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We've already reviewed Velocity Micro's ProMagix A50, which is the dual core, Circuit City version of this four-core Best Buy-only ProMagix E2240 midrange gaming system. The two are similar in price ($1,999), design, and configuration. Really, the only significant difference is the performance of the E2240, which, thanks to its overclocked Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor, comes out ahead. You'll want to avoid both of these system if you're looking for a TV tuner or other multimedia trappings, but any gamer in the market for a fast, clean system with a strong foundation for upgrading will be satisfied if they opt for Velocity's Best Buy rig.
As we noted in the review of the ProMagix A50, the E2240 is a new case design for Velocity Micro, but it maintains the company's straightforward approach to system building. You get very little in the way of front-panel ports or other business. The just-the-basics configuration gets you a media card reader, a dual-layer DVD burner (with LightScribe), and that's about it. There's also no TV tuner, nor wireless-networking capability. Velocity doesn't even include a remote control. Instead, this system is meant mostly for raw computing power, with an emphasis on 3D gaming.
|Velocity Micro ProMagix E2240||Velocity Micro ProMagix A50|
|CPU||2.7GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600||3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850|
|Motherboard chipset||Nvidia NForce 650i SLI||Nvidia NForce 650i SLI|
|Memory||2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM||2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM|
|Graphics||320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS||320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS|
|Hard drive||(2) 320GB 7,200rpm||(2) 320GB 7,200rpm|
|Optical drives||16x dual-layer DVD burner w/LightScribe||16x dual-layer DVD burner w/LightScribe|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Ultimate||Windows Vista Ultimate|
The specs of the ProMagix E2240 show its gaming roots clearly enough. By overclocking the Core 2 Quad Q6600 from 2.4GHz to 2.7GHz, Velocity addresses the common complaint about quad-core chips (that they lose raw speed to faster dual-core CPUs), while preserving the benefit of the added processing threads. And because an ever-growing library of games is coming out that can take advantage of multiple CPU cores, any speed trade-off that's left in favor of dual-core chips is becoming less of an advantage.
Our performance charts bear this out. The only test on which the A50 outpaced the E2240 was on our iTunes test, which remains fairly sensitive to CPU speed. But on memory-intensive Photoshop and multicore-friendly Quake 4, you can see why the quad-core E2240 ends up being the better choice. And it's no surprise that the E2240 beat the A50 on the Cinebench test, which is designed to highlight the benefits of quad-core CPUs. But it's also interesting to see on that test and on the Photoshop test how Velocity Micro's overclocking gives the E2240 a leg up against other quad-core systems, including the HP and the Gateway, which both come with a stock version of the same chip, but with 3GB of RAM.
|Rendering Multiple CPUs||Rendering Single CPU|
|1,280 x 1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)|
The ProMagix E2240's dominant performance helps make up for its higher price compared with those other quad-core systems, although you might rightfully wonder why it costs $800 more than the HP but lacks the multimedia-oriented features. The chief reason is because of the Velocity's higher-end graphics card, which is significantly faster than the HP's budget card. The E2240 (and the A50 as well), also have SLI-capable motherboards, which means you can add another graphics card to this system post purchase, for an ever further boost to 3D performance. The other systems in our charts can't offer that upgrade path.
In the time since this system hit shelves, Nvidia has released its new GeForce 8800 GT 3D card, which promises better performance and a lower price than the 8800 GTS in both of these Velocity systems. You might take that into consideration when shopping in the store, since you can't make prepurchase changes to in-store systems. Velocity Micro also has no plans to revise the current in-store configuration. It would be fair to say that Nvidia's new chips may have this system looking a bit outdated, but the ProMagix E2240 is also a better gamer in this price range than anything else on store shelves, at least, if not online.
In addition to the E2240's SLI-upgrade capabilities, we should acknowledge that Velocity Micro has also finally designed its internal hard drives to face out from the system, rather than in toward the back of the graphics cards. This design makes it much easier to replace or add hard drives, since you don't need to remove other hardware to do it. We've bugged Velocity Micro on this point for a few years, and we're glad it's seen the light. Now if only it could find a way to get those data and power cables situated on the other side of the drive cage so you could just pop the hard drives in and out...
As for software, this Velocity is in-line with the ProMagix A50, in that it comes with no extraneous adware. None of the other Windows systems in this category can make that claim. Both the Velocity Micros also come with Windows Vista Ultimate, which we're fans of because of its remote desktop capabilities (lack of Windows Extras notwithstanding). The only shortcoming might be that Dell has recently raised the bar with bundled software by including the Adobe Elements Studio software, to compete with Apple's iLife '08 digital media apps bundled with all new Macs. We have a feeling it won't be too long before we starting seeing that Adobe suite in other Windows PCs, but as of now, Velocity has nothing along those lines to offer.
Finally, Velocity Micro's support remains in-line with the industry standard. You get one year of parts and labor coverage, along with 24-7 phone support from in-house support staff. We also like their plain-written support Web site, where you'll find an easy to understand, task-based approach to system maintenance and general care.
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Apple OS X; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive;
Dell XPS 420
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card; two 320GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 3GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8500GT graphics card; two 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives
HP Pavilion Elite m9040n
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 3GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS graphics card; two 320GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drives
Velocity Micro ProMagix A50
Windows Vista Ultimate; 3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6850; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card; two 320GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drives
Velocity Micro ProMagix E2240
Windows Vista Ultimate; 2.7GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card; two 320GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drives