Velocity Micro Edge Z40 review: Velocity Micro Edge Z40

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MSRP: $1,199.00

The Good The Velocity Micro Edge Z40 offers the best gaming performance for the dollar in its class.

The Bad Expanding this particular Edge Z40 build will be tricky, as it has an Nvidia 3D card, but for multiple graphics cards it supports only AMD's CrossFireX standard.

The Bottom Line Like previous Velocity Micro PCs, the Edge Z40 is an outstanding gaming PC and all-around performer for its price. We recommend it to anyone looking for a mainstream gaming desktop.

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

We recently recommended Maingear's Vybe Super Stock for its performance and value as an upper-midrange gaming PC. Looking at the next lower price band, Velocity Micro's $1,199 Edge Z40 makes a strong impression of its own. We found no other boutique or mainstream vendor that offers the same components for the same price. The resulting speed, on top of Velocity Micro's typical build quality, makes this desktop easy to recommend to value-seeking PC gamers.

The Edge Z40 features Velocity Micro's familiar silver GX2-W case. We always appreciate this aluminum chassis' simple, sturdy design, and despite its age, this almost 3-year-old case makes a better visual impression than desktops from vendors with much deeper pockets than Velocity Micro has. You'll need to look elsewhere for amenities such as gadget trays, concealed ports, and front-panel drive bay access, but although we do appreciate those features, we'd willingly trade them for the overall value this system offers.

Velocity Micro Edge Z40 Dell XPS 8300
Price $1,199 $1,615
Motherboard chipset Intel P67 Intel P67
CPU 4.0GHz Intel Core i5-2500K (overclocked) 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
Memory 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5870
Hard drives 1TB 7,200rpm 1.5TB 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo Blu-ray burner
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

You can find other PCs that come closer to the Edge Z40's $1,199 price than the $1,600 Dell XPS 8300, but comparing these two PCs showcases how Velocity Micro has done more with less. The Edge Z40's most notable feature is its Intel Core i5-2500K CPU. That chip lacks the Core i7's Hyper-Threading feature, which means that the Core i5 has only four processing threads to the Core i7's eight. But because Velocity Micro uses the 2500K variant of the Core i5, the chip in the Edge Z480 is overclockable, and Velocity Micro has taken the opportunity to increase the Core i5's performance to 4.0GHz from a stock speed of 3.3GHz. The resulting speed boost helps the Edge Z40 compete well with the Dell on our application speed tests.

With only 4GB of RAM, the Edge Z40 falls short of the XPS 8300's 8GB memory allotment, but Velocity Micro has chosen its graphics card well. At stock speeds, the Edge Z40's Nvidia GeForce 560Ti graphics card comes in a few ticks below the XPS 8300's Radeon HD 5870 card, but with the EVGA Superclocked version of the GeForce 560 Ti, the Edge Z40's graphics card, in conjunction with the overclocked CPU, scores high on our gaming tests as well.

For all of the Edge Z40's overclocked features, we find its $1,199 price just as remarkable. We tried to match this configuration at Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, Origin, Digital Storm, and AVADirect, but weren't able to do so for less than $1,350, and in most cases the price was over $1,500. Simply, this PC is a steal.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Dell XPS 8300 (Intel Core i7-2600, 4GB)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)

Our application tests show some interesting results for the Velocity Micro Edge Z40 in comparison with other systems, as well as with different kinds of software. Our iTunes and Photoshop CS3 tests, for example, tend to favor raw single-core clock speed, and here the Edge Z40 outperforms all but two high-end desktops, one being the Origin Genesis with its Core i7-2600K chip overclocked to 4.7GHz.

Systems do well in our Photoshop CS5 and Cinebench 11.5 tests when, in addition to fast clock speeds, they also have lots of RAM (for Photoshop) and many processing cores (for Cinebench). On these more modern tests, the Dell XPS 8300 is faster than the Velocity Micro, by a small but real margin.

The fact that the $1,199 Edge Z40 trades wins with the $1,600 Dell indicates what a good value it is. Anyone looking for a reasonably priced digital-media-creation or day-to-day performance system will be satisfied with the Edge Z40. We also suspect that upgrading it to 8GB of RAM would provide an appreciable performance boost, and for only an extra $90.

Crysis (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x,1,536 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

3DMark 11 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1,080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z40 (Intel Core i5-2500K)
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7-2600)

If neither the Edge Z40 nor the XPS 8300 establishes itself as the clear winner in our application tests, the Velocity Micro system demonstrates a clear advantage in all of our gaming tests. Regardless of the game, the generation of DirectX, or the display resolution, the Edge Z40 overtakes the Dell on every benchmark. Neither system can match higher-end PCs like the Origin Genesis, and the Edge Z40 will not provide a smooth gameplay experience for more challenging games like the DirectX 11-based Metro 2033 at maximum image quality. We don't demand that capability from a PC in this price range, though. We expect that you won't find any game this PC can't play at more reasonable quality settings, and for its price the Edge Z40 delivers one of the best PC gaming experiences available.

If you want more 3D power from the Velocity Micro system, you can technically add two 3D cards to this PC, but you won't be able to use this configuration's GeForce GTX 560 Ti. The motherboard supports only AMD's CrossFireX multiple graphics card technology, and won't allow two Nvidia cards via SLI. Even if you do add two AMD cards, they will operate at reduced total bandwidth, and you can't use other cards in the system's 1x PCI Express slot. That still leaves you with three spare standard PCI expansion slots, but for those interested in a post-purchase graphics card update, we recommend tweaking this configuration by replacing the Nvidia card with an AMD Radeon.

Other internal upgrade options include adding up to two more memory sticks and four more hard drives. For the latter upgrade, we appreciate that Velocity Micro has stuck with the outward-facing hard-drive bays.

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