For gaming, the Velocity Micro system invites no caveats. It outperformed the Gateway and Acer systems on every test, and its 91 frames-per-second score on our 1,920x1,080-resolution Far Cry 2 test suggests that even at high resolutions you should be able to play any PC game out there at high image quality. You might see some lag on the most demanding titles if you get into 3D effects and high resolutions on multiple monitors. If that's your goal, adding a second GeForce GTX 460 card for another $200 or so should provide the solution.
Velocity Micro has sent us other lower-cost gaming PCs that support multiple graphics cards, but we were dismayed to find that one of the last ones we reviewed switched to a single-card motherboard shortly after we reviewed it. That can happen, especially to smaller vendors, but we're heartened this time around in that Velocity Micro is still offering the same motherboard a month or so into this PC's availability on its Web site. Velocity Micro says despite the "Holiday Edition" name, this configuration will be available through January 1, and it may be extended to a "Winter Edition" afterward if demand is high enough.
Aside from the ability to accept a second graphics card, the Vector Holiday Edition also offers a fair number of other internal expansion possibilities. The system already comes with 4GB of RAM by way of two 2GB memory sticks, but you also get room for two more, allowing you to double the memory easily. You also get two 1x PCI Express card slots, as well as two standard PCI slots. One has a wireless networking card in it, and you'd need to move it to add a second graphics card due to slot overlap, but either way we're impressed by the extent to which this PC is both feature-rich and expandable.
That diversity extends to the outside of the Velocity Micro as well. You get the usual array of USB 2.0 jacks, but the motherboard also provides two USB 3.0 inputs, as well as FireWire and eSATA jacks. That's should leave you free to connect the vast majority of external devices. Velocity Micro also provides a pair of PS/2 mouse and keyboard inputs for your old school input devices. Audio jacks come by way of an S/PDIF optical output, as well as jacks for 7.1 analog output. For video, the graphics card includes two DVI ports, as well as a Mini-HDMI output.
|Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition||Average watts per hour|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$67.99|
Given its overclocked CPU, we're not surprised to find the Velocity Micro consumes more power than either the Acer or the Gateway. At least you get the extra performance. Expect to see a not-insignificant $5.67 or so extra each month on your power bill for this PC.
Velocity Micro's service and support compares well with that of other boutique vendors. Like Falcon Northwest and others, Velocity Micro relies exclusively on in-house phone support technicians, and though it doesn't offer 24-7 phone support, you can get in touch from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, which is a pretty fair window. The warranty on the system covers parts and labor for a year, as well as one year of depot repair service. And Velocity's Web site has all kinds of useful support resources.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Digital Storm Special Ops
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.07GHz Intel Core i7 950; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards; 80GB Corsair Drive Force solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit; 3.87GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 960; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards; 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive
Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.62GHz Intel Core i5 760; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 768GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive