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

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The gaming scores are no less impressive, and the Edge Z55 and its pair of Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards dominate the competition, topping even the Alienware Area-51 ALX, a former record holder on our Unreal Tournament 3 tests. The Falcon Northwest Mach V had already surpassed that score (and also posted the only 60 frames per second score on our high-resolution Crysis test we've seen to-date), but the Velocity Micro's performance is to be commended, especially since it costs more than $5,000 less than the Alienware. You might not be able to dial up every setting on every game at 30-inch LCD resolutions with the Edge Z55, but for the majority of gamers, this system will provide a smooth, great-looking gaming experience.

We'll also add that before we realized ATI's 3D drivers aren't quite ready for Far Cry 2, the Velocity Micro turned in an impressive 68 frames per second at a very high image-quality setting on our test-in-progress in that game. We can't guarantee similar results without a reliable driver, but we also sat down to play Far Cry 2 at 1,920x1,024 (via a 32-inch LCD TV over an HDMI connection) in DirectX 10 mode at the "Optimal" image quality setting and enjoyed near-flawless gameplay.

The Edge Z55 comes with two HDMI connections, one on each graphics card. You might not aspire to lug a full tower PC next to your television, but Velocity Micro at least gives you the option. More and more LCDs have HDMI inputs as well. You also get a pair of eSATA ports, ensuring fast external hard-drive connections. There's no wireless network adapter, which is fine. The Gigabit Ethernet port should do the job for most of you. You also get the typical array of digital and analog audio jacks, a multitude of USB ports, and the near-ubiquitous media card reader.

Velocity Micro includes no special software on the Edge Z55, except for the 3DMark Vantage benchmark tool, GPU-Z to display graphics card information, and a few other performance-oriented applications. The advanced users more likely to purchase this system may appreciate those program, and they also won't miss the lightweight, but useful, system information and troubleshooting applications that come with more mainstream PCs lately.

The default warranty for this system provides a year of parts-and-labor protection. Velocity Micro does not offer 24-7 phone support, but instead you get a reasonable six days of tech help, from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Velocity Micro promises that its technical support staff is all in-sourced as well. You can also poke around its Web site for a variety of useful FAQs, driver downloads, and other support resources.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Acer Predator
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 2.83GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card; (3) 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drives.

Alienware Area-51 ALX
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit; 4.0GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (overclocked); 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics cards; (2) 160GB 10,000rpm Western Digital hard drives, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.

AVADirect Core 2 DDR3 SLI
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (overclocked); 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card; (2) 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives; 150GB 10,000 rpm Western Digital hard drive.

Gateway FX 6800-01e
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920; 3GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 750GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drive.

Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked); 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards; 750GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive.

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