The Good Better application performance than PCs that cost twice as much; strong gaming performance should play almost any game on the market smoothly and with high image quality; room to expand memory and hard-drive storage; USB 3.0 jacks prepare you for future external devices.
The Bad Garish (but fortunately optional) side panel art.
The Bottom Line Ignore 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, high-value computer.
Although we liked the PCs we saw with Intel's new unlocked Core i7 875K CPU well enough, with its $2,499 F131 gaming desktop, Maingear has shown you can still build (and buy) an even faster computer with technology that's just a bit more seasoned for the same price. Maingear overclocked a Core i7 950 chip to 4.2GHz, and included a pair of Nvidia graphics cards in this review build, and the result is performance on par with a PC from just six months ago that costs twice as much. Don't let the silly (and thankfully optional) artwork on the side of this system fool you. We'd recommend the Maingear F131 to any serious PC gamer.
We've given this system a high design rating, but the laser-etched Mafia II-themed side panel bears some scrutiny. Our hunch is that this design represents Maingear's effort to support Nvidia's Mafia II promotional push, which in turn is designed to sell Nvidia's 3D Vision gaming technology, which the game supports.
Though this system does indeed come with 3D Vision-capable graphics cards, it doesn't include the $350 or so 120Hz LCD monitor, nor the roughly $200 3D Vision glasses and receiver kit. If helping Nvidia doesn't explain the Mafia II side panel, we'd love to know why, of all the games out there, Maingear would elect to submit this PC with an image from an only average game (Mafia II currently enjoys a 74 Metacritic rating). The good news is that the side panel laser-etching is optional, and you can easily replace it with a blank, or submit your own art, which Maingear will inscribe for no extra charge.