Maingear Potenza Super Stock SFF System Review
Overall Design & Layout
As configured, the Potenza weighs 18.1 pounds, and you'll feel every bit of it if you manage to drop the system on your foot, as this editor did. The Potenza sports a four main panel design constructed from 2.5mm slabs of sand-blasted and anodized aluminum (Silverstone, which builds the case, tells us "the surface treatment is similar to what Apple does now with their aluminum bodied computers, but with an extra step of black dye application"), three of which snap into place. You have to take extra care when picking up or unboxing the system, as it doesn't take a ton of pressure to remove any of the panels, sending the Potenza on a crash course with the ground courtesy of Mr. Gravity. It's a bit awkward to transport in that respect, but manageable if you scoop your hands underneath any two of the four feet that surround the bottom of each panel.
Aesthetically, the Potenza adopts an unassuming design that could easily be mistaken for a small subwoofer, at least from a distance. Maingear says the system is 76 percent smaller than its mighty SHIFT, which we reviewed in March, and a full 46 percent smaller than Maingear's redesigned F131. Maingear's assessment that "the Potenza looks great from any angle" is spot on.
This vertical orientation means that the rear I/O panel now sits at the top as well. A plastic cover pops off to reveal the motherboard's assortment of USB and eSATA ports, and it doesn't require any tools to remove it like the SHIFT does; it snaps right off with a little tug. On either side are narrow pathways that slide cables in and out of (like your mouse, keyboard, and power cord), along with a smaller groove in the front.
For quick access to things like USB thumb drives or to remove pictures from a tablet or digital camera, the Potenza offers access to a pair of USB 3.0 ports on top without having to ever remove the plastic panel. There are also head and microphone jacks on top, and a physical power and reset buttons.