Velocity Micro Vector Z25 review

The Velocity Vector Z25 is a midrange desktop of the old school. It has multimedia and 3D gaming chops, all for a sub-$1,000 price tag.
Photo of Velocity Micro Vector Z25

The Velocity Micro Vector Z25 ($999 list) is a midtower PC with all the goods. It comes from a company that knows how to build a very good PC with a great bang for the buck, and it succeeds again with the Vector Z25, which earns the Editor’s Choice winning midrange desktop PC. It has the power to quickly complete multimedia tasks (photo and video), while keeping a little in reserve for moderate to hardcore gaming. It’s the kind of PC that you would’ve paid $2,500 for in the old days, and for that type of user it comes highly recommended.

Design and Features
The Vector Z25 comes in a fairly standard looking black steel mid tower chassis, which is a departure from more flashy windowed cases like the one on the Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition (2012) ($999). This is a system for those who want more performance than flash, though the system’s LED-lit cooling fans will give you a small hint of the Vector Z25′s performance.

Inside the chassis, you’ll find an Intel Core i5-3470 processor, 8GB of memory, a 1TB SATA hard drive with supplementary 32GB mSATA caching SSD, a DVD burner, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 graphics card. The system isn’t quite planted in gaming PC territory, but it is more powerful than your run-of-the-mill midrange PC. There’s room for one additional hard drive and an optical drive in the chassis, and space for two more memory DIMMs on the motherboard. PCIe expansion is limited to two PCIe X1 slots, since the GeForce GTX 650 fills two physical slots. The 32GB mSATA card fills the motherboard’s Mini Card slot. There are three SATA ports free for future internal drives. The system’s 500W power supply is sufficient for a mid-level enthusiast card like the GTX 650, but consider a more robust PSU if you want to eventually put in a high-end card like the GTX 680. All in all, this is about as much as you can expect from a midrange system like the Vector Z25.

Outside the chassis, you’ll find a very good selection of I/O ports, including four USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Ethernet, S/PDIF audio, analog audio, two DVI ports, and a mini-HDMI port. The DVI and mini-HDMI ports are on the graphics card, with the remainder on the motherboard’s back panel and on the side of the system. The power button on the right hand side near the bottom of the chassis is somewhat awkward to reach if you have the system on the floor to your right. However, the system is small enough that it may fit on your desk, making it easier to reach the power and reset buttons.

The system comes with no bloatware or trialware installed, save the standard set of Windows 8 apps and the driver software that comes with the GeForce GTX 650 card. This is a boon, as the system comes with a relatively light 1TB hard drive. Sure, there’s lots of space for your programs and documents, but at almost $1,000 we’re starting to expect 2TB or more. The 32GB mSATA SSD isn’t visible to the end user, it’s primarily there to speed up repetitive tasks like waking from sleep or reopening recently closed apps.

Performance

The Vector Z25 isn’t flashy, but performance is where the system really shines. Its Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 32GB mSATA drive, and its GeForce GTX 650 graphics card combine to give you robust performance at our benchmark test, including several scores that lead the pack. Thanks to these components, the Vector Z25 easily outperforms midrange systems like the HP Pavilion P7-1520t ($679.99) and the Acer Aspire AME600-UR378 ($899.99). The Vector Z25 leads these two systems at PCMark7 (day to day performance), 3DMark11 (3D gaming), Aliens vs. Predator and Heaven (3D gaming), Handbrake (video encoding), and the Photoshop CS6 test (photo editing). The GTX 650 card helps the Vector Z25 get playable scores on both game tests at the medium quality level. This means that the system is more than adeqate for many games, like 3D browser games or MMORPGs.

The Vector Z25 also handily beats the former midrange Editor’s Choice Gateway DX4870-UR11P ($849.99) at all comparable tests aside from CineBench. We wouldn’t worry too much over that loss as CineBench measures 3D rendering using the CPU, something that most hobbyists don’t do on a day-to-day basis. The Vector Z25 is ready for just about anything a mainstream or enthusiast will throw at it, save possibly hardcore gaming on a large screen at the highest quality settings. For that type of gaming you’re probably want to go for a dedicated gaming rig.

If you’re the type of user with the old school mindset who really requires a discrete graphics card and powerful processor to do your work, then the Velocity Micro Vector Z25 is the affordable choice. It has the power to do multimedia creation, and has moderate gaming capability, which is something beyond our former EC for midrange desktops, the Gateway DX4870-UR11P. With its mix of performance and future expandability, the Vector Z25 is our Editors’ Choice for midrange desktop PCs.

BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the Velocity Micro Vector Z25

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the Velocity Micro Vector Z25 with several other desktops side by side.

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Specifications
Primary Optical Drive Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce GTX 650
RAM 8 GB
Type Mainstream, Multimedia
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 1000 GB

Verdict
The Velocity Vector Z25 is a midtower desktop of the old school. It has multimedia and 3D gaming chops, all for a sub-$1,000 price tag.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc