capsule review

Velocity Micro Edge Z5 Value Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Velocity Micro Edge Z5

    PCWorld Rating

The Velocity Micro Edge Z5's price and performance throw it into direct competition with Dell's Studio XPS 435. Though some value desktops are as fast (or faster) as these two, none of the speedy machines beat the Edge Z5 and the XPS 435 in price ($999, as of August 23, 2009).

Both the Edge Z5 and the Studio XPS 435 have 2.66GHz processors; but whereas the Dell's is a newer Core i7 920 chip (coupled with 6GB of DDR3-1066 RAM), the Velocity Micro sticks with a Core 2 Quad 9400 (and 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM). Surprisingly, Dell's advantages in CPU and RAM don't translate into a perceptible performance gap, though the Dell's 1TB hard drive and Blu-ray drive do win out over the Edge Z5's 750GB hard drive and standard DVD burner.

On our WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, the Edge Z5 beats the Studio XPS 435 by a nose (126 to 125). But in our gaming tests, the Dell was the clear winner, with frame rates of 61 frames per second in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and 71 fps in Unreal Tournament 3 (tested at a 2560 by 1600 resolution and high quality) versus the Edge Z5's frame rates of 49 fps and 68 fps on the same games (at the same resolution and quality). Note: Tests completed under Windows Vista, though the Edge Z5 now ships with Windows 7 for the same price.

The wiring inside the Edge Z5 is smooth and neatly bundled, leaving plenty of room for accessing the system's upside-down interior. (Velocity Micro mounted the power supply to the top of the case--not an uncommon occurrence--and installed the motherboard in reverse, so if you want to add a component to one of the system's two free PCI slots, you'll have to install the device upside-down. It's not a deal-breaker, but the whole setup looks a little odd through the side-panel window.)

The rear of the Edge Z5 hosts four USB ports and one FireWire 400 port, along with connections for integrated 7.1 surround sound, gigabit ethernet, HDMI, and DisplayPort (still a rarity). There's no DVI connection on the rear of the case, however, and no HDMI-to-DVI converter among the included accessories. The only connection option on the front of the chassis is a multicard reader; but on the side of the case (in the lower-right panel) Velocity Micro provides two USB ports and a single FireWire 400 port.

The keyboard included with the Edge Z5 is crisp and elegant, and has large gray buttons for launching applications and handling media playback. The mouse, a rebranded Creative HD7600L device, comes with numerous buttons and a built-in DPI toggle for gamers of various playing styles; its glowing scroll wheel and accompanying buttons look pretty in the dark, too.

Though the Velocity Micro Edge Z5 has few technical faults, you should compare it to Dell's Studio XPS 435 before deciding to buy.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    With the Z5, Velocity Micro delivers an excellent value PC.

    Pros

    • Excellent general performance
    • Carefully wired internals

    Cons

    • No Blu-ray drive or terabyte storage
    • No DVI connector
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