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First Look: Maingear Vybe

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First Look: Maingear Vybe

3:32 /

Maingear's Vybe is the first desktop in our lab with AMD's new six-core Phenom II X6 processor. That chip alone can't save this system from tough competition among mid-ranged gaming PCs, but if the Vybe isn't the best all-around PC at this price, it has some impressive gaming chops. Just be prepared to make a few sacrifices along the way.

>>Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today we're going to take a look at the Maingear Vybe. This is a mid-level gaming PC from Boutique vendor Maingear. It's a compact little case it actually has full ATX motherboard inside it though. But probably the most exciting feature this particular config is that it has a six-core AMD processor in it. It's the first desktop we've seen with the AMD Phenom II X6 and this is actually a pretty fast little gaming box for the price. You have a DVD burner up here. There's a media card reader on the front. There's also a little port on top that's has a couple USB ports and some audio jacks. On the back of the case you can see there's a Wi-Fi antenna port right here. Maingear actually throws that in for free with this config so base line is $1,299 for the six-core build and that's competitive in its price range considering all the features you get. There's a graphic's card here. It gives you a couple DVI outs as well as HDMI and DisplayPort output. You've got analog sound outputs, a couple USB ports as well as two USB 3.0 jacks. That's relatively new standard. Where not sure it's going to be as successful as USB because there's Light Peak coming soon from Intel which may become popular as well. You also get Firewire, Ethernet and S/PDIF digital audio output. Now, you'll notice there's no eSATA jacks, we assume that's because Maingear values USB 3 over eSATA, at least right now. As you expect from most Boutique PC vendors, inside of the system is nice and clean. All the wires are right out of the way. Upgrades should be easy and airflow is nice and clean. We wish the hard drive cage faced outward which would make it a little bit easier to install drives. Coming from this way, it's not super convenient. We've also seen designs where you can actual pop drives into the front. That's sort of our new favorite design right now. So, hopefully, Maingear will adapt one way or another moving forward. A period of an ATI Radeon HD 5833 graphics card, we found the system will play pretty much anything out there and what's actually great is that the six-core chip is fast enough that it can accelerate games that support multi-core CPUs. That gives it a little bit of a boost over PCs that don't have six-core CPUs and slightly faster graphics cards. So, you're actually getting a pretty good deal with this system in terms of price performance at least in PC games. For applications we found that even though Maingear tweaked the CPU a little bit to make it over clock depending on the operating conditions. It wasn't quite as fast as other $1,200 -- $1,100 desktops on certain application compared to PCs that use Intel chips. So, we wouldn't necessarily recommend this for productivity but for gaming it's actually a pretty good deal. Now, you've got four RAM slots down here, you can see they are all occupied. There's a couple of expansion slots up here as well including an extra graphics card slot. Now, that would be great if the system had a bigger power supply. Right now there's only a 500-watt PSU in there. So, even if you were going to add a second card we would probably suggest buying a higher-end card first to replace this sort of mid-range version. Of course, this is a customizable PC so you can hop on Maingear's website and if you want to buy the system, you can add a bigger power supply, different CPU, GPU for a different price of course. So, we're happy with the Vybe as a gaming box. We wish it had a little bit more power in general applications but still the six-core chip is definitely fast enough to handle most day-to-day tasks. We like that there is a big motherboard in there with lots of upgrade potential. That said, you'll probably need a bigger power supply to get the most out of it and, of course, you can go to Maingear's website and make any changes you want. So, I'm Rich Brown, this is the Maingear Vybe.

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