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Maingear Vybe Super Stock (fall 2011) review: Maingear Vybe Super Stock (fall 2011)

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MSRP: $1,699.00

The Good The updated Maingear Vybe Super Stock will charm PC gamers with its attractive new case, an innovative drive-access speed boost, and buyer-friendly support policies.

The Bad We'd like more flexibility from Maingear's online configurator.

The Bottom Line The handsome new Maingear Vybe Super Stock offers everything we like to see in a modern gaming PC, and we'd recommend it particularly to those looking for a well-rounded performance computer.

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

An appealing new chassis is the most obvious highlight of Maingear's updated Vybe Super Stock gaming desktop, but it might be the less obvious new support policies that help Maingear retain customers in a newly competitive boutique PC gaming field. This $1,948 configuration has the build quality and overall value we expect from a Maingear desktop. It is also heartening to know that if you run into any problems within the first 30 days of ownership, Maingear will rebuild the system with new parts, free of charge. That's not common in the desktop world, and it should help offset some concern you might feel over making a rather significant purchase. For those who buy, and keep, this PC, you'll find yourself in possession of an attractive, rock-solid gaming desktop.

The Vybe Super Stock is the higher-end variant in Maingear's Vybe line, with a pair of graphics cards and the option of higher overclocking than that of its linemates. You can also choose a black version of the new Vybe case. We like the white one, although it seems like white gaming desktops have become a trend for 2011.

More interesting than the color is the feel of the case, to which Maingear has given a soft-touch treatment. Rather than cheap plastic, the exterior of the case almost seems rubberized, and feels sturdy. We wish that sturdiness extended to the actual rubber feet on the bottom of the case. Rather than being screwed in, the feet are attached to the bottom with an apparently weak adhesive; one of them slipped off as we moved the case around the lab. It was easy enough to reset the foot in its original position, but it still felt cheap that it was only glued on.

Maingear Vybe Super Stock Digital Storm Ode Level 3 Alienware Aurora
Price $1,948 $2,399 $2,596
Motherboard chipset Intel Z68 Intel P67 Intel P67
CPU 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked) 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked) 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
Memory 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,866MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics (2) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti (2) 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 (2) 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6950
Hard drive(s) 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung 120GB Intel SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung 2TB 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/DVD burner combo Blu-ray/DVD burner combo
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

The Vybe Super Stock offers competitive value in the same general price range as the fixed-configuration Digital Storm Ode Level 3. Both are substantially better deals than the overpriced Alienware Aurora.

What doesn't come out in our configuration comparison is the fact that the Maingear has a 20GB solid-state caching hard drive built into the Intel Z68 Express motherboard. The drive uses Intel's new Smart Response Technology (SRT), which debuted this year with Intel's Z68 chipset, to cache data between the standard hard drive and the system memory. The idea behind SRT is that it analyzes the files you use most frequently and automatically stores them on the solid-state drive, speeding access time. You will notice its speed benefits most after you use a program often enough that the drive starts to cache the associated files.

Whether we'd recommend SRT over a faster graphics card or a larger storage hard drive depends on your priorities. Those looking for a well-rounded PC will be satisfied with this system and the embedded SSD. Pure gamers, particularly those with larger monitors, might rather put the money spent on the SRT drive into more 3D processing power. Unfortunately, you have to accept the SRT-equipped Z68 motherboard on the Vybe Super Stock.

That brings us to a disconnect we have with this PC. On the more affordable Vybe SE variant, SRT is a configurable option. Adding it will run the cost up $149, but you have the freedom to opt out. You don't have the same flexibility with the Vybe Super Stock, but this is also the only Vybe variant with two graphics cards. Although the SRT drive is a useful feature, being forced to take it on the Super Stock when it's apparently optional on the SE might irk gamers who may reasonably prefer putting their money toward more 3D processing power instead of read/write acceleration. We're not sure if the restrictions on the various Vybe variants are accidental or built around a necessary cost structure, but we'd obviously prefer having complete freedom to choose components.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Maingear Vybe Super Stock (Core i7-2600K, summer 2011)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  

The Vybe Super Stock performs as we'd expect given its comparatively modest overclocking. We don't fault Maingear for holding the Core i7-2600K chip in the Vybe to 4.5GHz, rather than the 4.8GHz or higher we've seen in other systems, including previous Maingear PCs. It reflects the reality that you won't achieve record-setting clock settings every time you try to overclock a chip. It also lets us demonstrate that the minor differences in clock speed don't always translate to dramatic gaps in application performance. The Maingear falls right in line with the other high-end PCs we've reviewed over the last year or so, and we expect anyone with a need for a fast computer, for gaming, digital content creation, or otherwise, would be happy to own this desktop.

Crysis (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x1,600 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  
Maingear Vybe Super Stock (Core i7-2600K, summer 2011)

3DMark 11 combined test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  
Maingear Vybe Super Stock (Core i7-2600K, summer 2011)

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