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Velocity Micro Edge Z15 review: Velocity Micro Edge Z15

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The Good Fast CPU and 3D-card combo; immaculate build quality; lots of room to upgrade.

The Bad Spare design may bore those looking for a flashy gaming PC; onsite support costs extra.

The Bottom Line Velocity Micro's Edge Z15 represents one of the best deal's we've seen this year in midrange gaming PCs. It has all the power necessary to play current games (even Crysis) at smooth frame rates, and its clean, spacious interior gives you plenty of upgrade room. We recommend this system to any PC gamer looking for a sub-$2,000 desktop.

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8.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Velocity Micro's Edge Z15 midrange gaming desktop is a perfect example of what this mid-sized vendor does best. The sleek, sturdy chassis houses an expertly assembled selection of hardware, and the price and performance compete well with systems from both mainstream vendors and smaller specialty shops. Velocity Micro doesn't attempt anything dramatic as far as system monitoring software or fancy case lighting, but this workmanlike $1,799 PC will deliver fast performance and digital-media applications. Because of its strong performance and value, it's easy to recommend this system to anyone in need of a classic, fast, midrange PC.

The Edge Z15 is just the latest in a succession of surprisingly powerful midrange gaming PCs we've seen this year. The difference in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range in 2008 is that ever since the fast-but-affordable GeForce 8800 GT graphics card emerged at the end of 2007, midrange gaming PCs no longer have to hold back on resolutions and image-quality settings. On all but the most demanding PC titles (Crysis being the typical exception), any respectable $1,500-or-so PC will play anything you can throw at it at high quality.

Of these powerful new systems, the Edge Z15 makes a strong case for itself as the best of its breed. Unlike the Dell's XPS 630, Velocity Micro has kept the Edge Z15's hardware selection current, including the latest graphics cards from AMD's powerful new Radeon 4000-series. And while smaller-scale competitors like Maingear and Falcon Northwest have opted for smaller chassis (perhaps in an attempt to capitalize on the larger trend of scaled-down PCs), the Edge Z15 is an unapologetically full-size midtower PC with all the expansion room that goes along with it.

Maingear's Prelude and Dell's XPS 630 are the most direct competitors to this machine, and because we reviewed the Maingear system more recently, we'll line that model up alongside the Velocity Micro system. The Maingear desktop is a $1,513 PC, which allows roughly $300 for upgrades to catch up to the Velocity system. If you play with the Maingear configurator, however, you'll find that you can't build a Prelude to match the Edge Z15 for the same price.

  Velocity Micro Edge Z15 Maingear Prelude
Price $1,799 $1,513
CPU 3.4GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.5GHz AMD Phenom X4 9850
Motherboard chipset Nvidia NForce 750i SLI AMD 790X
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 3870
Hard drives 750GB, 7,200 rpm 500GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
TV Tuner No Yes

We're particularly impressed that Velocity Micro includes an ambitiously overclocked quad-core chip in this sub-$2,000 PC. Otherwise, most of the Edge Z15's advantages over the Maingear are to be expected due to the Velocity Micro's higher price tag and the fact that we're reviewing it three months after the Maingear system. We have a hunch that within the next six to twelve months, Blu-ray drives, larger memory capacities, and perhaps solid-state hard drives will be commonplace at this price range, but for now, the Velocity Micro system is a strong representation of what to expect from an upper-midrange gaming PC.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Apple iMac

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Apple iMac

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Apple iMac

Our application-benchmark results reveal a few interesting tidbits about the Velocity Micro system. First, while it's not so surprising that the Edge Z15 is faster due to its price, we can commend the size of its performance advantage. Between its overclocked CPU and its 64-bit Windows/4GB memory tandem, the benefits to all kinds of multimedia processing tasks are immediately apparent.

As the Velocity system is faster than those other two less expensive PCs, the even pricier $3,200

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
AVADirect Core 2 SLI DDR3
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Falcon Northwest FragBox 2
Maingear Prelude
Apple iMac

Unreal Tournament 3

1,920 x 1,200  
1,280 x 1,024  
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Maingear Prelude

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1600 x 1200  
1280 x 1024  
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Maingear Prelude

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