Velocity Micro Vector SX-V review: Velocity Micro Vector SX-V

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The Good Powerful, capable configuration; versatile software bundle; clean case design; 19-inch CRT; outstanding price.

The Bad Limited documentation may not help beginners; speaker cabling can be confusing; 19-inch CRTs don't fit just anywhere.

The Bottom Line The Velocity Micro Vector SX-V delivers computing power and capacity with plenty of room for upgrades--more than just a basic box but still at a rock-bottom price.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

Velocity Micro Vector SX-V

Velocity Micro made its bones building fire-breathing, well-crafted systems that deliver top-of-the-line performance, usually at equally high-end prices. With the new budget-minded Velocity Micro Vector SX-V, you get the same expertise and careful assembly in a fast PC made for the masses. Our $1,395 Intel-based Vector SX-V (you can also buy an AMD-based Vector) came with an impressive configuration for its price. A 3.4GHz Pentium 4 550 CPU, 512MB of 400MHz DDR RAM, a 200GB serial ATA hard drive, and a 128MB PCI Express Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT 3D card comprise the core of the PC, essentially making this a perfectly capable midrange system. All of those parts are upgrades from the $799 base model Vector SX-V, as are the 7-in-1 floppy drive with a media reader and the 16x dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive. These latter two components transform the Vector SX-V from a generic performance computer into a well-rounded, digital media-friendly desktop.

You can see the Vector SX-V's capability if you look at our benchmark results. Of similarly configured PCs, the Vector SX-V finished near the top of the pack on overall application performance, so you can be sure that for day-to-day computing, this PC is a sound investment. If you're into gaming, our Unreal Tournament tests show that the Vector SX-V will handle common 3D games adequately, even at higher resolutions. And while it slows down considerably on the more challenging Far Cry test, the Vector SX-V shows that it should even be able to handle newer 3D games, as long as you remain realistic about detail settings.

The attractive, black Vector SX-V tower case also comes in silver or blue. A small hatch on the front covers two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire connector, which, along with the memory card reader, will be convenient for digital photo and video enthusiasts. A larger front-panel door hides the power and reset switches, the two 3.5-inch bays, and the four 5.25-inch bays. Our test configuration used only one of each size drive bay, leaving lots of room for expansion. The back of the case has connections for 7.1-channel speakers; four more USB 2.0 ports; another FireWire port; and Ethernet, keyboard, and mouse inputs.

The spacious and tidy interior of the Velocity Micro Vector SX-V features neatly tied and bundled cables. The GeForce 6600 3D card takes up the single PCI Express expansion slot, leaving two other standard PCI slots still available. Two of the four memory slots also come unoccupied, leaving room to add more later.

Additional components lend themselves well enough to the video- and audio-related demands of multimedia tasks. The 19-inch CTX CRT monitor (a $209 upgrade) created quality images in our tests, with plenty of controls to let you tweak the picture settings. For audio, the midrange Creative Inspire P5800 5.1 speakers (for $45 extra) include a wired control module with a handy headphone jack. The sound output felt rich and immersive, although the nonstandard color coding on the speaker cables makes it challenging to match them to the correct audio jacks. Fortunately, a preinstalled Asus audio utility helps you double-check your speaker connections.

Velocity Micro put Windows XP Home on the Vector SX-V (you can upgrade to XP Pro for an additional $95), accompanied by the Corel Productivity Pack, which includes WordPerfect for word processing and Quattro Pro for spreadsheet work. Far Cry, America's Army: Special Forces, and Battlefield: 1942 make up the solid game bundle, and Ulead's Digital Creation Suite delivers a raft of applications for editing and storing digital photos, video, and burning CDs. You also get CyberLink PowerDVD for watching DVD movies and Sonic My DVD for DVD recording; Velocity Micro even throws in two recordable DVDs to get you started. Printed documentation includes manuals for the motherboard and graphics adapters, but general system information is thin, a bummer for an entry level system. Velocity Micro includes a standard one-year parts and labor warranty with a variety of extended warranty packages available, starting at a reasonable $79 for three years of parts and labor and one year of onsite service.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Note: * Overdrive Torque 64 CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
Note: * Overdrive Torque 64 CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X, respectively, during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal provides an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).

Far Cry Custom Demo Rebellion (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Far Cry 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF  
Far Cry 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
Note: * Overdrive Torque 64 CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

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