CNET First Look
Maingear F131Ignore the side panel. Maingear has an outstanding deal in this high-end F131 gaming desktop, which is one of the fastest PCs we've seen all year. We recommend this system without hesitation to serious PC gamers and those interested in a high-performance,...
-Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at the Editor's Choice-winning Maingear F131. So this is a $2,500, customizable gaming PC. You can get it with all kinds of graphics cards, CPUs. This particular model has an overclocked Intel Core i7 950. I mean, you can boost it all the way up to 4.2 gigahertz, so this is a very fast computer. It also has a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards. And those are relatively mid-range cards, but with 2 of them, this system can play pretty much any game on the market. This is a fairly clean-looking system. You have a couple of ports up here on the top. You've got a media card reader and a DVD drive up here in the front. There is a Blu-ray drive option if you want it. You can also get a second optical drive at Maingear's website. Of course, this will cost extra. Now, this piece of art in the side is an optional feature. You can get your own image on here if you want to, or you can leave it blank, and there's no charge for this laser-etched design. So, that's one of the neat features. We can't really say we'd opt for this Mafia II design ourselves, but we suppose for maybe some fans out there. Now, you can see quite a few different connectivity options here on the back, and Maingear actually did a pretty good job of keeping the system up to date. You get a handful of USB 2.0 jacks. You get an old school PS/2 mouse and keyboard input. There's also a digital audio input and two different kinds of eSATA ports. There's standard and powered. So, if you have a powered eSATA device, you can plug it in there. You also get a pair of USB 3.0 jacks, which is nice for the few devices that support USB 3.0. We have a feeling we'll probably see more of them as time goes on here. And that's actually not that common in desktops, even in this sort of higher-end $2,500 price range. So, that's a nice feature and we expect we'll see more systems with USB 3.0 going forward. Now, you also get FireWire and 7.1 audio jacks. And down here in the two video cards, you get a set of DVI jacks as well as mini HDMI inputs, and there's an adapter for those in the box. So inside the case, you'll see Maingear's wiring is up there with the best in the business. This is easily one of the cleanest PC interiors we've seen, and everything is routed and tied exactly how we would want it if we're gonna do it ourselves. And notice the liquid cooling here in the CPU. That helps keep the system relatively quiet, as there's a foam-padding down here in the side panel. It also helps keep the overclocked setting nice and stable, and we found that at 4.2 gigahertz, the system, as we said before, is blazingly fast. And you get 6 gigs of RAM in this PC. There's 1333 megahertz DDR3. There're also 3 extra slots if you wanna make an upgrade. Down here, you get the two NVIDIA graphics cards, and if you see down there, there's actually room for one more. There's a spare PCI Express graphics card slot. But this is only a 750-watt power supply. Now, you probably wanna beef your power supply if you're gonna add a third graphics card, and Maingear does offer higher-end options. You'll see an array of hard drives over here. There's a solid-state drive for the boot drive installed. There's also a 1 terabyte drive for storage. And these pop-out and let you swap in drives nice and easy. There's a data and power ports on the back, and you simply screw the drive in, slide it in the slot, and you're good to go. We've seen PCs with hard drives that load through the front, and that's a feature we actually like 'cause it means you don't have to take the side panel off if you wanna expand your storage or replace broken drive. And Maingear offers an option for that as well, although it costs a little bit extra. So, thanks to its overclocked CPU, this system outperforms PCs that cost twice a much just about 6 months ago. And the pair of graphics cards also make this system a very capable gaming PC. And there's a few games out there right now that you wouldn't be able to play at full resolution and full image quality. And for its fast performance and great value for its price, this Maingear is an Editor's Choice. So, I'm Rich Brown, and this is the Maingear F131.