Maingear SHIFT Super Stock X79 System Review

Introduction & Specifications

One of Merriam-Webster's definitions for the word obscene is "so excessive as to be offensive." By that definition, Maingear sent us an obscenely spec'd SHIFT Super Stock X79 system packed to the hilt with so much decadent hardware that even the one percenters would feel guilty owning it, right up until the moment they pushed the power button and remembered exactly why it's so fun to be filthy rich. As configured, this thing costs $7,570, and that's after deducting $100 as part of Maingear's 'Spring Savings' promotion and before tacking on another $100 or so for shipping. It's not a configuration most of us will ever own -- it's more than half the price of a 5-door Kia Rio, for crying out loud -- but damn, it sure is fun to window shop, isn't it?

Before we go any further, understand you don't need to sit around and wait for a rich relative to croak and leave you with a fat inheritance to afford a Maingear system. On the flip side, if you often find there's too much month at the end of the money, a SHIFT system probably isn't the best way to spend your pieces of eight. SHIFT desktops start at $1,849 for systems built around AMD's 990FX platform, $1,849 for Intel Z68 configurations, and $2,449 for Intel X79 setups like the one featured here. Add another grand for Super Stock builds, which come pre-configured with higher-end components. If you want the Maingear experience on a Walmart budget, the boutique system builder sells less expensive models, including the X-Cube ($649 and up), Vybe ($879 and up), and F131 ($1,099 and up). Savvy? Let's move on.

Packed inside this wallet-busting behemoth is an Intel Core i7-3960X processor nestled into an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard and cooled by Maingear's EPIC 180 Supercooler. As if going with Intel's flagship Sandy Bridge-E processor with six cores and 15MB of cache wasn't enough, Maingear cranked the chip up to 4.8GHz, well above its default 3.2GHz clockspeed. Wipe up your drool, we're just getting started. Maingear flanked the overclocked six-core chip with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 RAM installed in quad-channel formation, two Corsair Force GT 240GB solid state drives (SSDs) in a RAID 0 configuration, a massive 3TB Barracuda XT hard drive to store your collection of Katie Morgan videos, and the pièce de résistance, three -- yes, THREE -- AMD Radeon HD 7970 cards running in CrossFireX mode. Now you may commence drooling.

All of this awesome hardware (and more) is featured in Maingear's SHIFT chassis, a unique enclosure built by Silverstone to facilitate natural airflow through a vertical cooling design better suited for multiple, high-heat videocards. The system's rear panel actually sits at the top of the chassis and is covered by a removable portion of the panel to prevent cables from becoming an eyesore. You can actually buy a DIY SHIFT chassis and cooling kit for a limited time, which we recently featured.

Maingear SHIFT Super Stock X79
Specifications & Features

SHIFT Super Stock X79


Intel Core i7 3960X (Overclocked)


16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866


3 x AMD Radeon HD 7970 in CrossFire


2 x Corsair Force GT SSD (RAID 0)
Seagate Barracuda XT  3TB 64MB cache, 7200 RPM, SATA 6Gbps)


12X LG SuperMulti Blu-ray/DVD Burner with Software

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Wired Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet

Front Panel Ports

2 x USB 2.0; Firewire; Headphone and Mic

Rear (Top) Panel Ports 8 x USB 2.0; 4 x USB 3.0; 2 x eSATA 6Gbps; GbE LAN; Audio Inputs; Optical SPDIF; Coaxial SPDIF; Integrated memory card reader

~60 pounds (average)


24" x 21.5" x 8.6" (HxDxW)


2 Year


$7,570 as configured

Only in a $7,500 system would a Blu-ray burner and four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports barely warrant a mention. Apple's Tim Cook can talk all he wants about the post-PC era (wouldn't that mean it's the post-Macintosh era too?) while companies like Maingear continue to build lust-worthy systems that would make an iPad soil itself. It was hard not to dirty our own boxers when carefully lifting this 60-pound system out of its crate, constantly conscious of the fact that if we dropped it, we'd have some serious explaining to do when reluctantly returning it to Maingear.

But we didn't drop it and instead lobbed a bunch of benchmarks at the SHIFT Super Stock in vain attempts to make it break a sweat, or at least try to get it to stop yawning. Screw the suspense folks, this is hands down the fastest system we've ever tested, and on the following pages, we'll show you just how well it performed.

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