The Potenza is so small, sleek, and dark, that it would be easy to miss – if it weren’t for the bright-red, backlit Maingear logo cut into the aluminum front panel. The logo is the only noticeable light on the system, inside or out. Even the fan at the base of the system lacks lighting.
In fact, the sides of the Potenza are so clean that you won’t even find a power button on them. Aside from the logo, the only item to blemish the PC’s monolithic aesthetic is the slot for the DVD drive, which sits vertically at the front. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.
The rest of the ports are at the top of the system. There, you’ll find two USB ports, the power and reset button, and audio ports. To access the rest, you lift off the plastic lid. This is where things get interesting: not only are the motherboard’s I/O tray and graphics card ports hiding just below the Potenza’s lid, but so is the power supply. That’s right: you plug the power supply in at the top of the system and then run the cord out a nearby hole. There’s a groove in side of the external port tray that lets the power supply cord escape from the back of the PC. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in cord router to guide the power cord to the bottom of the PC, so it tends to dangle from the back-top of the system.
Obviously, having the motherboard and power supply in such close proximity makes for an unusual layout inside the Potenza’s chassis. There isn’t room for a large CPU heatsink, which is why the liquid cooler comes in so handy here. It pulls the heat down to the radiator at the bottom of the system, where the Silverstone fan cools things off.
The cabling job isn’t as pretty as I’ve seen in other Maingear systems. Then again, the Potenza’s layout leaves very little room for channeling cords out of sight. That lack of space also makes the hard drive somewhat hard to reach for upgrades.
The GTX 660 sits right at the front of the system, just behind the front panel. Its fans are very close to the front panel, but that doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on the card’s performance. I didn’t encounter any signs of instability in the system, even when it was under heavy loads.
As for the fan at the bottom of the system, which sits about a half-inch above the table surface, thanks to the system’s feet, it seems that Maingear is missing an opportunity here. As I mentioned earlier, the fan has no lights. LED fans are easy to come by, and the light from an LED fan could cast a red glow on the desk. The look would complement the backlit logo nicely.
The Potenza is an SFF system, so its size matters – particularly its footprint on your desk. At 7.5 inches wide by 14.75 inches high by 9.25 inches deep, it doesn’t take up much room at all. And at 20 pounds (give or take), it’s easy enough to lug to LAN parties.