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

Review Sections

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)  

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x1,600 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Core i7-2700K, February 2012)

The gaming scores are a little more scattered. Suffice it to say that the Velocity Micro, the Digital Storm, and the Falcon Northwest all fare well here. If you have a multimonitor arrangement, the Falcon Northwest and its three graphics cards will serve you best. For single screens, particularly 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution displays, the Mach V will be overkill, and there the Digital Storm and Velocity Micro systems are essentially equivalent. Expect them to play any game from this generation smoothly and with high image quality.

With two double-wide graphics cards, the Edge Z55 doesn't offer an overabundance of card expansion room. You get a 1x PCI Express slot, a standard PCI slot, and, if you're daring, a spare full-length PCI Express slot in between the two 3D cards. Technically you might squeak in a third card, but I wouldn't recommend it with only an 850-watt power supply and an aggressively overclocked CPU. For other expansion you get room to add two more hard drives and two free slots for more system memory.

If its internal expansion room is unsurprising, the external ports on the Velocity's Asus motherboard offer everything you could hope for from the X68 platform. USB 2.0? Check. USB 3.0? Yup. FireWire port? How about two of them? eSATA? Sure. For audio you get S/PDIF and 7.1 analog jacks; for video the graphics cards each offer a pair of DVI outputs and a Mini-HDMI out. The legacy data ports might not be that useful to everyone, but I'd rather have them than not.

The only caveat I'd add here is that Ivy Bridge is supposed to bring Thunderbolt support to the Windows-Intel ecosystem. When that will happen, or if Thunderbolt would be useful in a gaming machine, are both to be determined. If you have a particular need for the fast-access data storage arrays like we've seen aimed at use with Apple computers, you might wait to see what emerges later this year before making any new PC purchase now.

Juice box
Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Average watts per hour
Off (watts) 0.85
Sleep (watts) 1.87
Idle (watts) 139
Load (watts) 529
Raw (annual kWh) 833.61036
Energy Star-compliant No
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $94.61

Annual power consumption cost

Gaming PCs are never shy about their power consumption. The Edge Z55 draws the most power of all of its recent competition, surprisingly more than even the Mach V with its six-core CPU and three graphics cards. It's hard to feel too upset by a power-draw imbalance among PCs like this, but if that's important to you, or you can't stomach the extra $8 on your monthly power bill, the Alienware X51 might be a more appropriate gaming PC for you. Good luck playing Battlefield 3 at 1,920x1080 pixels.

Service and support
Velocity Micro's service and support compare well with what you get from other boutique PC vendors. 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. PT Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT 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.

With the latest, and likely last components from this current generation of Intel CPUs and Nvidia graphics cards, the Velocity Micro Edge Z55 offers a strong gaming configuration that can compete with any other system out there. Particularly if you play games on the 1,920x1,080-pixel display, the Edge Z55 is the leading system in its upper-midrange category.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Core i7-2700K, February 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.9GHz Intel Core i7-2700K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards; (2) 60GB Intel solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Alienware X51 (Core i5-2320, January 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-2320; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 555 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Digital Storm ODE Level 3 (Core i7-2600K, Spring 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Intel solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-3930K, Fall 2011)
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit; 4.4GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (3)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Crucial solid-state hard drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive

Origin Chronos (Core i5-2550, March 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.5GHz Intel Core i5-2550; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics card; 750 GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

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