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Maingear F131 review: Maingear F131

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MSRP: $2,495.00
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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.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

Review Sections

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.

Weird product placement aside, the design of the F131 is in line with what we expect from a higher-end gaming desktop. The interior in particular is perfectly designed, with all internal cables wrapped and bound as neatly as can be. We dinged Maingear's flagship Shift desktop for lacking the power and data connections from the back of the open hard-drive bays, and Maingear has corrected that issue here. And though this F131 build doesn't have the front-panel hard-drive access we've come to appreciate from a variety of vendors, we're glad to see Maingear offers the option for an additional $99.


Maingear F131Falcon Northwest Talon
Price$2,499$2,499
Motherboard chipsetIntel X58Intel P55
CPU4.2GHz Intel Core i7 950 (overclocked)4GHz Intel Core i7 875K (overclocked)
Memory6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics(2) 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 4601.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 480
Hard drives64GB Corsair solid-state drive, 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar Black1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7,200rpm SATA 3.0
Optical drivedual-layer DVD burnerdual-layer DVD burner
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

If we're happy with the design of the F131, we're ecstatic about the features Maingear offers for its price. From the aggressive and, more importantly, stable overclocked Intel Core i7 950 CPU, to the pair of GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards, to the solid-state boot drive, Maingear has outdone a competing Talon from Falcon Northwest to a dramatic degree. Falcon Northwest doesn't even offer a Talon with Intel's X58 chipset; instead it relies on the P55 chipset, which has reduced card expansion capacity and lower memory bandwidth. For other competing systems from vendors like Velocity Micro, Origin, and Alienware, you'll find they either ask more money for the same components, or they don't offer the same parts.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Maingear F131
89

AVADirect Custom Gaming PC

90

Origin Genesis

91

Falcon Northwest Talon

94

Velocity Micro Edge Z55

94

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Maingear F131
55

Origin Genesis

56

Velocity Micro Edge Z55

58

AVADirect Custom Gaming PC

60

Falcon Northwest Talon

62

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Maingear F131
239

Origin Genesis

247

Velocity Micro Edge Z55

252

Falcon Northwest Talon

257

AVADirect Custom Gaming PC

310Cinebench

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Rendering multiple CPUs  

Rendering single CPU  

Maingear F131
24,4976,149

Origin Genesis

23,6775,969

Velocity Micro Edge Z55

23,4355,835

Falcon Northwest Talon

23,0035,900

AVADirect Custom Gaming PC

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