capsule review

Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition

At a Glance
  • Velocity Micro Vector GX Custom

    PCWorld Rating

    This well-constructed, moderately priced model proves you don’t need to pay much to get a PC with strong performance.

Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition
Photograph: Chris Manners

The Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition proves that a system equipped with Intel's new Core 2 processor doesn't have to be expensive. Priced at just $1099 as of July 13, 2006, it provides a lot of processing power. (The regular-edition Vector GX offers more options, but also costs more.) With a 2.13-GHz Core 2 Duo E6300 processor and 1GB of DDR2-800 RAM, the Vector GX scored a respectable 117 in WorldBench 5. That score is significantly below the marks posted by the more expensive 2.93-GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800-based systems we've tested, but it's an impressive score for a system priced under $1200. The Vector GX is also much faster than most similarly priced value PCs that have appeared on our chart in the past. (The system will go on sale on July 27 at the Velocity Micro Web site.)

Our test system came loaded with an eVGA GeForce 7600GS graphics card carrying 256MB of graphics RAM. Though it didn't burn down the house in our gaming tests, the Vector GX turned in reasonable performance in line with that of comparably priced systems. Its average frame rate in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein tests, run at 1280-by-1024-pixel resolution, was 152. That result represents a 16 percent improvement over the previous top score among value systems on this test.

The Vector GX's midsize black aluminum case is well constructed, with a large window on the side of the case so you can peer inside. The internal components are bathed in a cool blue glow emanating from a cold cathode light situated at the bottom of the case. The system's fans and power supply have embedded blue LEDs that show off the parts to good effect, and the system's cables are neatly tied away out of sight. A panel on the front of the case covers two USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port; six more USB 2.0 ports and a second FireWire port are housed at the rear of the system.

The system can drive a 5.1-channel speaker set: The three audio sockets on the back can be switched between inputs and outputs as required. If you use 5.1-channel set, however, you'll have to fill all three sockets, which means that you can't use the speaker set in combination with an external audio input (such as a CD player or video player) unless you connect the external audio device to the input on the front. In contrast, most systems that use integrated audio provide enough inputs and outputs to let you connect both external devices and speakers at the same time. Digital audio is not an option, because the system lacks digital audio inputs and outputs.

The chassis is easy to open and offers a reasonable amount of expansion room. Two internal 3.5-inch drive bays are vacant, as are one externally accessible 3.5-inch drive bay and two externally accessible 5.25-inch drive bays. Our review system came configured with a single 300GB SATA hard drive, a 16X multiformat DVD burner, and a DVD-ROM drive. The system also has three PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI slots available, but only a single PCI Express x16X slot. The Vector GX is not SLI-capable, however, and can't be upgraded with a second graphics card. It does support higher-performance graphics than the GeForce 7600GS card it comes with--all the way up to an nVidia-based GeForce 7950 GX2, which combines two GPUs.

The 17-inch ViewSonic VA702b LCD monitor that came with our system produced accurate colors, although DVD movies and our test games looked a little dark.

In addition to the individual component manuals, Velocity Micro includes a good system manual that describes basic procedures such as how to add memory or a second hard drive.

The Vector GX Campus Edition is neither the fastest system we've seen nor the cheapest. But it provides excellent value for the money and would be a good pick if you were looking for a fairly powerful system on a budget.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This well-constructed, moderately priced model proves you don’t need to pay much to get a PC with strong performance.

    Pros

    • Good performance for a budget system

    Cons

    • No digital audio outputs
    • LCD screen is a little dark
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