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Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 review: This plain black box fades into the background, putting VR center stage

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The Good The Raptor has a subtle, discreet black design that fades into the background. It offers excellent high-end performance and a separate front panel for connecting VR headsets.

The Bad It's still a little plain-looking for such an expensive PC, and it takes up a ton of space. The front-mounted VR connection panel isn't sturdy enough.

The Bottom Line The Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 is a VR-ready desktop with a very conservative look, but excellent performance and plenty of configuration options.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

For anyone looking to keep their virtual-reality obsession on the down low, a gamer-centric desktop such as the massive tank-like Acer Predator G6 or the small-but-bold Falcon Northwest Tiki isn't going to fool anybody. That's why I was pleased to see an excellent collection of high-end components packed into a very unassuming chassis in the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55.

The minimalist design of this VR-ready PC fades into the background, with a subtle black brushed-metal finish, no flashing lights or crazy angles, and fairly subtle branding. Its only concession to gaming chops are blue-lit fans on the side and back panels, each behind mesh grilles so they cast only a mellow blue glow, and a small Velocity Micro logo on at the bottom of the front panel.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Otherwise, the front faceplate of the tower is feature-free, except for an EVGA VR-ready panel, with one HDMI and two USB ports, allowing you to plug something like an HTC Vive headset into the front of the system, instead of snaking around to the back ports, which may be hard to get to. It's a good idea in theory. But the EVGA panel, which comes bundled with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti graphics card included with this configuration, isn't attached very firmly, and pulled right out of the front drive bay when I tried to use it. In both this system and the AVA Direct Avatar, I switched back to the rear ports right away.

This configuration, with the Nvidia GeForce 980Ti, an Intel Core i7 6700K CPU, and a 1TB HDD/256GB SSD storage combo is priced at $2,799 in the US, which works out to around £1,942 or AU$3,855. Prices and selection for custom PC configurations can vary quickly, and the new Nvidia GeForce 1080 series of cards already costs about the same to add as this very top-end 980Ti card.

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