Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Intel Core i7-920) review: Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Intel Core i7-920)

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The Good Fast overclocked Intel Core i7 processor; ample memory and graphics card power; provides enough performance to justify its upper midrange price.

The Bad Uses two graphics cards when a single, dual-chip card would have done the same work and allowed more room for upgrades.

The Bottom Line Velocity Micro's Edge Z55 provides a powerful example of the leap ahead in performance afforded by Intel's new Core i7 CPUs. Velocity Micro's own overclocking efforts don't hurt either. Any PC gamer would love to make this upper midrange desktop their own.

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

Review Sections

Velocity Micro's Edge Z55 is the second PC we've seen with Intel's new Core i7 processor. This $2,499 gaming desktop is not quite as ambitious as the $8,000 or so Falcon Northwest Mach V, but thanks to the new chip and a smart configuration, the Edge Z55 holds its own against the elite PCs of just a few months ago. It's also demonstrably faster than a Core i7-based Gateway that costs half as much. In other words, you get your money's worth with this PC. We recommend it for someone who's looking for a fast gaming desktop, but a more expensive system is either out of reach or outside the realm of sanity.

Velocity Micro's case is an exercise in sturdy minimalism. You get no removable hard-drive trays or flashy front panel access doors, but in exchange, you get clean exterior lines, an expertly wired interior, and at least semitasteful blue LED lighting. The pair of double-wide Radeon HD 4870 cards take up a fair amount of room inside the case, and Velocity Micro could have been more efficient here by opting instead for a dual-chip Radeon HD 4870 X2. At least the airflow is as clean as it can be with the given hardware.

The Core i7 920 CPU in this PC is not the fastest of Intel's new processor family, but Velocity has made the most of it through overclocking, ramping it up to 3.0GHz from 2.67GHz out of the box. Along with the CPU comes a new chipset that needs memory in multiples of three, which explains this PC's 6GB of DDR3 SDRAM. Combined with 64-bit Windows Vista, this Edge Z55 is not quite the powerhouse as Falcon Northwest's all-stops-removed Mach V (although Velocity Micro offers a similar top-flight desktop), but it also carves out a name for itself in its upper midrange product group.

  Velocity Micro Edge Z55 Acer Predator
Price $2,499 $2,199
Motherboard chipset Intel X58 Nvidia 780i SLI
CPU 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked) 2.83GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
Memory 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX
Hard drives 750GB, 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive (3) 640GB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit

We line the Edge Z55 up against the higher-end version of the Acer Predator, a fixed configuration gaming PC with a distinct design that came out just about a month ago. We suspect Acer will move to Core i7 eventually, but for now the timing of this product launch is hard to justify, especially as compared with the Velocity Micro system.

The Velocity's CPU in particular helps it surpass the Acer on our performance charts, as you'll see below. We must credit the Acer's nearly 2TB of storage space between three hard drives, but most gamers would rather crunch frames first and store data later, and would gladly trade at least one of those 640GB hard drives for an extra 3D card. Smartly, the Edge Z55 has two.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Gateway FX 6800-01e

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Gateway FX 6800-01e

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)  
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Gateway FX 6800-01e

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Gateway FX 6800-01e
Acer Aspire Predator
Alienware Area-51 ALX

We find many interesting comparisons in our benchmarks results. The fact that the Velocity Micro was able to surpass or at least compare favorably with the $3,200 AVADirect and the $7,700 Alienware on a few tests is probably most impressive (both of those vendors will make the move to Core i7 as well).

The test that stands out the most for us, however, is our Photoshop benchmark. That test is particularly memory sensitive, and with 8GB of RAM and a 2.83GHz CPU, we thought the Acer Predator might give the 6GB, 3.0GHz Velocity Micro a fight. It seems that between the faster CPU and the Core i7's improved memory access, PCs like the Velocity Micro that use Core i7 and Intel's new X58 chipset are able to do more with less.

Unreal Tournament III (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Alienware Area-51 ALX
Gateway FX 6800-01e

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 Z55
Gateway FX 6800-01e

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