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.
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.
|Price as reviewed||$2,799|
|PC CPU||4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K|
|PC Memory||16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz|
|Graphics||8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti|
|Storage||256GB + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
Future upgrades should be easy. The side panel pops off after removing a couple of thumbscrews, and the case interior was tangle-free, with a ton of room for expansion. Even after the HDD/SSD combo included in this version, there were four full-size drive bays open and two addition PCIe slots.
The high-end VR-ready PCs we've tested largely pull from the same small pile of available parts, and these Core i7/980 and 980Ti combos have all performed as expected. All have been very impressive at both application and game benchmarks, with the AVA Direct, Velocity Micro and Falcon Northwest systems -- all using Nvidia 980Ti cards -- being especially good at VR and game tasks. With both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the Raptor ran smoothly, which requires a steady 90 frames per second per eye.
The Raptor has enough configuration options for just about anyone who doesn't feel like building their own PC from scratch, and even on this high-end configuration, there's plenty of room inside the neatly wired interior for expansion, both for graphics cards and extra storage.
If you want something flashier, a great many boutique PC makers will happily sell you tricked-out cases with trippy lighting. But if you want to buy a killer VR-ready desktop, and need it to blend into the family room or your office, it's hard to find something less offensive-looking than the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55.
|AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; 500GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Acer Predator G6||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Alienware X51||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Origin PC Chronos||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); OC 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 250GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Lenovo Ideacentre Y900||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Dell XPS 8900||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Origin PC Eon17-SLX||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
|Velocity Micro Raptor Z55||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 2TB HDD|
|Falcon Northwest Tiki||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5,700rpm|