The $3,720 Velocity Micro ProMagix assembles top-shelf components to make a beautiful and overachieving gaming system that's also appropriate for digital-media enthusiasts. The system's overclocked 3.2EGHz Prescott processor definitely pushes the envelope. Plus, a full complement of quality components, from the dual 74GB 10,000rpm SATA drives to the Nvidia GeForce FX Ultra 5950-based graphics card, justify this system's lofty price. In fact, we found few--if any--problems with the ProMagix. And it has a great paint job, too! The sweet, cherry-red paint job is the first thing you'll notice about the Velocity Micro ProMagix. Look around the side, though, and you'll find a side-panel window that provides a view of the system. The clean internal layout with its neatly bundled cables gives clear access to the system's 12 drive bays (4 front-accessible 5.25-inch, 1 external 3.5-inch, and 7 internal 3.5-inch) and five PCI slots. Two of the 5.25-inch front-accessible bays are occupied, one by a 4X multiformat DVD-RW drive, the other by a 48X DVD/CDRW combo drive, both made by Lite-On. A floppy drive occupies the lone accessible 3.5-inch drive, and three hard drives reside in the internal bays. You'll also see a transparent, blue-tinted bubble over the processor, designed to facilitate cooling and airflow. This functional touch adds another level of aesthetics to the overall package.
The ProMagix doesn't have a front-mounted FireWire port, sadly, but two USB 2.0 ports live there, as well as an LED temperature indicator. On the rear of the system are all of the ports you could ever want, including one FireWire (through the Audigy 2 ZS sound card) and six USB 2.0 ports. There are also parallel and Ethernet inputs and the usual legacy-port layout.
Removing the side panel is easy using the fingertip screws. There are five PCI slots, one of which is blocked by the graphics card; the sound card occupies another. Two 512MB sticks take up two of the four memory banks, but you can easily upgrade to 2GB total. Built around an overclocked 3.2EGHz Intel Prescott Pentium 4 processor, the Velocity Micro ProMagix system comes stocked with stellar components, including a whopping 550-watt power supply. A 19-inch E90fb flat-screen CRT from ViewSonic will make gamers happy, as long as they're indifferent to the lures of LCDs. Powered by a state-of-the-art 256MB eVGA Nvidia GeForce FX Ultra 5950 graphics card, this monitor and its crisp, clear display make 3D gaming and movie viewing a joy.
You'll find a pair of enterprise-class Western Digital 74GB 10,000rpm SATA drives installed in the system in a RAID 0 array. If that's not enough storage (is there ever enough?), look to the additional 200GB, 7,200rpm drive, also from Western Digital. Velocity Micro was thoughtful enough to include not only a Lite-On 4X multiformat recordable DVD drive, but also a 48X DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive from Lite-On. They added a floppy, too, but for maximum usability, a media-card reader is always preferable. This option was not available on the Velocity Micro Web site at press time, but the company is actively working with a supplier to get a card reader and may have resolved the issue by the time you read this.
Creative Labs' impressive Audigy 2 ZS card provides sound for the ProMagix. Unfortunately, the company's accompanying Gigaworks S700 5.1-speaker system, while impressive, does not take full advantage of the sound card's 7.1 audio-channel capability.
The ProMagix runs Windows XP Professional. Velocity Micro also bundles some useful software, including Nero Express and disc-recording applications. You'll also get two games, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. Velocity Micro throws in a Microsoft keyboard and an optical mouse, but we would have appreciated a wireless combo in a system priced just south of $4,000. Application performance
Today, Intel released its next-generation processor, which it developed under the code name Prescott and is rolling out under the Pentium 4 name. To differentiate it from existing P4 processors, Intel has added an E at the end of the processor speed (for example, 3.2EGHz Pentium 4). Built on a 90-nanometer process, Prescott introduces a number of architectural changes when compared with the older Pentium 4 design. The L2 cache is doubled from 512K to 1MB, which should offer improved performance even though the clock speed remains at 3.2GHz. Offsetting the larger cache is a longer pipeline, which can cause delays but also allows Intel to increase the clock speed to 4GHz, which it has stated it will do by the end of the year. In addition, Prescott includes 13 new multimedia instructions, which Intel is calling SSE III.
Considering that the L2 cache was doubled, we expected to see a tad bit of a performance increase just from this addition alone, but as you will see from our review systems' test results, there was either a very small performance gain or none at all. We expect to see performance gains with Prescott when Intel introduces higher clock speeds and applications are released that are able to take advantage of the SSE III instructions.
The Velocity Micro ProMagix is a bit of an anomaly in our comparison systems. The ProMagix is slightly overclocked through some tweaks within the BIOS and therefore performed much faster than our other Prescott systems. Besides the Falcon Northwest Mach V 3.4 Extreme Edition, which uses the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor, the ProMagix performed the best out of all our comparison systems. With a score of 366 on SysMark 2002, it is approximately 8 percent faster than the next-highest performer, the iBuyPower Gamer Extreme PC. Needless to say the ProMagix is designed with gamers in mind, and they will end up salivating over the ProMagix's great performance.
Application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2002, 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 and gaming performance
Velocity Micro also overclocked the graphics card in its ProMagix system. Using Nvidia's GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, Velocity Micro has raised the core speed to 547MHz, up from 500MHz, and kept the memory at 1GHz. We found that even with the overclocking, there wasn't a tremendous boost in performance. We may be able to attribute this to Nvidia's new desire to concentrate drivers on quality rather than performance. Having said that, the ProMagix scored 90fps on our high-end Unreal Tournament 2003 test, and that should be more than adequate for any gamer.
3D gaming performance (in fps) (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: * Denotes system was not tested at this resolution.|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X respectively during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, using Unreal is an excellent way to compare the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
ABS Ultimate M6
Windows XP Professional; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-51; Nvidia Nforce-3 Pro 150; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; two Seagate ST380013AS 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; WinXP Promise FastTrak 376/378 controller
Dell Dimension 8300
Windows XP Home; 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; Maxtor 6Y250M0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Falcon Northwest Mach V 3.4 Extreme Edition
Windows XP Home; 3.4GHz Intel P4 Extreme; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
iBuyPower Gamer Extreme PC
Windows XP Home; 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Velocity Micro ProMagix
Windows XP Home; 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two WDC WD740GD-00FLA0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; WDC WD2000JB-00EVA0 200GB 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller The manuals included with the Velocity Micro ProMagix come in a well-organized binder. Here, you'll find a manual printed by Velocity Micro that deals mainly with troubleshooting tips. Advanced users will find this guide superfluous, but the box also includes individual manuals for everything from the power supply to the motherboard and the sound card. System-restore CDs are included with the system.
Velocity Micro's generous warranty is appropriate for such an expensive system. You get three years parts and labor and one full year of onsite service. The company also provides toll-free, 24/7 support.