Even though it has a sharp new case, we're underwhelmed by Velocity Micro's $1,500 ProMagix E2055 desktop. Yes, it has a fast dual-core Intel processor that challenges the performance of many quad-core-based PCs, at least on certain tests. It doesn't, however, offer much in the gaming department, at least compared with other desktops in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range. If you need fast application performance and aren't overly concerned with 3D power, you might want to give this desktop a look, but the PCs we're used to from Velocity Micro generally do well on both games and day-to-day tasks. Unfortunately, this one only delivers one of the two.
Velocity Micro only sells the ProMagix E2055 at Best Buy, so it's a fixed-configuration PC. It has a few extras, like 802.11g Wi-Fi, but for the $1,500 price it lags behind some of its competition. Compare the Velocity Micro with the $1,619 Dell XPS 630 and you'll see what we mean.
|Velocity Micro ProMagix E2055||Dell XPS 630|
|CPU||3.13Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500||2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600|
|Memory||3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||256MB ATI Radeon HD 3850||(2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT|
|Hard drives||500GB, 7,200rpm||500GB, 7,200 rpm|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner, DVD-ROM drive||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||Gigabit Ethernet||Gigabit Ethernet|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium||Windows Vista Home Premium|
Side-by-side, the two systems look similar, although major differences between each system's CPU and graphics cards stand out. The Velocity Micro's 3.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 is a dual-chip with a faster speed per core than the Dell's quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600. The XPS 630, though, has a pair of faster GeForce 8800 GT 3D graphics cards, for a total of four times as much dedicated graphics memory as the Radeon HD 3850 in the Velocity system. Velocity Micro makes up a little ground with its wireless networking and faster RAM, but we're not convinced that those features or the Velocity Micro's slightly lower price tag are enough to make up the difference.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
Our benchmarks also tell an interesting tale. As you can see from our application tests, the Core 2 Duo E8500 in the ProMagix E2055 is indeed a far superior processor to the Phenom 9600 in the Gateway, at least in single and dual-threaded applications. In other words, for many applications you use on a day-to-day basis, such as iTunes and Photoshop, the Velocity Micro gives you performance appropriate to its price.
You'll notice on the multithreaded Cinebench test, as well as on our multimedia multitasking test, that the Velocity Micro system fell behind the Dell and was tied or slower than Gateway FX7020, both of which use quad-core CPUs. What this means is that on applications that can take advantage of more than two cores, such as some video-editing programs and a handful of games, the Velocity Micro is slower than its competition. We can certainly see wisdom in the stance that because most programs don't really benefit from quad-core yet, you're better off going for a faster dual-core chip. Still, because most computers will last for at least two or three years, we're more inclined to err on the side of future benefits, especially with the price of quad-core chips falling rapidly.
|1,600x1,200 (high quality)||1,280x1,024 (medium quality)|
We have a harder time reconciling the ProMagix E2055's graphics card. We've known for awhile that with Windows Vista and current 3D games, 512MB is the way to go for graphics hardware. It also doesn't help the $1,499 ProMagix E2055 that its Radeon HD 3850 card is a lower-end midrange card, to the upper midrange GeForce 8800 GT in the $1,099 Gateway. The test scores speak for themselves, and it's also worth noting that the higher clock speed on the ProMagix E2055's dual-core CPU can't make up for the weak 3D hardware. The Velocity Micro system will still be able to handle most current 3D games, but it's not as fast as its less expensive competition.
Despite these price-performance issues, there are still some elements of the ProMagix E2055 that we like. We're impressed by the new, smaller midtower case, for example. Typically, we get Velocity PCs in larger full-size chassis, such as the ProMagix E2240 we reviewed at the end of 2007. Because of this smaller design, you sacrifice some expandability. You only get one free PCI slot and no extra graphics card slot. Still, the compact new case is attractive and in keeping with Velocity Micro's history of paying attention to its desktops' aesthetics. We're also glad to see that the hard drive cages face outward, easing the burden of swapping drives.
For the rest of the ProMagix E2055 package, Velocity Micro includes a wired keyboard and a laser gaming mouse, a media card reader, and the typical combination of a dual-layer DVD burner and a standalone DVD-ROM drive. Its Windows Vista desktop is almost entirely free of trialware and other icon clutter, the lone exception being a trial offer for Microsoft Office 2007. We have a hunch that if it were up to Velocity Micro, this icon wouldn't be there, either.
Like all Velocity Micro desktops, the standard warranty package grants you parts and labor coverage for one year. If you want extra coverage, you'll have to negotiate with Best Buy. Good luck with that. You can call Velocity Micro toll-free from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, Monday through Friday, and from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PST on Saturdays. If you can't get 24-7 phone help, those hours seem generous to us. When Velocity is not reachable by phone, you can always try to help yourself through its informative Web site, which offers a broad array of help resources, including 24-7 e-mail-based assistance. The only catch is that to use it, you have to be able to get online in the first place.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell XPS 630
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Q6600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Phenom 9600; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium (tested); Windows XP Professional SP2 (second partition); 3.2GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Velocity Micro ProMagix E2055
Windows Vista Home Premium; 3.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3850 graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive