Despite its smaller chassis and two graphics cards, the Vybe offers more upgrade room than we expected. You get two free 1x PCI Express slots, a free PCI slot between the two 3D cards, one free 3.5-inch hard-drive bay, and two free 2.5-inch drive bays accessible via the front panel. You also have room to add two more memory sticks. We don't believe going from 8GB to 16GB of RAM would bring huge performance payoffs now, but it doesn't hurt to have the option.
Maingear has also chosen a motherboard with plentiful connectivity options. The Intel DP67BG Extreme board features three USB 3.0 jacks, eight USB 2.0 ports, and both FireWire and eSATA ports for external data connections. For audio you get 7.1 analog jacks as well as optical S/PDIF output, and for video each graphics card offers a pair of DVI ports, a pair of Mini DisplayPort outputs, and an HDMI output. We haven't seen Thunderbolt on a Windows system yet, but that's the only feature we can think of that's missing here.
|Maingear Vybe Super Stock||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||568.91|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$64.57|
The PCs in the upper end of the gaming category are notoriously power-hungry, so we don't expect them to meet Energy Star requirements, for example. Still, given the Vybe Super Stock's leading performance, we have to credit Maingear for coming in second in overall power draw. You'll pay more than $5 monthly on your power bill to own this system, but it could certainly be worse.
Maingear's default service plan gets you a yearlong hardware warranty and lifetime labor and phone coverage. It also offers discretionary on-site 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, including remote desktop support. In all, Maingear's support is on par with or better than that of many vendors out there, boutiques included.
The Maingear Vybe Super Stock is an Editors' Choice winner on the strength of its performance, especially for gaming, as well as its build quality and surprising upgradability. You don't need to spend $2,849 or even $2,449 to play the latest PC games, but we can think of no better alternative than this system if you're inclined to spend that much.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.6GHz Intel Core i7 2600K (overclocked); 16GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards; 128GB solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Maingear Vybe Super Stock
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5870
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; 4.7GHz Intel Core i7 2600K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card (overclocked); 80GB solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Velocity Micro Z40
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.0GHz Intel Core i5 2500K (overclocked); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti graphics card (overclocked); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive