Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Intel Core i7-930) review: Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Intel Core i7-930)

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MSRP: $3,499.00

The Good Outstanding gaming and application performance for considerably less than competing desktops; features Nvidia's fast new GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards.

The Bad New 3D cards run superhot and consume a massive amount of power.

The Bottom Line As much as we're impressed by the price-performance of Velocity's high-end Edge Z55 and its pair of GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards, these cards run so hot that we're concerned about their health, as well as their impact on the system itself. Take a risk, and you'll enjoy a fast gaming desktop for significantly less than you'll find from other vendors.

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8.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

The Edge Z55 is particularly noteworthy because it's the first system we've reviewed with Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 480 graphics card. Our review unit has two of them. The GeForce GTX 480, announced today after a long manufacturing delay, finally brings Nvidia's 3D chip family into the DirectX 11-era, joining AMD's Radeon HD 5000-series, which debuted last November. We found that the new cards run very hot and require an inordinate amount of power, but they're also very fast.

To Velocity Micro's credit, this system's $3,499 price tag looks very aggressive next to comparable desktops that come in around $4,999. It also posted outstanding performance for that price, in part thanks to the new GeForce cards. We're reluctant to give this system an Editors' Choice award, because we have serious questions about the amount of heat Nvidia's cards generate, both in terms of the cards' health, as well as that of the system itself. If you don't mind the risk, you'll find a great high-end gaming deal in this configuration.

To help manage the graphics cards' heat, Velocity Micro installed a custom-mounted fan that spans over the top of them, providing additional cooling help. Considering that the cards' mounting brackets become too hot to touch after even a brief gaming session, we're glad the extra fan is there. To remove it, you simply need to undo a pair of screws and disconnect the power wire. Otherwise, the Edge Z55 lives up to our expectations for a Velocity Micro system's build quality, which features clean workmanship throughout.

  Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Origin Genesis (Intel Core i7 920) Falcon Northwest Mach V (Intel Core i7 980X Extreme)
Price $3,499 $4,998 $4,999
Motherboard chipset Intel X58 Intel X58 Intel X58
CPU 4.0GHz Intel Core i7 930 (overclocked) 4.0GHz Intel Core i7 920 (overclocked) 4.183GHz Intel Core i7 980X Extreme (overclocked)
Memory 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 12GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 (2) 2GB ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB ATI Radeon HD 5970
Hard drives 64GB Patriot Torqx solid state hard drive; 1TB Hitachi (2) 80GB Intel X25-M solid state hard drive; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive 80GB Intel X25-M solid state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital
Optical drive Blu-ray burner Blu-ray burner Blu-ray burner
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)

We thought we'd compare the Velocity Micro's features with two systems, rather than use our customary one-to-one comparison. Although both the Falcon Northwest and the Origin system are more expensive than the Edge Z55, they're both reasonable competitors for this system. All feature overclocked (and, more importantly, stable) Intel Core i7 CPUs, but their overall strengths lie in different areas.

The Origin Genesis won an Editors' Choice award, largely on the strength of its build quality and the convenient design of its front-accessible hard-drive bays. It also boasts a heavily overclocked Intel Core i7 920 CPU and a pair of dual-chip, 2GB Radeon HD 5970 graphics cards. The Velocity Micro's case isn't quite as user-friendly, and the Origin boasts a large storage advantage with two 80GB solid-state drives and a 1.5TB storage drive to the Edge Z55's single 64GB SSD and a measly 1TB drive for data. That extra storage and the drive accessibility are the Origin's major features advantages over the Velocity Micro. You get more for your $4,998 with the Origin Genesis, including more room for upgrades and lower power consumption when idle and when you're gaming, but you'd be right to ask whether those things are worth an extra $1,500.

The Falcon Northwest Mach V is a different sort of high-end animal than either the Velocity or the Origin. With an overclocked six-core Intel Core i7 980X and only a single dual-chip Radeon HD 5970, the Falcon is geared more toward top-of-the-line application performance, and only demigod-level gaming power. Velocity Micro offers that chip as well, and it will add an extra $1,000 to the Edge Z55's price tag. Factor in 12GB of RAM in the Falcon versus the Edge Z55's 6GB sticks and the price gap becomes a lot closer. If such a configuration were possible with the Edge Z55, it would enjoy application performance on par with the Mach V, on top of the Velocity Micro's faster gaming speeds highlighted below. Given the thermal and power management required by the pair of GeForce GTX 480's in the Edge Z55, we're not positive Velocity Micro's already cramped chassis could take an overclocked Core i7 980X as well.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Origin Genesis
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Maingear Shift
AVADirect Custom Gaming PC

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