By taking the latest AMD processor and Nvidia graphics cards and overclocking them for enhanced performance, Velocity Micro has put together one of the fastest systems we've seen. The $4,380 Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX is not as fast as the Overdrive PC Torque SLI we just reviewed, but it's also $600 cheaper. If you're spending more than $4,000 on a PC, you might not be as cost-conscious as other buyers, but the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX is one of the best deals at the top tier for outstanding performance in its price category.
Our Gamer's Edge DualX test system came housed in Velocity Micro's signature black-and-silver LX-W case, which we've seen before, complete with optional aluminum casters we still think are silly. You can also choose from nine other case designs on Velocity Micro's Web site.
A glance through the side-panel window of the case we received reveals a well-organized interior with neatly tied and tucked cabling throughout. Behind a front-panel door you'll find a double-layer DVD burner, a DVD-ROM drive, and a media-card reader/floppy drive combo. There's also room for two more optical drives and another 3.5-inch drive. Two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and two audio jacks adorn the lower-front bezel, and you'll find four additional USB 2.0 ports and two more FireWire ports around back. With two vacant PCI slots (plus two x1 PCI Express slots), room for two more memory modules (the system supports up to 4GB of DDR RAM), and two available hard drive bays, there's plenty of room for future expansion.
The Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard has audio connections for eight-channel sound, including two S/PDIF connections and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. The onboard audio is disabled because the Gamer's DualX ships with a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card, but it'll cost you more to make good use of it; speakers are not included in the price. Likewise, the package lacks a monitor, which means you're looking at spending about $5,000 (comparable to the price of the Dell XPS 600, for example) for a complete system. A serviceable Microsoft multimedia keyboard and a Microsoft optical scroll mouse are included in the box.
Normally, an Athlon 64 FX-57, AMD's fastest single-core chip, and dual Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX video cards would provide a formidable enough one-two 3D punch; but by increasing the processor's clock from 2.8GHz to 2.87GHz and upping the video card's core clock and memory speeds to 480MHz (from 430MHz) and 1.3GHz (from 1.2GHz), respectively, Velocity Micro significantly ups the ante. Throw in 1GB of PC3700 DDR SDRAM and a pair of 74GB 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor drives configured for RAID 0, and you have a machine that's built for speed. An additional 250GB, 7,200rpm drive provides ample storage for digital files. With no fewer than nine fans cooling the interior, you'd think the system would be quite noisy, but in fact, it is fairly quiet.
With such an impressive mix of fine-tuned components, it's no wonder the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX turned in elite-level scores on CNET Labs' benchmark tests. Systems with dual-core chips, such as the Alienware Aurora 7500, fared better on our SysMark 2004 tests, especially on the Internet-content-creation portion, where it beat the Gamer's Edge DualX by a whopping 22 percent. Still, the Velocity surpasses the Dell XPS 600 and its single-core Intel chip by a marginal amount. Any of these systems will handle standard applications with ease, although you might consider a PC with a dual-core CPU if you need a PC for digital media creation.
As its name suggests, though, the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX is a nearly unsurpassed gaming PC. The only system to beat it on our 3D tests was the Overdrive PC Torque SLI, due to that PC's more aggressive overclocking. Otherwise, the Gamer's Edge DualX is faster than the other high-end PCs by a significant margin, most notably in its Half-Life 2 1,024x768-resolution score, which at 112.5 frames per second (fps) is 16 percent faster than that of the next-closest PC. Since all our comparison systems use the same SLI GeForce 7800 GTX 3D-card configuration, we're inclined to pin the performance difference on Velocity Micro's overclocking and the DualX's AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 CPU. In any case, the Gamer's Edge DualX will devour whatever game you throw at it.
Along with Windows XP Professional, the Gamer's Edge DualX comes with a spare collection of software, including WordPerfect Office 11.0, CyberLink's PowerDVD 5.0 for watching DVDs, Nero's OEM suite of disk-burning software, and Ulead's Digital Creation Suite, with a variety of video- and photo-editing applications. A hardcover owner's portfolio contains generic user and quick-setup guides as well as user manuals for the motherboard and assorted components.
We commend Velocity Micro for its VelocityCare program, which provides a three-year parts-and-labor warranty and one year of onsite service and toll-free telephone support. No other vendor with a $3,500-plus PC, including Dell, offers a standard three-year warranty. Telephone support is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. You can extend onsite and telephone support to two years for $129 or to three years for $199. VelocityCare also provides off-hour and holiday emergency support, promising a return phone call within 15 minutes. For an additional $99, you can purchase a Lifetime Upgrade Plan, which lets you return the system to the factory for additional fine-tuning and discounted component upgrades.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating
|SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating
|SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF
|Doom 3 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF
|Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF
|Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
ABS Ultimate X8
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840; Intel Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB SATA 10,000rpm; Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 400GB SATA 7,200rpm; integrated Nvidia Nforce-4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Alienware Aurora 7500
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS728080PLA380 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID-class controller (RAID 0)
Dell Dimension XPS 600
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS725050KLA360 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce-4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Overdrive PC Torque SLI
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Seagate ST3200826AS 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID-class controller (RAID 0)
Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.87GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one WDC WD250JD-00HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiL3114 SoftRAID 5