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Velocity Micro Raptor Z95: Modern components, dated enclosure

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Feb. 3, 2014
Boutique gaming PCs usually have a few things in common: enthusiast-class components, enthusiastically overclocked; state-of-the art enclosures, with over-the-top paint jobs at the upper echelons; meticulous wiring jobs, in which internal cables are camouflaged or hidden entirely; and high price tags, sometimes steep enough to induce a nosebleed. With its Raptor Z95, Velocity Micro hits most of those notes, but without the nosebleed pricing.

The Z95's dual 120GB solid-state drives running in RAID 0 contributed to a strong score in our WorldBench 8.1 tests, but the system's 2TB, 7200-rpm hard drive guarantees that you won't soon run out of storage (RAID 0 arrays are supremely fast, but configuring two 120GB SSDs in RAID 0 yields only 120GB of capacity). The Raptor Z95 also holds 16GB of Visiontek DDR3/1600 memory in the form of four 4GB sticks.

All those premium components come housed inside Velocity Micro's "Classic Aluminum Case," which has a clear side panel so that you can lovingly admire the components and the expert cable management inside. The case itself, however, feels about as sturdy as a beer can. The flimsy side panels fit poorly, and the panel blank covering the vacant 5.25-inch drive bay up top is recessed by about a quarter of an inch, leaving a visible gap all around it. I thought it might have been pushed in during shipping, but closer examination revealed that it's supposed to look like that.

If you decide to use that bay, you'll need to perform a little cable management yourself, because the tech who assembled our unit used that space to stash some of the system's excess wiring. The louvered front panel, the rubber-coated lockable wheels on the bottom of the case, and the power supply mounted at the top of the case, meanwhile, leave the rig looking like something that might have been shown at the final Comdex (the famous trade show was cancelled in 2004).

But you certainly won't find any PC of that vintage capable of rendering BioShock Infinite at more than 78 frames per second, with the game's resolution set to 1920 by 1080 pixels and its visual quality set to Ultra. Still, the other boutique rigs I compared it against were all faster. The freakishly expensive machines from Origin and Maingear, for example, were more than twice as fast.

The four WorldBench 8.1 scores were a little closer, though I would have thought the six-core-powered Raptor Z95 capable of outrunning its more expensive rivals here, considering that they all had only quad-core processors. Here again, however, if you decide to upgrade components such as the memory, Ivy Bridge-E gives you a lot more headroom. 

I'm not really bashing the Raptor Z95. It's a very powerful computer for the money. But when you're dropping four grand on a boutique PC, you expect a precision instrument. The Raptor Z95 has all the right components, the handcrafted assembly, and the performance tuning that its price tag warrants. But the funky enclosure that you'll have to look at every day just doesn't rise to the same level.

 

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