Maingear SHIFT Super Stock X79 System Review

PCMark & 3DMark Tests

Touting Intel's flagship Core i7 3960X processor overclocked to 4.8GHz, three of the fastest single-GPU videocards on the planet (AMD Radeon HD 7970), and two blistering fast SSDs (Corsair Force GT 240GB) in a RAID 0 configuration, our performance expectations were through the roof. To kick things off we fire up Futuremark's system performance benchmark, PCMark Vantage. This synthetic benchmark suite simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here, and most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

With a little bit of tweaking, such as disabling background services and fine tuning the RAM, the SHIFT Super Stock X79 would be able to top 30,000 points. The system fell just shy of that mark during our test run, thrashing every other system we've ever reviewed, and showed a marked improvement over Maingear's 2010 model SHIFT. PCMark Vantage evaluates overall system performance, and since the SHIFT doesn't really have any weak spots, it's no surprise that it hit the ground running the way that it did.

We built a system inside Maingear's SHIFT DIY kit back in February that consisted of an Intel Core i7 3960X processor, two GeForce GTX 580 videocards in SLI, and an OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2. After benchmarking the system, we said "Hands-down our PCMark 7 score here is the fastest we've seen to date." That score was 5,396, or more than 1,000 points lower than the system Maingear built for this review. In-freaking-credible.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark 11
Simulated Gaming Performance

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows Vista and 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option, as well as ran the system through a 3DMark Vantage run, which focuses on DirectX 10.

Maingear set out to prove a point in the same fashion as a person who swats a fly with a rocket launcher. The SHIFT's 3DMark Vantage score isn't just ridiculous in the way it decimated every other gaming system we're able to compare it with, it also would qualify as the 16th fastest score in Futuremark's Hall of Fame, only we weren't able to submit the score because AMD's new Catalyst 12.2 drivers hadn't yet been certified by Futuremark at the time of this writing. And if you think that's impressive...

...check out the Extreme preset score, which would currently rank as No. 5 in Futuremark's Hall of Fame. In other words, the hefty investment required to own a system like this buys you one of the fastest consumer systems ever assembled and major benchmarking bragging rights.

The SHIFT scored 19,486 in Futuremark's 3DMark 11, a score that barely missed out on qualifying for a Top 20 spot in the Hall of Fame, with the No. 20 spot going to a system that scored 20,000 with four GeForce GTX 580 videocards in SLI. Suffice to say, the system Maingear sent us will definitely run Crysis and any other game now available or currently in development.

The Extreme preset score is twice as high as the one we recorded when we built a system in the SHIFT DIY kit and, like every other benchmark up to this point, is the fastest we've ever recorded.

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