Our best explanation for the low single-core Cinebench score is that Overdrive didn't kick in the way it should have. Maingear says it sent the Vybe to us with Overdrive enabled. Our test procedure specifies that we leave running all programs resident when the system first turns on. Regardless of why the scores were low, Maingear insists that it will sell this system with the overclocked settings enabled at start-up. We've elected to take Maingear at its word, but we expect that, in light of our experience, Maingear will rectify any improper set-up procedure going forward. Again, we have no way to determine the cause of the original slowdown, so we cannot say for sure whether Maingear did indeed do anything incorrectly.
With the Overdrive settings in place, we noticed upticks in performance on our single-core oriented tests. The Vybe's single-threaded Cinebench score leapt from 3,569 to 4,237, and its iTunes time improved from 155 seconds to 134 seconds. We, of course, welcome the speed boost, especially because Maingear adds the overclocked TurboCore tweak for free. The other scores didn't change significantly, and even with the new results, the Maingear remains at the lower end of its price range in terms of application performance overall. Fortunately, this is a gaming desktop, and we had a better experience with its 3D scores.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|1,600 x 1,200 (4x aa)||1,280 x 1,024 (4x aa)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)||1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)|
As you can see from our Far Cry 2 test, the Vybe posted the fastest 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution score in its price range, despite the fact that its Radeon HD 5830 card is the step-down version of the Gateway's Radeon HD 5850. That suggests that on multithreaded games, a six-core CPU could actually make a difference, in particular on hardware-taxing first-person shooters. In other words, on the games most likely to challenge a PC in this price range, the Vybe's six-core CPU seems to provide a meaningful performance benefit. For nonmultithreaded titles, the Vybe might not be the fastest system out there, but we expect you'll find few games this system can't play well.
In addition to the extra graphics-card slot, the Vybe has a few other upgrade options inside--among them, two free hard-drive bays, a pair of standard PCI slots (one occupied by the Wi-Fi card), and two 1X PCI-Express slots (one obstructed by internal cables). On the outside you get a broad selection of inputs and outputs. The Radeon card features a pair of DVI outputs, as well as HDMI and DisplayPort jacks. From the motherboard, you get four USB 2.0 ports and the aforementioned pair of USB 3.0 ports, as well as FireWire 400, an S/PDIF audio output, and 7.1 analog audio jacks. You'll also find a media card reader on the front of the case, and a small, barely noticeable flip-top door on the top of the system that hides front-side audio jacks and two more USB 2.0 ports.
|Raw (annual kWh)||533.0679|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$60.50|
Despite its extra cores, the Maingear Vybe didn't consume a gross amount of extra power. Yes, it drew more than the Gateway, but only by a difference of about $12.00, or an extra dollar a month. All told, you can expect to pay roughly $5.00 extra per month to power the default Vybe configuration reviewed here.
Maingear's default service plan gets you lifetime parts, labor, and phone coverage, and one year of what it calls "Angelic" service. Maingear's Web site details a collection of promises that come with Angelic service, although some of the promises are more like courtesies, such as promising that it won't oversell you (a vendor shouldn't do that regardless). But the discretionary on-site visit from a third-party service provider could come in handy. Taking a page from Falcon Northwest, Maingear also offers free, two-way repair shipping, although only for the first 30 days of ownership, as opposed to a year from Falcon. Even if Maingear's service offerings aren't unique, they still surpass those from the vast majority of other vendors out there.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 920 (overclocked); 9GB 1,066 DDR3 SDRAM; 896MB GeForce GTX 260 (216 core); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770; 1TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 860; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850; 1.5TB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5830; 640GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.22GHz Intel Core i7-860 (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 896MB Nvidia G