Building The SHIFT, Maingear's DIY Kit

Performance Quick-Take and Wrap-Up

And finally, here's a quick lap around the benchmark track.

PCMark 7 and 3DMark 11 Performance
General Performance and Gaming Performance Snapshot

It may sound cliche' but these are some of the best scores we've seen in either PCMark 7 or 3DMark 11.  There's little question that a pair of Radeon HD 7970s would surpass this GeForce GTX 580 SLI setup in 3DMark 11 but it's still a blistering score for the test.  Hands-down our PCMark 7 score here is the fastest we've seen to date, courtesy of OCZ's RevoDrive 3 X2 partially, since the test tends to be fairly disk sensitive.

To say our system build with the Maingear SHIFT DIY kit was a pleasure would be an understatement.  The primary barrier to entry here and our only reservation, is price. At $899, a SHIFT DIY kit, even with Maingear's EPIC 180 water cooler and Aphex audio solution on-board, is an ultra-premium product, like Thermaltake's Level 10 for example.  Still, there are plenty of folks out there that might consider bellying-up for this kind of build quality, performance and style.  Without question, there isn't another chassis design on the market currently quite like the SHIFT, although Silverstone does offer a few case designs with the same 90 degree rotated motherboard area, for a lot less cash.  That said, you'd also have to take into account the cost of Maingear's EPIC Audio Engine and their EPIC 180 water cooler, which are approximately $250 and $125 respectively, along with the cost of a 180mm fan or two, perhaps.  Regardless, that still leaves Maingear's Limited Edition SHIFT DIY kit at a rather steep premium.  This chassis is one of those halo products that you either can justify being somewhat impractical about cost or you can't.

Our opinion is that this chassis design is just plain beautiful.  In terms of its design and layout, it's easily one of our most favorite chassis we've ever worked with. Cable management is neat and clean, while thermal performance and acoustics are best of class. The use of 180mm fans in the design definitely keeps noise levels down, even at full speed and maximum air flow.  Finally, the SHIFT's heavy gauge all aluminum construction with precision fit and finish offer a sense of quality you just don't get with a lot of cases on the market.  We'd suggest that if Maingear were to offer up another option or two of the SHIFT DIY, without EPIC Audio perhaps or maybe even without EPIC cooling, shaving some dollars off the price tag could definitely bring in a few more potential customers who might otherwise be out of reach.  Regardless, as Maingear likes to note, there may be systems and PC chassis out there that are similar to a SHIFT, but they're just not the same.  We'd have to agree.  The Maingear do-it-yourself SHIFT kit may be pricey but we're thoroughly impressed with its combination of style and performance.

  • Super heavy-duty all aluminum construction
  • Sharp lines, classic, clean look
  • Tight fit and finish
  • Great layout with good cable management
  • Great thermal and acoustic performance
  • Pricey
  • Some areas of cable management are a little tight
  • No EPIC Audio on standard audio output

Tags:  Maingear, DIY, shift

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