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MAINGEAR Shift System Review - Triple HD 7970s and Sandy Bridge-E

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: MAINGEAR

Insides and Performance

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When you want to access the back panel to connect your displays, keyboards and all that, you'll need to remove a section of the case on the top.  The cables can be run through the A-frame on the back to keep things clean. 

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Taking the side door off shows us all the hardware goodies inside including the key: three Radeon HD 7970 cards.  Think about that - there is 9GB of graphics memory in this system!!  The MAINGEAR Epic 180 cooler hides the Intel Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X processor and even the Corsair Vengeance memory is color matched.  

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Inside the drive cages you can see the two (also red colored) Corsair Force GT 120 GB SSDs and the single standard spinning hard drive.

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In our testing with some games we were drawing more than 1050 watts power at the wall, so yes, the Corsair 1200 watt Professional Series unit is definitely a necessity!

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Our system also included a white LED internally that does a pretty nifty job of framing the components that you will no doubt want to show off if you buy a Shift with these kinds of specs.

Performance

It should not be a surprise to anyone that this MAINGEAR Shift system is one of the fastest gaming PCs we have ever used.  With specifications that include a Sandy Bridge-E and a set of three Radeon HD 7970 cards, any gamer would be ecstatic to have it.  But just to give our readers some data points, here are a handful of benchmarks.

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With a 3DMark11 scores of over 21,000 the Shift has the fastest graphics system we have ever tested at PC Perspective. 

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The CPU tests shown here in POV-Ray and Cinebench 11 match up with our expectations from previous Sandy Bridge-E testing.  

Closing Thoughts

I am sure there many of our readers at this point shaking their heads and telling themselves they could build a much better system for less money than the MAINGEAR Shift we are featuring here today.  And you're right.  But there are still many people that are dedicated PC gamers but appreciate the build quality, the ability to custom select your own components and the dedicated support team and warranty that companies like MAINGEAR provide.  It's not for everyone, and surely not a $6000+ system, but there are niche audiences for every product.

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This isn't our first MAINGEAR review but it is my first time with a Shift and I must say that I am impressed by the build quality and system design.  We have seen other retail cases with the 90 degree rotation but MAINGEAR was the first system builder to implement it and continues to push forward with innovative updates like the custom built water coolers and the Epic Audio system.  The system components are not unique though - that is a problem for all system builders to differentiate - but MAINGEAR is one of the few builders to really find ways to stand out.

Obviously performance was amazing on a machine like this and though we only showed you a handful of tests, we had several PCPer's use and game on the machine while it was the office and we played just about all popular PC titles available on it.  Battlefield 3 wasn't a problem, Crysis 2 was a breeze and Metro 2033 was easy for the Shift to handle.  Doing any kind of CPU-based tasks showed why the Sandy Bridge-E platform is still the current high-end leader in performance.  While you can of course configure a MAINGEAR PC any way you want to, this model we used was seemingly unstoppable. 

If you are the kind of user looking for a pre-built monster gaming rig, then MAINGEAR is a perfect place to start your search.  Be prepared to exercise that credit card but you should also be prepared for a great experience when doing so.

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April 12, 2012 | 05:17 PM - Posted by Humanitarian

Wow, that's a lot of kit... And a lot of money...

April 12, 2012 | 05:22 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619 (not verified)

Ah yes but can it make toast? That sir is the real question.

April 12, 2012 | 05:52 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Maybe on the back of the HD 7970...

April 17, 2012 | 03:56 PM - Posted by greg.j (not verified)

I think he really meant to ask... "But will it blend?"

April 12, 2012 | 06:04 PM - Posted by Mr_Hyde (not verified)

Did you have to use a 90 degree adapter on the dvi/hdmi out's? Is there enough room up there?

April 12, 2012 | 06:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The truth is those pricey systems represent 10% of the niche PC companies out there on sales. AKA AVA-Origin-Falcon-Pre Alienware and so on. The bulk of the sales for these companies are in the sub 2k range. Would be nice to see a review on this where most people are able to afford.

April 12, 2012 | 08:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I personally come here to poo and ahh over the the cutting edge hardware/equipment. I fear no matter how much they tried to spice us reviews of that 90% range of PCs would be rather bland reading as there would not be much differentiating them.

April 12, 2012 | 08:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

sorry for typo *blush*

ooo and ahh

April 12, 2012 | 08:30 PM - Posted by Chris Morley (not verified)

Hi, I'm MAINGEAR's CTO, and Mr. Anonymous above is absolutely wrong. Our ASPs are well above $2K. And direct discounters like AVA or Tier 1 OEMs like Alienware have distinctly different clients than MAINGEAR and Falcon.

April 13, 2012 | 01:49 AM - Posted by Nilbog

I think its nice to dream. I'm sure couldn't build a system that looked that nice, even if i did have the same parts. All the cables are nicely put away, you can actually tell that they cared while putting it together. Even if it is overpriced in my eyes.

April 13, 2012 | 02:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There is no justification on this planet that would make me spend 6k on that machine when a company like yoyotech can build you the same thing which looks as pretty and as well put together and provide the same support for half that.
You would have to be a fool to pay for that.

April 13, 2012 | 12:01 PM - Posted by Chris Morley (not verified)

Hmmm, London-based yoyotech can't get the chassis, the cooler, or the audio engine, and they can't even build anything similar for $3K, so in what way is your post true again?

April 15, 2012 | 12:44 PM - Posted by James S. Conway (not verified)

Just curious. What is an honest break down of all the components included. Such as how much you charge for your custom chassis, cooler, and audio engine etc. (Which I gather does not work for external speakers-only for a microphone and headphones.) And, how much did it cost you to make it. Honestly. Including labor. I mean this with all due respect. You must forgive us for being reticent in regards to the price. It is completely understandable. Given that most of us could never justify paying more than six-thousand dollars for anything other than our cars, weddings, funerals, and children. This is just my two cents. Which doesn't amount to much, unless, you add up everyone else who pitches theirs in with mine. Meaning they all agree with me. Also. How on earth do you expect people to want to buy from you in the first place if all you do is bully them with statements such as this who were simply giving their honest opinion: "Hmmm, London-based yoyotech can't get the chassis, the cooler, or the audio engine, and they can't even build anything similar for $3K, so in what way is your post true again?" Take away your custom chassis, cooler, and audio engine. And yes. Anyone could build a system with the exact same specifications for nearly half as much. That is the honest truth. And do not even attempt to badger or berate me. It will not work except to further prove that "we" are right.

Sincerely,
James S. Conway

PS. No. I am not "Mr. Anonymous" I am simply someone who does not appreciate bullies of any kind. Rich or poor.

April 15, 2012 | 09:16 PM - Posted by Chris Morley (not verified)

I can't stand bullying either, especially those people who would denigrate the honest work of our staff who are keeping manufacturing and technical jobs here in the US instead of outsourcing. You could go to Newegg and not even come close to $3K for the exact same parts, those of which you would be able to find. And how would you like me to break out the tooling cost of our chassis, or NRE for the Audio Engine? Or MOQ for the 180MM cooler? How would you like me to amortize that? Over the lifespan of the product? Over 100, 200, 300 pcs? What about the marketing it takes to advertise the product to even sell that many? The overhead to produce it? The salaries, the insurance, the utilities, etc to pump these out every day? I'm not going to put exact numbers out there for our competition to read, but you quite clearly are not looking at the whole picture.

April 16, 2012 | 09:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am most interested in purchasing the case only. Options for 90 degree shifted mainboard cases are lacking currently.

April 16, 2012 | 12:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'd like to see a comparison on PCPER site without bias on a sub 2k system. That's where you will see the competitors scream. At high end systems we all know what's out there without reinventing the wheel or having cooler master or creative labs try and rebrand a product to have your company logo on it. But a lower end system that's where margins are real real slim. All of the niche markets out there have sub system.

April 17, 2012 | 04:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

You must be out of your fucking mind if you think this is in any way a high end system. Air Cooling on 3x 7970s that are in adjacent slots? Really? Wow.... Ghetto fabulous, if that's what 6 grand gets you at Maingear these days.

April 17, 2012 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh hey, a troll! Hello, troll!

April 20, 2012 | 12:24 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

Sure I could build one for a fair bit cheaper but it wouldn't look nearly as cool on the inside.

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