as well as support for Nvidia's dual-card SLI technology. None of those other systems gives you that option. We should also add that if you're really ambitious, this system's NForce 650i SLI chipset also supports Intel quad-core CPUs, so you could upgrade the processor down the road, as well.

While our performance charts demonstrate how the Velocity stacks up to a handful of recent mainstream PCs. Notably absent is Velocity Micro's own quad-core ProMagix E2240, the similarly priced Best Buy exclusive that's basically identical to this one, except with an 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 chip overclocked to 2.7GHz. We're still testing that model to see how the two stack up, although we can say so far that while we don't expect it to surpass this system on the tests that benefit most from raw clock speed, we wouldn't be surprised if the boost from overclocking narrows the performance gap.

As we said earlier, this system isn't bristling with features like other midrange desktops you'll find on store shelves. We have a feeling that gamers who prefer clean systems will actually appreciate this fact. The Velocity system also has the edge over those other systems by going with Windows Vista Ultimate. True, those Ultimate Extras have been a long time coming, but we like Ultimate for its remote desktop capability, which is absent from Vista Home Premium. You'll also find no wireless input devices on this system, or even a remote control. Instead it has simply a basic wired keyboard and gaming mouse.

Finally, Velocity Micro recently won PC Magazine's 2007 Service and Reliability award. That's a coveted award among desktop makers, and is a testament to a company that has always impressed us with its straightforward approach to customer service. The default warranty covers you for one year of parts and labor. Phone coverage is available 24-7 and toll-free. Online you'll also find a variety of well-organized, helpful FAQs and other resources, all written in easy-to-understand terminology.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Apple iMac
Apple OS X; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive;

Gateway GM5632E
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 3GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8500GT graphics card; two 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives

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Where to Buy

Velocity Micro ProMagix A50

Part Number: PROMAGIXA50 Released: Sep. 24, 2007

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 24, 2007
  • Video Memory 320 MB GDDR3 SDRAM
  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS
  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
  • CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 / 3 GHz
  • Monitor Type None.
About The Author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.