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Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) Review

After reviewing fairly a number of Velocity Micro desktop builds over time, we contemplate the Virginia boutique agency to be among the many prime performance-focused builders round. The new Raptor Z55 (begins at $2,824; $4,599 as examined) re-asserts that declare with Intel’s new Twelfth Generation “Alder Lake” processors (a tip-top Core i9-12900K chip, in our unit) and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics. Thanks to a super-clean construct, customized tuning, and these high-end elements, the brand new Raptor Z55 is a chart-topping performer for heavy productiveness and gaming at any decision. The construct will not be as visually flashy as different boutique rivals, however it is going to match proper in for workplace {and professional} use, and it’s put collectively and supported with care. For pace hounds with demanding information, content material, or 3D workloads, the Raptor Z55 is among the many greatest customized builds obtainable, bolstered by Intel’s new-day CPUs.


Pristine Professional Styling

We’ve seen this (and really comparable) chassis from Velocity Micro for years, so we gained’t spend an excessive amount of time right here. This PC maker is performance-focused, and plenty of of its machines go to skilled non-gaming makes use of, resulting in this understated (however nonetheless stylish) design. The tower is fully aluminum, a high quality construct that principally simply blends in, save for its outstanding facet window.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) desktop PC on wood desk


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

If the outside didn’t tip you off to the deal with a clear {and professional} look, the inside view will. “Clean” might be even an understatement; Velocity Micro builds are pristine, with all silver and black fittings, and never a cable misplaced. There is a few fastidiously chosen bluish lighting in all followers, as nicely, for some aptitude. The consideration to element and tuning pays off within the efficiency, as we’ll get to a bit later, so it isn’t all for present. 

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) desktop PC with window


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

As such, this desktop is becoming for any setting—it might slot in unnoticed at an workplace or authorities constructing, and the virtually stoic look is a press release in its personal method for players preferring a much less flashy look. The tower’s footprint will take up some room, greater than some Raptor towers we have reviewed earlier than (that is the corporate’s GX6 case), however it’s not out of the unusual for an ATX construct. It measures 20.25 by 8.25 by 20.5 inches (HWD).

The windowed panel pulls away simply; it’s possible you’ll end up searching for one thing to unscrew, however it actually simply pops off with a significant tug, held in place by a collection of pegs. Putting it again on is a matter of lining the pegs as much as holes and urgent it again into place, making upkeep a breeze.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) desktop PC front view


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

The front-panel ports are literally top-panel ports, because the entrance itself is absolutely flush. On the highest edge, you’ll discover two USB 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, headphone and mic jacks, and the ability button. Most of the ports are round again, together with 5 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.1 ports, two USB-C ports, an Ethernet jack, and audio traces.


Components and Configurations: Introducing Alder Lake

The massive query, in fact, is what elements are lurking behind that facet window. As talked about, this construct exists for Alder Lake, Intel’s new Twelfth technology of desktop chips. The specific processor on this construct is the high-end Core i9-12900K, which we additionally examined within the Alienware Aurora R13. This provides us a pleasant level of comparability for the efficiency testing in a second.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) desktop PC with blue lights


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

The Core i9-12900K is a 16-core, 24-thread processor touting many new efficiencies Intel’s been engaged on. For anybody following the PC and processor industries, AMD had stormed to a lead on this entrance in the previous couple of years, creating a lineup of fairly spectacular Ryzen processors throughout all efficiency tiers, one thing Intel has struggled to maintain tempo with. The previous few Intel generations have been modest bumps in pace, however Ryzen chips have been comfortably main the way in which on productiveness and media workloads. 

We’ll get into the efficiency outcomes of this technique under, however (spoiler alert) Intel has succeeded in making an enormous leap ahead this time round. For way more on Alder Lake structure and the efficiencies Intel is using, try our overview explainer on the brand new chips, in addition to our in-depth assessment of the Core i9-12900K itself. We even have a deep dive into the brand new Z690 chipset, which fits a good distance in boosting the efficiency.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021)


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

Joining the processor is 16GB of reminiscence (DDR5-4800), an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card (particularly EVGA’s FTW 3 Ultra with 12GB of VRAM), and a no-slouch 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro drive. The liquid cooler is Velocity Micro’s personal closed-loop 360mm cooler, and we’re joyful to say the system by no means obtained too loud beneath load, particularly contemplating the ability it pushes. The energy provide is mounted on the backside, with top-mounted followers pulling air out of the system along with the standard rear vents. The triple-fan 360mm radiator is mounted on the right-side panel, bringing the overall to 6 followers.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021)


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

This configuration is priced at $4,599, so there’s no pretending that is some worth play. As talked about, this desktop exists for heavy-duty workloads, with gaming solely considered one of many use circumstances. This is a pro-grade system in design and tools, and solely those who want this energy ought to contemplate this loadout. Also price noting: Velocity Micro would a lot somewhat have despatched 32GB (or extra) RAM with this loadout, and suggest that quantity, however have been constrained by time and its provide of DDR5 modules for this assessment unit, resulting in the 16GB capability.

The lowest-cost Intel-based Raptor Z55 GX6 begins at $2,824 for a way more modest construct (Twelfth Gen Core i5, and a GeForce GTX 1650 Super card), which is arguably much less of an incredible worth. To be truthful, that also elements within the value premium concerned in an knowledgeable construct, in-house tuning, an aluminum case, domestic-location assist, and another elements, however it’s expensive for that mixture of CPU and GPU. The $4,599 construct is, dare I say, extra fairly priced regardless of that premium, falling proper according to the equally outfitted mass-market Alienware Aurora R13.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021)


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

And sure, for the DIY heads on the market, it could be inexpensive in the event you constructed a system with the identical elements your self. However, that’s not what {most professional} customers do, nor these purchasing en masse for a corporation or the federal government. Velocity Micro additionally helps the system with a one-year half alternative guarantee included, in addition to lifetime telephone assist and labor protection. (As a Virginia-based firm, assist comes from the US.) You are in fact additionally paying for the clear construct and customized tuning that occurs earlier than it’s shipped to you, which is a part of the efficiency edge these methods provide.

Without additional ado, let’s get to the eagerly awaited efficiency outcomes.


Velocity Micro and Intel Alder Lake: A Happy Marriage of Performance

Since switching to a extra fashionable suite of benchmark checks, we’ve solely reviewed a number of high-end desktops, so the record of comparability items is small. Still, they are going to function good factors of comparisons right here, so try their names and specs under…

The Maingear Turbo is the AMD consultant right here, and with its high-end Ryzen 9 chip and RTX 3090, it makes an incredible level of comparability. The Alienware Aurora R13 is the opposite new Alder Lake-based system, with barely totally different supporting elements. The Aurora R13, for what it’s price, could be very equally priced to the Raptor Z55 at $4,679.99; the Raptor is definitely the cheaper of the 2 regardless of the earlier disclaimers about boutique vendor premiums.

See How We Test Desktops

Productivity Tests

The foremost benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates quite a lot of real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows to measure general efficiency for office-centric duties corresponding to phrase processing, spreadsheeting, internet looking, and videoconferencing. We additionally run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive take a look at to evaluate the load time and throughput of a desktop’s storage.

Three benchmarks deal with the CPU, utilizing all obtainable cores and threads, to charge a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 makes use of that firm’s Cinema 4D engine to render a posh scene, whereas Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates well-liked apps starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to transform a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p decision (decrease occasions are higher).

Our ultimate productiveness take a look at is workstation maker Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which makes use of the Creative Cloud model 22 of Adobe’s well-known picture editor to charge a PC’s efficiency for content material creation and multimedia purposes. It’s an automatic extension that executes quite a lot of normal and GPU-accelerated Photoshop duties starting from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving a picture to making use of masks, gradient fills, and filters.

There are two foremost takeaways from this batch of outcomes: Alder Lake is the true deal, and Velocity Micro is aware of how you can construct a quick laptop. Intel’s Twelfth-gen resolution (lastly) manages to greatest its Ryzen counterpart on CPU duties, placing up larger scores on each productiveness take a look at right here. That’s an enormous reversal from the AMD dominance we’ve seen, making environment friendly use of the E-core and P-core hybrid structure and Thread Director expertise that Intel has been engaged on for this platform. It’s maybe not the full image of Ryzen 9 versus Core i9 (once more see the assessment of the chip itself), however right here in a client desktop, there’s a noticeable distinction.

As for the Raptor Z55 as a desktop, it outperformed the Aurora R13 on PCMark 10 and Cinebench R23, nearly tied it on HandBrake and Geekbench, and misplaced on Photoshop. Again, these two share the identical processor, so a detailed race is predicted, however the Raptor Z55 was hamstrung by simply 16GB of reminiscence. It acquitted itself nicely, and has the quickest storage of the bunch. We’ll additionally jump over to the graphics checks subsequent earlier than drawing full conclusions.

All of this implies good issues for Intel and Velocity Micro: This is an easy, ready-to-go workhorse for skilled customers. The producer earns its popularity for efficiency, whereas Intel places itself again within the operating for power-hungry customers after a interval of AMD dominance, making for a extra fascinating and aggressive processor market. AMD’s subsequent launch will likely be very fascinating to observe.

Graphics and Gaming Tests

We take a look at Windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark: Night Raid (extra modest, appropriate for laptops with built-in graphics) and Time Spy (extra demanding, appropriate for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). 

In addition, we run three real-world sport checks utilizing the built-in benchmarks of F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Rainbow Six Siege. These symbolize simulation, open-world action-adventure, and aggressive esports shooter video games respectively. Odyssey and Siege are run twice (the previous at Medium and Ultra high quality presets, the latter at Low and Ultra high quality), whereas F1 2021 is run twice at most settings, as soon as with Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing turned off and as soon as with it on. 

Note that we usually run the newer Assassin’s Creed Valhalla as a substitute of Odyssey, however the brand new chips are experiencing conflicts with some titles, rendering them unable to launch. This occurred to us on a number of Twelfth-gen methods with Valhalla. As greatest we are able to inform, and having spoken to Intel in regards to the challenge, the issue originates with Denuvo DRM, which Valhalla makes use of. A repair must be within the works, however for now we are able to solely challenge the warning that some titles could not run on Alder Lake builds, at the very least in the meanwhile. Now, onto the outcomes.

You could possibly be forgiven for forgetting that the Raptor Z55 is the one system out of the three that isn’t utilizing an RTX 3090, since its RTX 3080 Ti leads the way in which on each take a look at besides F1 2021. The RTX 3090’s benefits aren’t essentially in gaming, granted, however the Raptor Z55 additionally leads on the artificial checks (the 3090 is extra prone to increase graphics-based skilled workloads to better heights).

Velocity Micro’s efforts with the cooling setup, tuning, and inside format are displaying right here beneath these sustained gaming checks, holding a not-insignificant lead over the Aurora R13 on a number of checks contemplating their similarities. On essentially the most strenuous title right here, Odyssey, it averaged 11fps larger than the R13 at full HD, 7fps larger at 1440p, and 6fps larger at 4K. 

It additionally has the best body charges throughout all three resolutions on Rainbow Six Siege, and is the one system to hit 200fps at 4K. The Maingear Turbo is the superior performer in F1 2021, however the Raptor Z55 once more beats the Aurora R13 right here. Gaming will not be the primary motive most buyers would go for the Raptor Z55, however it makes a powerful case if that’s additionally one thing you wish to do on the system. 


Verdict: Speed Hounds, Look No Further

The new Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 options clear and enticing visible design, runs comparatively quietly, is simple to take care of and improve, and delivers chart-topping body charges. Both the desktop and Alder Lake appear like a success, placing Intel again within the dialog for efficiency hounds at this tier. All of this leaves little room for criticism so far as the Raptor Z55 is worried. Of course it’s an expensive construct, however you get what you pay for.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021) on wood desk


(Photo: Joseph Maldonado)

The solely space the place the Raptor Z55 could lose factors is that the visible design could not scream “Nearly $5,000 Computer!” in contrast with costly, flashier choices from Maingear, Origin, Falcon Northwest, and different boutique PC makers. Even so, it might be extra to your style aesthetically, suits nicely in any skilled setting, and the efficiency is unassailable. If you’re searching for work or personally extra into uncooked pace and would somewhat depart the weird case designs at house, the Raptor Z55 sits atop the efficiency heap.

Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 (2021)

Cons

  • Pricey, significantly for base mannequin

  • Conservative, skilled design could flip players off

The Bottom Line

Velocity Micro delivers on its popularity for performance-first builds within the new “Alder Lake”-based Raptor Z55 boutique desktop PC, which beats all comers in our Core i9/GeForce RTX 3080 Ti configuration.

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