For many of you, Maingear Computer may not be a household name and that would probably be just fine with the folks out at the shop in Union New Jersey. Loosely classified as a specialty high performance system builder and retailer, Maingear's mission statement on style, performance and quality claims that they strive to not just provide customers with a computer but rather with a "way of life". That's certainly fitting because the target demographic for the type of machines Maingear builds, probably sees high performance computing as a way of life as well. In short, Maingear has a tall order to fill catering to the computing enthusiast, but you all knew that we suspect. That's why you're here at HotHardware right now. The Maingear Ephex high performance gaming system we'll be looking at in the following pages is just the type of high-end product we like to sink our teeth into around here.
In the pages ahead, we'll go through the design, build quality and performance of Maingear's Ephex high performance gaming system configured with 3-Way SLI technology from NVIDIA. We were introduced to Maingear in the process of NVIDIA's 3-Way SLI launch, when NVIDIA had the company ship us a system to test and evaluate 3-Way SLI technology in general. Obviously, NVIDIA felt Maingear's Ephex system build was high quality enough to send out to the press on behalf of their new 3-Way SLI technology. So the question is, beyond 3-Way SLI, does Maingear's Ephex live up to customer expectations of a super high-end gaming system as whole? That's why we're here, so let's journey on.
The Maingear Ephex system we received was configured with an NVIDIA 680i chipset-based motherboard from EVGA as well as an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor that is based on the original 65nm Kentsfield architecture. Since we received the system in December, NVIDIA has come out with the new nForce 780i chipset which supports Intel's new 1,333MHz FSB for the 45nm Core 2 Extreme QX9650 quad-core processor as well. Maingear will actually ship systems based on this newer configuration moving forward. As you'll note in the system specs above, the QX6850 CPU is water-cooled and overclocked from the factory at 3.8GHz. In addition, a 4GHz model is available now as well, based on the nForce 780i and Core 2 Extreme QX9650 configuration, should you feel the need for even more speed beyond what is obviously already a dragster configuration.
Maingear includes a 3 Year Premium Protection plan as the only warranty option available with their Ephex line of high-end systems. Within this warranty plan, Maingear claims they'll "take care of you like a new born and make sure that every last one of your needs is taken care of with remarkable grace". Now those are bold claims. Maingear has toll free technical support hours from 9AM to 7PM EST Monday through Saturday which obviously isn't as extensive as some of the bigger names in the business that offer 24/7 coverage, but then again, when you do call, you'll at least get someone on the line from good ol' Union new Jersey that can speak your language and understands the product intimately, instead of some outsourced meat-sack in a far away land reading from a call script.
Our particular test unit came with a flat black brushed aluminum finish, though custom paint jobs like the gorgeous blue flame artwork seen above are also available. Let's get a closer look at the outside skins of this beast, next...