Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: MAINGEAR

Introduction and Exterior

When we do system reviews at PC Perspective we tend to look for some specific feature, or some unique asset, that the builder has to provide value to the consumer and potential customer.  I have seen systems that provided a great cost value, ones that offer an extremely quiet experience, some that are in a small form factor, etc.  Our review of the MAINGEAR Shift custom machine is here due simply to an impressive collection of hardware.  

While you can grab a Shift PC starting under $2000, ours isn't going to come anywhere near that.  In fact, as of this writing, the configuration we are detailing would run you about $6,200.  Why?  Take a look at the specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866
  • ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79 Motherboard
  • 3 x Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Cards
  • 2 x Corsair Force GT 120GB SSDs (RAID-0)
  • 1TB Western Digital 7200 RPM HDD
  • Corsair AX1200 watt power supply
  • MAINGEAR Epic 180 water cooler
  • MAINGEAR Epic Audio system
  • Fancy White LEDs

So with a Sandy Bridge-E processor, 16GB of memory, three HD 7970s running in CrossFireX and Corsair SSDs running in a RAID-0 array, this is one of the fastest gaming PCs you can purchase today.  

A Look at the Shift

The specifications are just part of the story though; MAINGEAR is well known for building a high quality machine with attention to detail and continues to push forward with unique ideas like a vertical system design (first system builder to introduce it), custom 180mm water coolers and even in-house thermal interfaces.  

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While MAINGEAR does offer systems in a variety of colors, our system uses the basic brushed black aluminum.  The window on the side panel is another option that was included on our demo rig.

Continue reading our review of the MAINGEAR Shift Triple HD 7970 Gaming Rig!!

For your enjoyment; a little dual Xeon action

Subject: Systems | April 10, 2012 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, Z9 PE-D8 WS, E5-2660, E5-2687W, xeon

The ASUS Z9 PE-D8 WorkStation motherboard is a great platform for those looking to run two LGA2011 Xeon processors, as well as support for up to four GPUs from either NVIDIA or AMD.  As it is a PCIe 3.0 board, you can run two cards at a full 16x, with four cards they would all run at 8x speeds.  Overclock3D tried two different pairs of octocore Xeons, the 3.1GHz E5-2687W and the 2.2GHz E5-2660 to compare the effect of the base clock speeds on performance.  The faster machine is a F@H monster, running over 100,000 PPD, though in other tests it did not out pace the competition by such a wide margin.  That is especially true for gaming tests, where you seem to be better off with a highly overclocked i7-3960X.

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"What would happen if you combined the power of the ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS and two of the latest Xeon processors? We find out."

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Source: Overclock3D

Raspberry Pi Computers Pass EMC Compliance Testing

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm

The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.

According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.

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The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).

Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?

If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!

Just Delivered: MAINGEAR SHIFT with 3x Radeon HD 7970 Cards!

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | April 7, 2012 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: shift, maingear, just delivered, HD 7970, 7970

Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

While we get sent complete system builds from time to time, it's pretty rare when they actually impress me.  Because we review and work with the best harware in the business on a daily basis, something unique really has to be there for us to really be wowed.  Today we were playing with a custom built MAINGEAR SHIFT machine that did just that.

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The SHIFT is the company's flagship product line that starts out with an $1800+ price tag, so you know you are getting top of the line components.  Our test system includes a Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E processor as well as a trio of Radeon HD 7970 cards from AMD.  That's right, three.

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The internals are lit by a white LED and the black/red color pattern of the graphics cards is continued with the inclusion of matching Corsair DDR3 memory to the tune of 16GB and the MAINGEAR EPIC 180 self-containted water cooler.

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Corsair's AX1200 watt power supply is included in the build and it is necessary!  During our testing so far we found the PC could draw as much as 1050 watts from the wall while running 3DMark11.

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Another exclusive feature for the MAINGEAR systems is the EPIC Audio system that adds studio quality audio headphone output and microphone input.  The licensed Aphex technology is touted by the company as being really impressive and I am looking forward to giving it a try this week.

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With our time with the SHIFT so far, the build quality has been impressive, the lack of crapware on the system is a welcome change and the performance is simply astounding as we expected with a SNB-E CPU and triple HD 7970s in CrossFireX.  

Expect more very soon!

The PCAudioLabs Editing PC Sweepstakes Winner Is...

Subject: Systems | April 5, 2012 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: rokbox, pcaudiolabs, Intel, contest

PC Perspective in cooperation with PCAudioLabs and Intel recently held a contest to give away a complete editing PC with software to one lucky reader. The PC in question was the company’s RokBox music creation system and features a Sandy Bridge-E processor, Intel 510 series SSD, 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a GTX 560 Ti for a bit of gaming when procrastinating waiting for the encodes to finish.

Well, the contest ended on March 6th, and the lucky winner was user Cameron Berry! He has since sent us a thank you e-mail (no, thank you Cameron for reading our stuff!) with photos of the unboxing and a time lapse video that is sure to make you envious!

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Cameron writes:

“Thank you PC Perspective and PCAudioLabs for this amazing machine!  I look forward to smooth video editing and audio creation with this sweet rig.... and some gaming of course too.”

Below is the time lapse video mentioned above showing the unboxing. Congratulations to Cameron, I hope that he has a lot of fun with the new machine!

PC bill of materials articles creeps lower.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 31, 2012 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: laptops, desktops

ZDNet and others published articles discussing the rising prices of PCs: it needs a grain of salt.

News publications love to publish large stories about how an industry is forcibly altered. For instance, are you sick of stories proclaiming the term “Post PC” yet? It is the season’s fashion to paint darker tones over any portrait of the personal computer.

According to a report from Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, certain PC components have gotten more expensive due to a series of recent events. It does not look like such a bleak future, however. Granted, ZDNet and Barclays Capital are both focused on their investment-oriented customers, but still.

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As you can clearly see, the PC is doomed.

Image from Don McMillan presentation.

Foremost on the list of concerns is the elevated price of hard drives. ZDNet claims that Apple will have an advantage due to their switch to solid state devices in Macbook Airs and iPads. Apple does not have an advantage -- anyone can put an SSD in their devices, and many PC manufacturers who sell their product for a base price of a thousand dollars do if it suits the goal of the product.

LCD panels are expected to elevate in the near future as OEMs build up inventory ahead of the launch of Windows 8-based products. I am sorry, but come on. Prices of components tend to rise when you abruptly spike in sales. Moving on…

DRAM prices have also risen about 7 percent compared to just a few months ago. My issue is that RAM prices have absolutely plummeted since even just last year. For a PC which costs four hundred dollars, RAM is expected to make up just $15 of that. 7 percent on $15 is, for all practical purposes, a rounding error for a $400 device.

The sky is not falling.

Source: ZDNet

Raspberry Pi red tape: not scratch and sniff just more delays

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | March 30, 2012 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi has been further delayed while it acquires an additional certification to conform to British Law. The delay affects all regions because the products are shipped to the UK before being distributed internationally. The delay is expected to last just a couple of weeks.

It has almost been a year since the first announcement of the Raspberry Pi ultra-cheap PC and we can almost taste its arrival. Originally inspired by David Braben, developer of games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, the Raspberry Pi was built to cheaply enable students to learn computing.

As it turns out, the cost and performance of the device drew massive attention from the hobbyist and home theatre crowd. All interested parties will need to wait, however, as the product has been briefly delayed again because someone forgot to cross their t’s.

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C’mon, almost there, almost there.

All joking aside, the delay is quite small and minor and will still ship within their original target window. The delay was caused by the foundation failing to be granted a Conformité Européenne (CE) mark for their product. The CE certification is the direct analogy to the FCC’s electromagnetic (EM) noise certification which must be obtained for cellphones and other electronic devices in the United States. CE certification is expected to take just a couple of weeks.

Delivering a product is an involved task. I am willing to give the foundation a pass on this specific delay due to their lack of experience in their field. That is unless of course the product is found to interfere with EM broadcasts of some protected frequency. That -- would suck.

Then again, I have also not attempted to order a Raspberry Pi so perhaps my opinion is invalid. What do you think?

Source: TechRepublic

So what's that Red Hat full of? Money. Lots of money.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 29, 2012 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, linux

Red Hat becomes the first Linux company to be worth over a billion dollars (edit for clarity: I meant take in over a billion dollars in revenue) with $1.13 billion in revenue last year.

Red Hat, Inc. is an open source software company based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The company’s identity is primarily with their current flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- and a Cornell University lacrosse hat. The company also sponsors and holds liability over the Fedora Project which counterbalances Enterprise Linux by providing a free and community-supported operating system.

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Just for clarification, that’s a rich penguin, not a rich drake.

Red Hat reported earnings of $1.13 billion dollars in revenue with $146.6 million in earnings. Subscriptions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux were declared responsible for $965.6 million dollars of their total revenue.

ZDNet has also reported that Linux is progressively eating market share from UNIX and Windows for servers shipped with preinstalled operating systems. Red Hat and other Linux vendors are progressively getting more of the same treatment as Microsoft has enjoyed in the past.

The future is bright for Linux, which is unfortunate due to the hole in the Ozone layer over Antarctica. Maybe the rest of the $1.13 billion is sales of sunscreen?

Source: ZDNet

Arctic brings the Blu to HTPCs

Subject: Systems | March 29, 2012 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: arctic, MC001-BD, htpc

The Arctic MC001-BD HTPC will run you $600, though a good percentage of that cost is the BluRay drive and Windows Media Centre.  The system its self is a mere 5mm x 275mm x 161mm and contains a dual core Intel Atom D525 @ 1.8GHz, up to 4GB of DDR3 and most importantly either a Radeon HD 5430 or 5450 to ensure HD playback is smooth.  The connectors are quite comprehensive, on top of five USB 2.0 plugs you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports, along with ethernet, HDMI, VGA, optical S/PDIF port and the 3.5mm audio out.  The integral IR detector is a perfect touch to ensure you can control the HTPC with a remote.  Head to Benchmark Reviews to see how this machine does when put to the test.

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"Home entertainment is quickly changing, and computer technology has become integrated with the personal space. Data storage and playback is becoming more diverse and streamlined by the second. More and more entertainment can be found on the Internet; TV shows, movies, music... the list goes on. To keep up with the demand for instant entertainment, manufacturers such as ARCTIC are designing devices that are ever more sleek and quiet, usually with an array of features to keep the consumer content in their own personal empire. If you are looking to update your home theater with personal entertainment devices, or simplify your leisure time, there are many new Windows Media Center devices emerging on the market. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the Arctic MC001-BD Entertainment Center with Blu-ray player to see if this Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium HTPC can combine the benefits of personal computer with multimedia streamer."

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ECS trims the fat off and presents two new mini-ITX boards

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | March 29, 2012 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: ECS, elitegroup, mini ITX, CDC-TI Thin, H61H2-TI Thin, SFF

The CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX may not interest many readers as it is designed for an Atom processor which have never been terribly popular here at PC Perspective, even for HTPC builds.  The CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX is a totally different story as it can handle LGA1155 chips and has an HDMI out, making it a beautiful choice for an HTPC or even a SFF portable gaming machine although you might be disappointed by the orientation of the full and half length PCIe slots.  Consider it a challenge and see if you can get a decent half height GPU in there!

Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), the world’s leading motherboard, graphics card, barebone system, notebook and mobile device manufacturer announces a variety of options of Thin Mini-ITX for users to meet their different demands with AIO (All-In-One) and motherboards. To target different segments, ECS Thin Mini-ITX motherboards are not only compatible with AIO but also with small form factor PCs, offering a wide range of solutions including H61H2-TI, H61H2-G11 and CDC-TI. With the growth in popularity of AIO, acceptance of the Thin Mini-ITX platform proves to be leading standard of this new trend, allowing for future-proof upgradeability.

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The brand new CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX motherboard supports Intel® Atom™ D2700/D2550/D2500 Dual-core processors. The CPU and Memory are supported 100% by Solid Capacitors in order to provide better conductivity and longevity. CDC-TI features 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket supporting up to 4GB, 2 x SATA 3Gb/s, 2 x USB 2.0, 2 Mini-PCIe (1 Full/ 1 Half), VGA, HDMI and LVDS support. It is distinguished by its fan-less design because of the lowest CPU power consumption of <10W TDP. ECS CDC-TI not only works well for Thin Mini-ITX AIOs but also for other form factors that can take advantage of a low-profile board.

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The other H61H2-TI Thin Mini-ITX motherboard can support socket LGA1155 Intel® 2nd and 3rd Generation Core processors. It features Intel® H61 Express chipset with SATA 3Gb/s, 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket up to 16GB, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 Mini-PCIe (1 Full/ 1 Half), 1 x mSATA, and HDMI input/output that deliver you an excellent performance and amazing experience. ECS H61H2-TI provides you a multi-functional solution within a limited space. Small but versatile.