Insides and Performance

When you want to access the back panel to connect your displays, keyboards and all that, you’ll need to remove a section of the case on the top.  The cables can be run through the A-frame on the back to keep things clean. 

Taking the side door off shows us all the hardware goodies inside including the key: three Radeon HD 7970 cards.  Think about that – there is 9GB of graphics memory in this system!!  The MAINGEAR Epic 180 cooler hides the Intel Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X processor and even the Corsair Vengeance memory is color matched.  

Inside the drive cages you can see the two (also red colored) Corsair Force GT 120 GB SSDs and the single standard spinning hard drive.

In our testing with some games we were drawing more than 1050 watts power at the wall, so yes, the Corsair 1200 watt Professional Series unit is definitely a necessity!

Our system also included a white LED internally that does a pretty nifty job of framing the components that you will no doubt want to show off if you buy a Shift with these kinds of specs.


It should not be a surprise to anyone that this MAINGEAR Shift system is one of the fastest gaming PCs we have ever used.  With specifications that include a Sandy Bridge-E and a set of three Radeon HD 7970 cards, any gamer would be ecstatic to have it.  But just to give our readers some data points, here are a handful of benchmarks.

With a 3DMark11 scores of over 21,000 the Shift has the fastest graphics system we have ever tested at PC Perspective. 

The CPU tests shown here in POV-Ray and Cinebench 11 match up with our expectations from previous Sandy Bridge-E testing.  

Closing Thoughts

I am sure there many of our readers at this point shaking their heads and telling themselves they could build a much better system for less money than the MAINGEAR Shift we are featuring here today.  And you’re right.  But there are still many people that are dedicated PC gamers but appreciate the build quality, the ability to custom select your own components and the dedicated support team and warranty that companies like MAINGEAR provide.  It’s not for everyone, and surely not a $6000+ system, but there are niche audiences for every product.

This isn’t our first MAINGEAR review but it is my first time with a Shift and I must say that I am impressed by the build quality and system design.  We have seen other retail cases with the 90 degree rotation but MAINGEAR was the first system builder to implement it and continues to push forward with innovative updates like the custom built water coolers and the Epic Audio system.  The system components are not unique though – that is a problem for all system builders to differentiate – but MAINGEAR is one of the few builders to really find ways to stand out.

Obviously performance was amazing on a machine like this and though we only showed you a handful of tests, we had several PCPer’s use and game on the machine while it was the office and we played just about all popular PC titles available on it.  Battlefield 3 wasn’t a problem, Crysis 2 was a breeze and Metro 2033 was easy for the Shift to handle.  Doing any kind of CPU-based tasks showed why the Sandy Bridge-E platform is still the current high-end leader in performance.  While you can of course configure a MAINGEAR PC any way you want to, this model we used was seemingly unstoppable. 

If you are the kind of user looking for a pre-built monster gaming rig, then MAINGEAR is a perfect place to start your search.  Be prepared to exercise that credit card but you should also be prepared for a great experience when doing so.

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