Full Metal Jacket
Intel's hexa-core 970 and SLI for a reasonable price.
Gamers may want more than what SLI GTX 460s can give them.
If you’ve always wondered just where Velocity Micro likes to slot itself in a world of $8,000 wonder rigs and $2,000 budget gaming machines, the Edge Z55 seems to nail it.
At $4,300, the Edge Z55 epitomizes Velocity Micro’s strategy. There’s Ferrari, Lamborghini, and others at the very top and Chevy and Ford at the other end. In that car analogy, Velocity Micro believes it can live in the BMW layer, bringing you great performance, some customization, and still at a pretty good price.
In PC terms, the Edge Z55 occupies the space between the $2,000 quad-core Acer Predator we reviewed last month—a visually stimulating machine that was more show than go—and Digital Storm’s HailStorm —a multi-GPU, hexa-core beast that cost almost $8,000.
In this middle ground, the Edge Z55 is no slouch. To save some cash, Velocity Micro tapped Intel’s new 3.2GHz Core i7-970 chip. It’s essentially a locked and slightly lower-clocked version of the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X. It’s only about $120 less, but that’s still a savings, and it seems to overclock just as well.
In fact, the Edge Z55 came with its 3.2GHz proc punched all the way up to 4.3GHz. We were initially skeptical that the new Intel chip could handle that overclock, but it ran our stress test for 36 hours without a crash. Oh, if only Intel had introduced the Core i7-970 at $562 instead of $885!
The full specs of the rig are below, but the highlights include an EVGA X58 FTW3 motherboard, 6GB of Patriot DDR3/1333, a pair of 128GB A-Data SSDs, and interestingly, a pair of overclocked GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI. That modest graphics-configuration choice sets the Edge Z55 apart from the CrossFireX and tri-SLI machines we’ve seen before, but we suppose that we understand. After all, you have to shave some build options off somewhere to get to $4,300.
Velocity Micro packs a lot of hardware into a mid-tower case.
How does the Edge Z55 perform? Against last month’s budget gaming build (“Builder’s Creed”) and the Acer Predator, the Edge Z55 dominates by double and almost triple digits. Against our beefier zero-point, the Edge Z55 also comes out on top by significant margins. In Vegas Pro, the Edge Z55, umm, edged ahead by 34 percent. In all of our content-creation tests, the Edge Z55 was also the victor, by healthy margins.
The only area where the Edge Z55 didn’t completely destroy our zero-point is gaming. Make no mistake, the Edge Z55’s pair of overclocked GTX 460 cards is still faster. In Far Cry, it’s 18 percent faster. That’s not bad, especially when you consider that our zero-point packs the single-fastest card out right now: AMD’s Radeon HD 5970. But when we get into more advanced DirectX 11 titles, the margin of victory for the faster—and pricier—Edge Z55 shrinks to about 8 percent. That’s still fast, but probably not the margin some would hope for.
That shouldn’t diminish the Edge Z55 in your eyes, though. With nearly 240GB in SSD storage, SLI, and high-res gaming capability without having to crack the $7,000 mark, this isn’t a bad choice for someone who wants just a little more than the typical PC.
|Processor||Intel 3.2GHz Core i7-970X (overclocked to 4.3GHz)|
|Mobo ||EVGA X58FTW3|
|RAM||6GB Patriot DDR3/1600|
|Videocard ||Two GeForce GTX 460 in SLI|
|Storage ||Two 128GB A-Data S599 SSD, 2TB Hitachi HDS 7,200rpm drive|
|Optical ||LG WH10L530, Lite-On iHAS 224|
|Case/PSU ||Velocity Micro Gx2-W / Velocity Micro 850-Watt PSU|
|Zero Point ||Velocity Micro's Edge Z55|
|Vegas Pro 9 (sec)||3,049 ||2,280|
|Lightroom 2.6 (sec) ||356 ||278|
|ProShow 4 (sec) ||1,112||911|
|Reference 1.6 (sec) ||2,113 ||1,523|
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP (fps)||42 ||45.4|
|Far Cry 2 (fps) ||114.4 ||134.9|
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.5GHz, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1333 overclocked to 1,750MHz, on a Gigabyte X58 motherboard. We are running an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.