Maingear Potenza Super Stock SFF System Review - HotHardware

Maingear Potenza Super Stock SFF System Review

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Notebook makers aren't the only ones trying to cram big performance parts into little form factors. Desktop system builders are attempting the same thing, and if you require proof, all the evidence you need is packed inside Maingear's Potenza Super Stock (SS) gaming PC. Built around the mini-ITX form factor, the Potenza SS is a small form factor (SFF) system that rises above moderate expectations of what a comparatively itty-bitty PC can truly deliver. As it turns out, a mini-ITX rig can pack quite the payload.

It starts with an Intel Ivy Bridge foundation, and Maingear bumped up the default processor option to an unlocked Core i7 3770K chip. Maingear then goosed the CPU past its stock 3.5GHz clockspeed as part of the company's optional Redline overclocking service, and while that's usually asking for trouble in a cramped form factor, cooling chores are carried out by Maingear's Epic 120 Supercooler, a self-contained liquid cooler built by CoolIt. That's some serious hardware for a mini-ITX system, and we haven't even begun to talk about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 graphics card or the speedy Corsair Force GT solid state drive (SSD). We'll get to all that in due course, but first, let's talk size.



This is a compact system that measures just 7.4 inches (W) by 15.6 inches (H) by 9.25 inches (D). It isn't particularly light, as we found out when this editor dropped it on his foot (more on that later), but it's certainly compact. It's not much larger than a typical bookshelf speaker, yet it's remarkably capable thanks to the continued march of technology, which led to Maingear being able to stuff it full of fast hardware. Let's have a look at the configuration Maingear sent us.

Maingear Potenza Super Stock
Specifications & Features
Model

Potenza Super Stock

CPU

Intel Core i7 3770X (Overclocked)

Memory

8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce GTX 670

Storage

120GB Corsair Force GT SSD (OS)
1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM w/ 64MB cache (Storage)

Optical

24X DVD burner w/ Lightscribe

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet; Integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth

Front Panel Ports

2 x USB 3.0; Headphone and Mic

Rear Panel Ports 4 x USB 3.0; 4 x USB 2.0; 2 x eSATA 6Gbps; GbE LAN; Audio Inputs; Optical SPDIF; HDMI; DisplayPort; DVI-I; PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard; Bluetooth module; Clear CMOS Button
Weight


Dimensions

7.4" (W) x 15.6" (H) x 9.25" (D)

Warranty

1 Year Limited Parts & Labor

Price

$2,031.00 (as configured)



Glancing at the parts list and all the amenities, there's nothing to tip that this is a compact PC, though that's quickly revealed when observing the dimensions. As well spec'd as it already is, the Potenza SS is capable of uncorking even more power if you choose to shake more bills out of your wallet. Maingear's configuration page allows you to choose up to 16GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX 680 or Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition graphics card, up to three hard drives or SSDs configured in a RAID array, Blu-ray burner or reader, and more.

One thing you can't upgrade on the Potenza SS is the 450W power supply. That shouldn't be an issue since you're not going to feed this rig multiple graphics cards, but a 650W or even 550W PSU would make us feel better about things. Our quibble with the sole PSU choice aside, there's not a ton to criticize here, but there's plenty to like.
 

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Eventually everything gets smaller and slimmer. I wasn't too long ago that flat screen monitors were replaced CRT monitors. Perhaps gaming rigs much farther in the future will shrink down to the size of a Mac Mini or even further, a Raspberry Pi.

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The problem that I find with a lot of mini itx cases is usually their depth, If you want to build a system with a decent graphics card then it can get too deep to fit inside a media cabinet. By mounting the graphic card vertically Maingear solved this problem but I guess ran into another problem of having the back I/O in an awkward position. Either way this is a powerful and small system.

Can this be the prize for the next contest?? That would be AWESOME!!

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Why does Maingear KEEP releasing stuff as if they designed and manufactured it themselves, when they are really just re-badging great designs/products from others?

The case is from Silverstone (FT03-mini).

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=333

I built an i5 based HTPC with one several months ago, and it IS a brilliant case and will fit dual-slot video cards unlike a lot of mini-ITX solutions. The 140mm fan blowing air from the bottom of the case up through the chassis and out the top grill works brilliantly.

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MCaddick:

Why does Maingear KEEP releasing stuff as if they designed and manufactured it themselves, when they are really just re-badging great designs/products from others?

The case is from Silverstone (FT03-mini)

I'm so glad someone said this.

I like Maingear, the computers they build are relatively well priced for prebuilt machines, and are always nice eye-candy.

But this is not their case. Neither is their flagship case either; that's a SilverStone too. They should at least credit SIlverStone when describing the case on the build page. It's not a Maingear i5/i7, it's intel. so why can't they call it the Maingear Potenza, that uses the FT03 Mini?

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@MCaddick you are absolutely right, I saw a video review for that case a while back and realized my mistake once I read your post. As for the other builds from Maingear they are usually parts that anybody can throw together (I don't know why I thought they made a case out of no where). it's mainly the Maingear laptops that impress me. 

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Maingear astounds once again. Definitely one of the tops when it comes to high performance builds. I certainly wouldn't mind one of these for a portable gaming system.

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The only thing I like about this is the case, build quality, and pre-built. What I don't like THE PRICE for what you get, I'd prefer to build my own if that meant that I would save a few bucks to get the same results.

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It performs well. I think I would prefer not to have the Maingear name brightly painted on it. The case looks good without that flash on it.

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