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Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (February 2012) review: Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (February 2012)

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MSRP: $2,299.00

The Good The Velocity Micro Edge Z55 offers some of the best bang for the buck I've seen in an upper midrange gaming desktop.

The Bad I wouldn't call this desktop overly quiet.

The Bottom Line The Velocity Micro Edge Z55 is a laser-focused gaming PC with a relatively attainable price, and it's an easy system to recommend to enthusiasts.

Visit for details.

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

Last year I fell for the Digital Storm ODE Level 3, an upper midrange gaming PC that still impresses on our performance charts. As much as I still like that system, Velocity Micro's Edge Z55 is my new gaming PC of choice. It's possible this Core i7-2700K-based desktop will look out of date when Intel's Core 3000-series Ivy Bridge chips launch in a few weeks, but multiple vendors have told me that Ivy Bridge isn't as overclockable as Sandy Bridge. If that's the case, expect the 2000-series CPUs will still be available in performance gaming PCs. For those of you shopping for such a desktop, the Edge Z55 is the best deal going for under $2,500.

Velocity Micro hasn't updated its desktops' exterior design in years, but I can't say there's anything particularly wrong with it. The square angles and vented front panel might seem plain-looking, but I'd take Velocity's unobtrusive design over the more garish gaming desktops out there any day.

If this system has one quirk it's that it's noisy. Each of the two graphics cards has its own fan, with a third, standalone fan mounted above them for added airflow. The liquid cooling apparatus attached to the CPU also has a particularly noisy fan. The Edge Z55's full-tower chassis precludes it from fitting into your living room, but if you had any other concerns about its space-appropriateness, be sure to factor in its loud operating noise.

Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Falcon Northwest Mach V Digital Storm ODE Level 3
Price $2,299 $4,995 $2,399
Motherboard chipset Intel X68 Intel X79 Intel P67
CPU 4.9GHz Intel Core i7-2700K (overclocked 4.4GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked) 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked)
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti (448 cores) (3) 1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 (2) Nvidia GeForce GTX 570
Hard drives (2) 60GB Intel SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi 128MB Crucial SSD, 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive 120GB Intel SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo Blu-ray writer/dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/DVD burner combo
Operating system Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Like the Digital Storm ODE Level 3, Velocity Micro's Edge Z55 shoots for the gaming PC middle ground with its mid-$2,000 price tag. Fortunately, that kind of budget gets you a substantial gaming computer that makes few compromises. To Velocity Micro's credit, this Edge Z55 configuration also costs between $100 and $200 less than a similar build from other boutique vendors.

As with most Core i7-2000K-series CPUs, the quad-core 2700K in the Edge Z55 can reliably hit overclocking frequencies approaching 5GHz. That puts it on par with the Digital Storm's Core i7-2600K, and you'll notice that both systems have noticeably higher clock speeds than the more expensive Falcon Northwest Mach V. The Mach V comes with Intel's 3930K CPU, a six-core chip that offers 12 total processing threads via Hyper-Threading.

For a system that costs more than twice as much as the Velocity Micro and the Digital Storm systems, you'll see in our charts that the Mach V can't deliver the same processor performance. Its gaming speed is up to par, but overall it makes me question the value of the six-core 3900K series for gaming and consumer-oriented applications.

For the Velocity's other specs, it matches the Digital Storm system almost part-for-part. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards in the Velocity are actually a slightly slower variant than the GTX 570s in the Digital Storm system. That might account for the Digital Storm's higher price tag, but the 3D performance difference between the two is negligible. The fact that Velocity Micro achieves that parity for $100 less than Digital Storm helps recommend it.

With Nvidia's next-generation GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards already on the market, and Intel's forthcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs due out in a few weeks, you'd be right to ask whether this Edge Z55 build isn't hovering close to obsolescence. I don't think so.

Velocity Micro offers a single GeForce GTX 680 in the Edge Z55 for an extra $85 over the price of the GTX 560 Ti cards. That extra price roughly accounts for the added performance you'd see from a single GTX 680, so the option is there if you want it.

For Ivy Bridge, I can't say what the impact will be until we test it. New platforms always bring unique quirks, but as mentioned earlier, various boutique vendors have already told me that Intel's new CPUs won't overclock as high as the older-generation chips. In that event, you're better off with Intel's older tech.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Core i7-2700K, February 2012)

3DMark 11 combined test (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry Level (1,680x1,050)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Core i7-2700K, February 2012)

Our application tests show how well the soon-to-be-old Core i7-2000-series chips hold up on mainstream applications. The six-core Core i7-3930K in the Falcon Northwest system falls behind the Edge Z55 on all but our Cinebench multithreaded test.

In fairness, the lower CPU clock speed on this Mach V was the result of that review unit's prerelease hardware, and Falcon Northwest and other vendors have since achieved clock speeds similar to those of the 2700K chips without too much trouble. The problem is that the 3930K and its accompanying X79 chipset alone can cost $1,000 more than the Core i7-2700K and a good X68 chipset motherboard.

Our Cinebench results show that Intel's high-end six-core CPU does provide some benefits, but without offering performance enthusiasts higher clock speed potential, its easy to argue that the Core i7-2700K in the Edge Z55 offers significantly better bang for the buck when it comes to consumer-oriented applications.

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

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