Alright, we'll come right out and gush a little bit. Our cynical, sometimes overly-critical opinions can occasionally be tempered by momentary flashes of greatness. We see a lot of high-end (and low-end) gear around here, so after a while, you can't stop your eyeballs from glossing over and a yawn from escaping from the cranium. However, when Maingear computers first stepped out with their high-end SHIFT line of gaming and workstation PCs, we took note and were genuinely impressed; a bit of rarefied air if you will. It wasn't so much the component selection that stood out, but it was the excellent build quality and the SHIFT's 90-degree rotated layout that caused our double-take, and ultimately put Maingear on the map as a major player in the space.
We even liked the design so much that we eventually paid the folks at Maingear a visit to see their operation first hand and witness the birth of a SHIFT PC for ourselves. Maingear definitely impressed us on a number of fronts, from their revolutionary PC designs, to their eat-off-the-floor, tidy manufacturing line in scenic New Jersey, and stand-up staff members and management. But enough of the gushing. You get the drift. Maingear's products may not be the low price watermark, but they definitely set the high quality bar up a notch or three.
Recently Maingear announced that they'd be offering a DIY SHIFT chassis and cooling system kit for a limited time, to folks that might want to try their hand at building a SHIFT-infused PC for themselves. At $899 for the case, Maingear's integrated Aphex audio enhancement solution, and a Maingear Epic 180 close-looped water cooler, this DIY kit isn't for the weekend warrior, but rather for the elite power user looking to build something special.
We tried our hand at building our very own SHIFT and will step through the process with you here with some hands-on footage and then show you a few performance data points to complete the picture.
Maingear Limited Edition SHIFT Chassis Kit
Specifications & Features
Dimensions 24 inches (H)
8.6 inches (W)
21.5 inches (D)
Average configured system weight - 60 lbs
Up to 6 HDDs (or 12 SSDs) with numerous SSD and mechanical drive options
Dual 180mm fans (upgradable)
Watercooled with dual radiator options
EPIC 180 closed-loop water cooler, maintenance free
90 degree rotation for vertical heat dissipation
Rear PSU exhaust and power cable connection
Top 120mm exhaust fan and IO cable management
Kit retail price: $899
Right, it's built like a tank at 60lbs and with 180mm cooling fans, in addition to the 180mm radiator in the Epic 180 self-contained water cooler, this PC case means business in every way. The nice thing about being able to support such large fans is that you don't need to spin up to very audible levels in order to move a lot of air. Though whether you consider thermals or acoustics as your own personal leading indicator, it's really not large fans or the water cooler that make the SHIFT, well, a SHIFT.
That's it right there. Pull back that top chassis cover and you expose the rear motherboard IO panel, and card slots. Thermally, the SHIFT is designed to push and vent all warm air out of the top of the case and mechanically, cable management is handled that way as well, with a quick left-angle turn routing all lines through a simple pass-through in the rear of the chassis. Let's take a closer look.