Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition review: Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
MSRP: $999.00

The Good The Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition is one of the fastest general-purpose PCs in its price range.

The Bad The focus on CPU speed means this system doesn't have the most well-rounded feature set.

The Bottom Line The Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition is a great fit for those who need fast, affordable CPU performance and midtower expandability.

Visit for details.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Velocity Micro puts out a competitive back-to-school desktop pretty much every year, and this year's Vector Campus Edition is no exception. Despite its traditional, arguably bland midtower case, this system boasts some of the best performance at its price. Alienware's X51 makes a smaller, faster pure-gaming PC at this price, and you can find other PCs with better all-around features, but if you need a PC with strong CPU performance and decent expandability, the Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition is perhaps the best option under $1,000.

I'm not sure any other vendor out there has stuck to the same basic chassis design as long as Velocity Micro. If it's not particularly exciting, at least the company's squared-off, aluminum case is inoffensive. Velocity Micro also still knows how to build a PC properly, and it continues to set itself apart from mainstream vendors with clean, organized case interiors, with all of the cables neatly routed and cut to fit.

Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition Asus CM6870 HP Pavilion Elite Phoenix h9z
Price $999 $999 $1,049
Motherboard chipset Intel Z77 Intel H77 AMD 970X
CPU 4.3GHz Intel Core i5-3570K (overclocked) 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-3770 2.8GHZ AMD FX-8100
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 SE 3GB Nvidia GT545M 1GB Nvidia GeForce 550 Ti
Hard drives 1TB 7,200rpm 2TB 7,200rpm 1TB 7,200rpm
Optical drive Dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/DVD burner combo Blu-ray/DVD burner combo
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

With so much focus on all-in-one desktops, mainstream desktops like the Vector Campus Edition have become an unheralded category lately. I've seen two other PCs in this category this year, namely from Hewlett-Packard and Asus. Of these three desktops, the Vector Campus Edition offers the best pure computing experience thanks to its overclocked CPU.

That doesn't mean it's the best mainstream desktop overall. The Asus CM6870 has a strong Core i7 CPU, and also offers twice the hard-drive space and a Blu-ray drive for the same price. HP's AMD-based Phoenix is a noncontender because of slow performance and a higher price, but you might reasonably prefer the Asus' more well-rounded feature set to the Velocity Micro's performance play. On the other hand, math, science, or finance majors who need to crunch large sets of numbers, or maybe an art major who needs to render lots of photos, might make use of the Velocity Micro's faster CPU performance.

You can customize the configuration for the Vector Campus Edition if you'd like to make changes. You can add a Blu-ray drive for $55, a 2TB hard drive for $60, or a faster graphics card for an extra $100 or so. You might wish Velocity Micro had veered from its gaming roots and swapped out the lackluster Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 SE graphics card (does Nvidia's "GTX" moniker mean anything anymore, by the way?) for a more universally useful feature like a larger hard drive. But even if you don't like the specifics of this configuration, Velocity Micro at least appears to charge a fair price for what you get here.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

By overclocking its quad-core Core i5-3570K chip, Velocity Micro provides the Vector Campus Edition with some of the best application performance for its price range. It does well on pure, single-threaded workloads, like with audio file encoding, as well as in application environments like Photoshop CS5 that can rely on a mix of raw CPU horsepower, multicore threading, and graphics card computing. The one gap appears to be on pure multithreaded workloads. Here, a true eight-thread Core i7 CPU like that in the Asus system has an advantage. Digital video editors, take note.

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high, 4x AA, 16x AF, DOF, Physx)  

3DMark 11 combined test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry Level (1,680x1,050)  

Best Desktops for 2020

All best desktops

More Best Products

All best products