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Velocity Raptor Signature Edition Gaming PC review: Velocity Raptor Signature Edition Gaming PC

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The Good One of the fastest PCs we've tested; a PCI Express RAID card helps media encoding performance; typically immaculate Velocity Micro assembly; strong, three-year warranty.

The Bad Feels inordinately expensive (but less than the competition); loud cooling hardware; software could use some more attention.

The Bottom Line We have one major issue with the Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition (the price), and two minor ones (it's loud, for one), but those aside, this is one of the most feature-complete high-end desktops we've reviewed. Its performance is media-creation- and game-minded, and anyone buying it for those or almost any other purposes won't be disappointed.

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8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition

The Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition is the midsize vendor's elite gaming PC. Company founder and CEO Randy Copeland helps build each unit, and they all come with his signature. This system is supposed to represent the best in modern PC hardware. Our review unit's configuration prices at $7,395, which is shockingly high, but also the apparent going rate for boutique-class systems of this caliber. On balance, the Raptor Signature Edition is as fast and as carefully assembled as we expect for an über-PC, but we have a beef with the high-end PC market in general right now, as the prices seem unreasonably high. That issue and the fact that its competition went the extra mile on software are our only significant issues with this PC.

Unlike Alienware, which has revamped its cases recently, Velocity Micro sticks with the tried-and-true Lian Li models throughout its product line. While they don't offer a fancy lighting system like Alienware's new chassis, Velocity Micro's cases retain a bold, sturdy look that we like quite a bit, and they have static internal lighting that adds a nice glow. All Raptor Signature Editions come with an extended-depth case that looks like a full-sized desktop tower turned on its side. The extra depth makes the inside of the PC easier to work with than the Widow PC IX2 SLI, which came to us with a standard midtower enclosure. The inside of the Velocity Micro isn't perfect, as the case's hard-drive cage points the drives toward the rear of the system, not out toward you, which makes the drives much more difficult to remove. We've criticized Velocity Micro for this minor issue in the past, so it's not a surprise, but we wonder how hard it would be for it to get Lian Li to tweak that part of the design in the future.

We should also add that this PC is very loud. The fans attached to the liquid radiator (part of the cooling mechanism) seem to be at fault for this. With the hot-running graphics cards (powered by a 1,000-watt power supply) especially, the thermals in this thing and systems like it require that the cooling hardware work overtime, but compared with the Widow PC and its smaller, more cramped chassis, the Raptor Signature Edition sounds louder than it seems like it should, given its large case.

Similar to the Widow PC IX2 SLI (and a Falcon Northwest Mach V we're currently working on), the Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition came to us with an overclocked Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor, and a pair of 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards. Velocity Micro set its CPU to 3.2GHz, higher than the standard 2.66GHz it typically comes with. Widow PC's 3.34GHz setting on its own quad-core chip helped it in our benchmark tests, but Velocity Micro will take customer requests to dial their chips' settings higher.

Combine the overclocked quad-core processor and the powerful graphics cards with an EVGA-branded nForce 680i motherboard, 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, and a fast and spacious array of four 150GB 10,000rpm hard drives (connected to Velocity Micro's own dedicated RAIDStorm PCI Express controller), and you get a remarkably fast PC suited for anything you want to do with it. It's not, however, the fastest PC around. That award overall goes to Widow PC, at least thus far.

As you can see from our benchmark results, the Raptor Signature Edition surpasses the Widow PC on only two tests, our multitasking test and our lowest resolution F.E.A.R. test. Velocity Micro told us that the RAIDStorm controller helps with media encoding, and since our multitasking test includes a video encoding portion, we're inclined to agree. Video editors, we hope you're listening.

Multitasking text (simultaneous McAfee AntiVirus scan, DivX 6.1 video encode, .CAB file extraction)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

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

Cinebench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

On the rest of our benchmarks, though, it seems that Velocity Micro would have benefited from cranking up the CPU a bit more. As mentioned, it's currently overclocked to 3.2GHz from its stock 2.66GHz setting. Widow PC went higher, dialing its quad-core chip up to 3.34GHz. That little uptick paid off. Velocity Micro says that it will set its CPUs higher if a customer requests it. These scores also make us eager to check out the Falcon Northwest Mach V, which came to us with a quad-core chip clocked to 3.73GHz. Again though, the Velocity Micro is still faster than most folks short of Pixar employees will need; for game play, it will handle anything currently on store shelves.

'Quake 4' performance (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
1,600x1,200 (4x AA, 8xAF)  
1,280x1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Widow PC IX2 SLI
Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition
Alienware Area-51 7500
Polywell Poly i680SLI (quad-core)

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