The Velocity Micro Edge E2250 is a well-rounded $1,999 midrange performance PC. What it is not is the best gaming PC at this price, as much as its overclocked quad-core chip and SLI-capable motherboard want you to believe otherwise. The overclocked chip especially helps this system's multimedia performance, but its 3D gaming scores fall to those from less expensive systems. The Edge E2250 is certainly a respectable gaming PC, but don't buy it if you're looking to get the most for your gaming dollar. Instead, we recommend the Edge E2250 if you spend a lot of time converting media files and multitasking, or as a upgrade platform for gamers willing to spend a little bit more.
We awarded Dell's XPS 630 an Editors' Choice back in February, and that system remains the primary competition for Velocity Micro among $1,000-to-$2,000 desktops. The Dell is a configurable model sold online, while the Velocity Micro Edge E2250 is a fixed-configuration sold only at Best Buy.
|Velocity Micro Edge E2250||Dell XPS 630|
|CPU||3.2GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (overclocked from 2.66GHz)||2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600|
|Memory||4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX||Two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT|
|Hard drives||750GB, 7,200 rpm||500GB, 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||Dual-layer DVD burner, DVD-ROM drive||Dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit||Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit|
You can reconfigure the Dell so that it matches the Edge E2250 more closely on price and features, but the XPS 630 can't keep up in a few areas. Instead of the Edge E2250's overclocked Core 2 Quad Q9450 quad-core chip, Dell's only quad-core option is Intel's older, slower Core 2 Quad Q6600 running at stock speed. Velocity Micro also has the more recent NForce 750i SLI chipset, and the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. Dell lags on both of those options.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
Of course, our test results reflect the XPS 630 we reviewed, which has less memory than the 4GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM in the Velocity Micro Edge E2250. Between its larger memory allotment and its overclocked, next-generation Intel quad-core chip, the Velocity Micro system plows through all of our application tests, besting the Dell, the $1,999 Uberclok Ion, and others. Photoshop especially benefits from more memory, so it's obvious why the Velocity Micro is a strong performer there, but Cinebench is processor reliant, and shows similarly compelling results.
The Cinebench multiple CPU rendering test in particular puts all four processing cores to work to render a video image. Although the Velocity Micro and the Uberclok Ion each have a quad-core chip with the same 3.2GHz clock speed, the Uberclok's older Core 2 Quad Q6600 proves no match for the Velocity Micro's newer Core 2 Quad Q9450. The result is much faster multicore processing on the Velocity Micro system. This is why the Velocity Micro earns our admiration as one of the best multimedia performers in its class.
|1,920 x 1,200||1,280 x 1,024|
|1,600 x 1,200 (high quality)||1,280 x 1,024 (medium quality)|
We're less enthused about the Edge E2250's gaming performance. It's definitely fast enough to handle every title currently on the market at a high resolution, with the exception of Crysis. That game continues to vex systems that cost twice as much as this one. The real problem is the Velocity Micro's gaming scores relative to the XPS 630. On our most important gaming benchmarks, namely the high resolution Unreal Tournament 3 test and the low-resolution Crysis test, the Dell system that costs about $300 less beats the Edge E2250 by a small but noticeable margin. The reason is likely because the Dell has two 512MB GeForce 8800 GT cards. One of those by itself would be slower than the Velocity's higher-end GeForce 9800 GTX, but in tandem they're faster. From a bang-for-the-buck perspective, the Dell has a clear advantage here, making the Edge E2250 hard to recommend if you're looking for a relatively affordable gaming system.
If the Velocity Micro has an role as a gaming PC, it's for those who are less concerned about price and who are willing to make post-purchase upgrades. Because even though the less expensive Dell beat the Edge E2250 on our gaming tests, it needed two 3D cards to do it. The Velocity system needs only one, and it still has a graphics card slot to spare. If you were to add a second GeForce 9800 GTX card (a $300 upgrade) on top of this already strong foundation, we suspect the Edge E2250 would blow by the highest-end XPS 630 you could configure. You should be careful going much higher than two 9800 GTX cards (we wouldn't try two GeForce 9800 GX2's, for example) as this system has only a 500-watt power supply.
Otherwise, this configuration is relatively typical among midrange PCs. We've always liked Velocity Micro's case design, and while the Edge E2250 does not use the new scaled down chassis that debuted with Velocity's ProMagix E2055, this model does include the same outward-facing hard drive bays that were introduced in that previous system. You probably won't swap drives out often, but when you need to, you'll be glad that Velocity Micro made it easy.
The Edge E2250 also has an 802.11a/b/g wireless adapter. We continue to find Wi-Fi in a full-sized desktop quirky. Since this system is likely not moving, why not just use a wired Ethernet connection that's interference immune and doesn't add to the cost? Still, we suspect some of you will appreciate the Wi-Fi capability, so we can't really find fault with it.
The rest of the features are straightforward, with one surprise. You get a dual-layer DVD burner, a separate DVD-ROM drive, and a media card reader, reflecting what's become the standard roll-out for removable storage options. The motherboard has two spare memory slots, so you can add as much as 8GB of RAM, and the Edge E2250 will recognize all of it, thanks to the 64-bit version of Vista Home Premium. This is actually a key differentiator, because 32-bit Windows recognizes only up to 2.5GB of RAM. As for the other implications of 64-bit Vista, we don't think you have much to worry about.
The biggest concern in the past with going to 64-bit Windows has been driver compatibility, but the various component vendors seem to have embraced 64-bit Vista and we've heard of no trouble. There's little in the way of consumer-level software that will take advantage of a 64-bit software environment (and 32-bit applications are compatible, so no worries there), so the biggest benefit for now is that 64-bit Vista will recognize more RAM. That's worth it in our opinion, and when more 64-bit software comes, all the better.
Supportwise, Velocity Micro's Web site stands out from other desktop vendors for its clear and thorough descriptions of various support issues. It's also recently updated its support site to include a support-ticket-tracking feature that lets you monitor the status of an online help request. The standard warranty for this system covers you for one year of parts and labor, with toll-free phone support available from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturdays. That's in line with the rest of the industry.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell XPS 630
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Q6600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Falcon Northwest FragBox 2
Windows Vista Home Premium; 3.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards; 500GB 7,200 rpm Samsung hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Phenom 9600; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium (tested); Windows XP Professional SP2 (second partition); 3.2GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Velocity Micro Edge E2250
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive