With many boutique builders out there, Velocity Micro stands out in some interesting ways with its Raptor Z55 gaming PC. The front of the case has a dark brushed aluminum finish, and there's a cutout glass panel with a mesh vent beneath for airflow. It's an interesting design choice, since most cases these days opt for a full tempered glass panel, but it's still a sleek full-sized case that's not too big, not too bulky.
GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Super 8GB
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 3.8/4.6GHz
Motherboard: Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Wi-Fi X570
RAM: 32GB DDR4 3200 Crucial Ballistix Sport
Storage: 1TB Gigabyte Aorus PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, 4TB 7200 RPM SATA 600 HDD with 64MB cache
PSU: 850W EVGA SuperNOVA Gold Certified
CPU Cooling: Velocity Micro 240 Liquid Cooler
Case: Raptor Z55
Warranty: 1-year standard part replacement and lifetime labor
Price: $3,499 (as configured)
It manages airflow efficiently by pulling cool air from the bottom of the case and, interestingly, is enough to keep the entire rig cool without the aid of other fans at the front or back of the case. The sides snap on and off from the case instead of being secured by magnets or screws, but it goes back on easily. The cable management is clean and crisp (no cluster of cables shoved in there like it's 1999), and the LED lighting is understated for those who prefer a glow to a lightshow.
The optical drive is the most unexpected feature on this high-end build. CDs are near-obsolete, so there's no need for modern cases to accommodate them into their design. Cases that did only a few years ago often had a front panel that swung shut to hide the optical drive, to give the case a cleaner appearance. To see the optical drive front and center like a 90s rig is odd design choice. Nostalgic, but not entirely practical for the modern PC gaming enthusiast. The Raptor Z55 feels like a sleeper in that regard, but Velocity Micro does have a mid-tower version of the Z55 without the optical drive.
The optical drive doesn't interfere with how the components are laid out, even with an optional cage on the inside that can hold up to five HDDs. Inside the configuration we received is an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, RTX 2080 Super, 32GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, and a 4TB HDD—a great combination if you're looking to graduate from 1080p monitors and still experience smooth gameplay with high frame rates and refresh rates over 60Hz. You won't necessarily see 60 fps at 4K, even with ray tracing turned off with the CPU and GPU combo, but together they pack a powerful enough punch to get close to or over 60 fps on ultra with some of the most demanding games.
With our usual benchmarks, the Raptor Z55 spits out a 3,282 in Cinebench, a 23,554 (1080p), 12614 (1440p) and 6584 (4K) in 3D Mark, with a real-time ray tracing score of 6640 at 1080p. Moving onto the games, Total War: Warhammer II averaged 100 (1080p), 85 (1440p), and 51 fps (4K) with the graphics set to ultra. Division 2 averaged 109 (1080p) 77 (1440p), and 44 fps (4K) on ultra, and Metro Exodus averaged 75 (1080p), 59 (1440p) and 38 fps (4K) on ultra. With ray tracing turned on high at 1080p, Metro averaged 65 fps.
Even the the CrystalDiskMark scores are stellar—the NVMe SSD has a read/write score of 4938MB/s and 4283MB/s respectively. Those speeds won't improve frame rates, but they decrease boot times and time spent loading into the actual game from the menu.
As an extra bonus, every custom rig out of Velocity Micro is custom tuned to get the most performance out its components. Its warranty covers lifetime phone support and lifetime labor coverage, optional up to 3-year parts replacement warranty, and US-based call center support.
Now, down to the price—this build is $3,499 before shipping. Given the cost of the components individually, anyone can DIY with the same or equivalent parts for less. The added cost in this case is from the customer support and the convenience of not building it yourself, but it seems on the steep side compared to some other boutique builders. That is the only downside to an otherwise professional and understated build.