We haven't adopted a DirectX 11 game test yet, but we were curious to see how the Maingear would handle Metro 2033, one of the more demanding DirectX 11 games. We don't use that game formally as Nvidia had a lot to do with its development (as AMD and ATI have done with Tom Clancy's HAWX), and we'd prefer a more neutral title. As this is an Nvidia-based system, the F131 is primed to succeed on Metro 2033. We had a good experience during regular gameplay, but when we dialed up all of the image quality and physics settings, the Maingear hit its limit in the Metro 2033 benchmark program, managing only about 25 frames per second. That's certainly playable, but it's not enough of a cushion to guarantee you won't see the occasional slowdown.
The take away for the Maingear F131 as a gaming system is that you will find very few games that will challenge this PC. For the few that will, you should be able to dial down a few settings here and there, and still enjoy a smooth, good-looking gaming experience.
Thanks to its Intel X58 motherboard and its three PCI Express graphics card slots, you could conceivably add a third graphics card to this PC if you want to boost its gaming performance. We would suggest upgrading the 750-watt power supply if that's your plan, which you can do easily enough thanks to the PSU's modular design.
With two double-wide cards already in residence in this PC, you only get the additional PCI Express graphics slot for card upgrades. You get more flexibility with the memory, as three slots come unoccupied. And this system also has seemingly infinite capacity for hard-drive upgrades, with five free bays available.
The external connectivity options have some nice surprises as well. You get the standard assortment of USB 2.0, analog and S/PDIF audio, and FireWire jacks around the front and back of the case. The Asus motherboard also includes two eSATA inputs, one powered and one unpowered, as well as a pair of USB 3.0 jacks. Maingear has been particularly aggressive in bringing USB 3.0 to its systems, and with the addition of those jacks, you have no less than four different kinds of external data inputs. That's some impressive flexibility, even for a sub-$3,000 desktop.
|Maingear F131||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||2.84|
|Sleep (10 percent)||173.16|
|Idle (25 percent)||196.66|
|Load (5 percent)||446.4|
|Annual power consumption cost||$113.20|
Our power tests aren't designed to isolate certain components in a system, so we can't say conclusively whether it's the graphics cards or the overclocked CPU that contribute more to a gaming PC's overall power draw. Thus we can only say it's interesting that the Maingear consumes less power than the PCs it outperforms on our application tests, but shows more traditional scaling if we refer to the results of our Far Cry 2 benchmark. From that latter perspective, our power charts would seem to say that the pair of faster graphics cards in both the Velocity Micro Edge Z55 and the Origin Genesis demands considerably more power than the pair of GeForce GTX 460s in the Maingear. It wouldn't be surprising if that is indeed what is going on here, but if it is, it looks as if that extra power has some very real ramifications to your annual power bill. For the Maingear overall, it seems to be a relatively efficient high-performance gaming PC, but you'll still pay an extra $9 or so monthly to keep it running.
Maingear's default service plan gets you a yearlong hardware warranty, and lifetime labor and phone coverage. It also offers discretionary onsite service from a third-party provider, as well as free, two-way repair shipping for the first 30 days of ownership. You'll find a variety of support options on Maingear's Web site as well, including remote desktop support. In all Maingear's support is on par or better than many vendors out there, boutiques included.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
AVADirect Custom Gaming PC
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.88GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked); 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM (underclocked to 1,480MHz); 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 (overclocked); 1.5TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive; 147GB 15,000rpm Fujistu hard drive
Falcon Northwest Talon
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 875K; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480; 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7,200rpm SATA 3.0 hard drive
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit; 3.87GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 960; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards; 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 920; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 2GB ATI Radeon HD 5970; (2) 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 4.0GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 930; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480; 64GB Patriot Torqx solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive