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Velocity ProMagix PCX review: Velocity ProMagix PCX

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Should you have the need (and the means), you'll be impressed with what was inside our Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX test system: an overclocked Pentium 4 560 processor on Intel's 925X chipset, an overclocked PCI Express Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card, and a massive amount of storage, thanks to the ProMagix PCX's three Serial ATA hard drives. Velocity performs the performance tuning itself and covers the overclocked parts under its standard warranty.

8.2

Velocity ProMagix PCX

The Good

Overclocked parts are stable (and under warranty); unmatched application performance; PCI Express motherboard provides strong base for the future; trio of hard drives.

The Bad

Multitude of cooling fans creates noise; includes second-rate productivity suite.

The Bottom Line

The high-end ProMagix PCX is overkill for most homes and offices, but graphic artists, video hobbyists, and gamers will like what they find under the hood.
Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX
With an embarrassment of multimedia riches, the Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX is better suited (and priced) for serious creative work than general home use. Once we discovered how close our $3,425 test system resembled the AMD-based Vision FX AVD system we reviewed earlier this year, we were confused as to why the ProMagix PCX was listed under Velocity's home and small-business desktop line. Unless you or your business engages in intensive graphics work, you don't need to spend this kind of money on a PC, no matter how cool the system may appear. (Our test system included neither a monitor nor speakers.) Gamers and graphic artists should form a line--while also checking out the Vision FX AVD--but mainstream users will be more than satisfied with a configuration that's priced closer to the ProMagix PCX line's starting price of $1,560.

What does the extra cost of our test system get you? For starters, there's the top-of-the-line Pentium 4 560 processor, which Velocity specially tunes to run at 3.74GHz instead of its default 3.6GHz. Along with 1GB of superfast 533MHz DDR2 memory, two 74GB 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor hard drives (the third is a huge 400GB 7,200rpm drive), and the aforementioned high-end card from Nvidia, our ProMagix PCX test system delivered unparalleled performance. In fact, its SysMark 2004 score of 233 is the highest we've seen to date. Its excellent frame rates on our Unreal Tournament 2003 tests rival those of top gaming systems and underscore the ProMagix PCX's graphics prowess.

Our test system came housed in a full-tower Antec VX case, which provides ample room for future upgrades provided you have space for this hulking beast; it's 21.5 inches tall and nearly 19 inches deep. Beneath a small flip-down panel, there's a FireWire port and two USB 2.0 ports. Smaller towers are available for mainstream users who don't expect to tinker around inside the case. Even with three hard drives and a media-card reader/floppy drive combo unit occupying four 3.5-inch bays, you still have room to add two more drives. You also have two free 5.25-inch bays at your disposal. Movie buffs and videophiles will put the optical drive tandem, a multiformat DVD+/-RW drive and DVD-ROM drive, to good use. One last word about the case: it has two cooling fans (plus one each on the power supply, the graphics card, and the CPU heat sink), which resulted in some background noise during our tests.

Our test system didn't include a monitor or speakers, but Velocity offers a good selection of each on the ProMagix PCX's online configurator. Regardless of the speaker set you choose, audio should sound crisp when you connect the speakers to the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card, which was on our test system.

The software bundle included with our Windows XP Pro-based test system was robust, especially when you consider that Velocity Micro throws in the Ulead Digital Creation Suite at no charge. The suite includes PhotoImpact 8.0 SE for editing your digital photos, VideoStudio 7.0 SE for editing your digital videos, and Ulead Movie Factory 3.0 Suite for creating DVDs. Less exciting are the two bundled games--Tomb Raider and Rainbox 6--and Corel's WordPerfect productivity suite.

Velocity Micro's generous warranty is appropriate for such an expensive system; it covers parts and labor for three years and gives you one full year of onsite service. The company also supplies toll-free, 24/7 phone support. You can add an another year or two of onsite service for more money.

The manuals included with the Velocity Micro Vision FX AVD come in a well-organized binder. In it, there is a manual that primarily discusses troubleshooting tips. Advanced users will find this guide superfluous, but the box also includes individual manuals for everything from the power supply to the motherboard and the sound card. System-restore CDs come with the system. You'll also find helpful information at Velocity Micro's site, including a support e-mail address, manufacturer links, driver downloads, two glossaries, and useful tips on how to optimize your system's performance.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Note: * Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX CPU and graphics card is 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 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  
Note: * Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX CPU and graphics card is 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).

System configurations:

ABS Ultimate M5-64
Windows XP Home; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+; Via K8T880 Pro chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X800XT PE (AGP); two Maxtor 7Y250M0, 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Via Serial ATA RAID controller

Alienware Area-51 Extreme
Windows XP Professional; 3.4GHz Intel P4 Extreme; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (AGP); two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller

Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 8000
Windows XP Home; 3.6GHz Intel P4 560; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia PCX GeForce 5750 (PCIe); WDC WD1600JB-00EVA0 160GB 7,200rpm

Dell Dimension XPS
Windows XP Home; 3.6GHz Intel P4 560; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X800XT PE (PCIe); two Maxtor 6Y160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX
Windows XP Professional; 3.6GHz Intel P4 560; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe) ; two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 400GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

8.2

Velocity ProMagix PCX

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 9Support 8