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Velocity Vector VX review: Velocity Vector VX

Velocity Vector VX

Stephen Bigelow
6 min read
If the Vector VX is an indication of PC maker Velocity Micro's future success, the company's going to do quite well; you should consider one of these systems for your gaming habit or small office. Housed in a silver, full-tower case, our test system came equipped with an Athlon XP 2800+ processor, 512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, a 128MB ATI Radeon 9700 Pro card, and a 120GB Western Digital hard drive with an 8MB cache. The integrated Nvidia SoundStorm audio supports multichannel sound for immersive gaming, and the high-speed 48X/24X/48X CD-RW drive is perfect for backups, photo archiving, and other media-creation and SOHO tasks. And to top it off, Velocity Micro's online system configurator will allow gamers and business users alike the flexibility to tailor the Vector VX to suit their needs while staying within their budget.

Two USB ports and a FireWire port up front.

Network ready with two Ethernet ports.

The Vector VX springs no real design surprises, aside from its dual 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, which let you easily share a broadband connection with other PCs in your home. The case hosts six USB 2.0 ports--four on the rear panel and two on the lower front (hidden by a small cover), accompanied by a single FireWire connector.

You have free bays should you want to add a DVD burner or another hard drive.

Behold: an Asus motherboard based on the Nforce-2 chipset.

Another hinged, silver-plastic panel hides the system's optical drives. Two front-accessible 5.25-inch drive bays and one 3.5-inch bay sit unused; three internal 3.5-inch bays await upgrades. Five PCI slots are also available for future expansion on the Nforce-2-based Asus A7N8X motherboard. The large Antec case can be accessed for upgrades simply by removing two rear thumbscrews and opening a latch on the side panel.

Our Vector VX test system arrived with an Asus A7N8X motherboard based on the Nvidia Nforce-2 chipset. Gamers will be happy to hear that this is one of the first motherboards to support AGP 8X graphics cards, such as the Radeon 9700 Pro. All of the systems we've tested recently with the Radeon 9700 Pro card have been running at the older 4X spec and haven't been able to take advantage of the doubled graphics bandwidth (2.1GB per second) of AGP 8X.
The good news here isn't solely for gamers. Velocity Micro custom-builds all of its PCs and offers the Vector VX with both Intel and AMD processors, giving all users the chance to find the right performance-to-price balance. Our test system boasted AMD's current speed leader, the Athlon XP 2800+, with its speedy 333MHz front-side bus. Equally fast is the 333MHz DDR SDRAM. A single Western Digital WD1200JB 120GB UDMA/100 HDD provides ample storage space, and the bundled 19-inch ViewSonic E90F+SB CRT monitor offers a sharp, clear display for any type of business or gaming application.

A speedy 48X CD-RW is the prize here.

A 19-inch CRT from ViewSonic.

Velocity Micro doesn't offer many optical-drive choices, unfortunately, but we were happy with the pair of Lite On drives found on our test system: a 16X DVD-ROM and a 48X/24X/48X CD-RW. The bundled PowerDVD software uses the system's ample processing power to eliminate the need for a hardware decoder. And for your CD-burning needs, you get Ahead Software's top-notch Nero Burning ROM 5.5.
Our Vector VX test system ran Windows XP Home. The software bundle is rounded out with a free, open-source office suite called OpenOffice 1.01. Office suites from Microsoft and Corel are available as added-cost options.
Velocity Micro recently replaced the Creative Labs Inspire 2600 Slim 2.1 speaker set that came bundled with our test system with the Inspire 2500 model. Both are 60-watt 2.1 surround systems that offer acceptable general-purpose sound, but the Inspire 2500's two satellite speakers are boxier than the 2600 Slim model's. Movie buffs intent on watching DVDs nightly should consider springing for a Sound Blaster sound card and a 5.1-speaker set--look for both options when building your system on Velocity Micro's site.

Application performance
With an AMD Athlon XP 2800+ processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM running at 333MHz, an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card, and a 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive, the Vector VX made an impressive showing in the CNET Labs. In fact, it's one of the faster-performing AMD Athlon systems we've tested so far. Compared to Intel-based systems, its overall application performance is equivalent to that of a 2.53GHz P4, but its office-productivity performance compares favorably with that of a 2.8GHz P4 system.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 Rating  
SysMark2002 Internet Content Creation Rating  
SysMark2002 Office Productivity Rating  
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Athlon XP 2800+, 333MHz DDR SDRAM)
Velocity Vector VX (Athlon XP 2800+, 400MHz DDR SDRAM)
PC Progress X-Theory Platinum (2.53GHz P4, 333MHz DDR SDRAM)
ABS Ultimate M4 (Athlon XP 2700+, 400MHz DDR SDRAM)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (Athlon XP 2700+, 400MHz DDR SDRAM)
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, 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 graphics and gaming performance
Utilizing an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card, the Vector VX will conquer anything thrown at it. Supporting AGP 8X and support for DirectX 9, the Radeon 9700 Pro will satisfy any gamer.
3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark 3DMark 2001 Pro (16-bit color)  
Futuremark 3DMark 2001 Pro (32-bit color)  
Velocity Vector VX (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ABS Ultimate M4 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
PC Progress X-Theory Platinum (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.
3D gaming performance in FPS  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Velocity Vector VX (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
PC Progress X-Theory Platinum (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ABS Ultimate M4 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
ABS Ultimate M4
Windows XP Home; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 2700+; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; two Western Digital WD1200JB-75CRA0 120GB 7,200rpm; Highpoint HPT372A UDMA/ATA133 RAID
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Windows XP Home, 2.25GHz AMD Athlon XP 2800+; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; two IBM IC35L040AVVN07 40GB 7,200rpm; Promise FastTrak TX2000 Ultra ATA/133
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2
Windows XP Home; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 2700+; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB; Western Digital WD800BB-00CAA1 80GB 7,200rpm
PC Progress X-Theory Platinum
Windows XP Home; 2.53GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 128MB; Western Digital WD600BB-00CAA1 60GB 7,200rpm
Velocity Vector VX
Windows XP Home; 2.25GHz AMD Athlon XP 2800+; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; Western Digital WDC WD1200JB-75CRA0 120GB ATA/100 7,200rpm

Like many small vendors, Velocity Micro does not include a printed user manual with the systems it ships, nor is there a PDF manual online. Novices will cling to the one-page Connection Guide, which identifies all of the ports on the back of the CPU. However, Velocity Micro does supply the original CDs for Windows XP and other devices in the system, including the Asus motherboard and ATI card. You'll also receive a set of system-restore discs that let you recover a system that's unbootable due to drive failure, virus attack, or other problems.
Velocity Micro recently extended its standard warranty to three years of parts coverage, while labor is covered for the lifetime of the system; this more than makes up for the lack of a manual. Onsite service isn't an option, but the company will pay for shipping should you find your machine in need of repair. And you'll receive lifetime, toll-free telephone, e-mail, and Web support.

Velocity Vector VX

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 8
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