Maingear SHIFT Super Stock X79 System Review

Article Index

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Every once in awhile we're reminded why we love doing what we do. This is one of those times. It's not that we ever truly forget, but imagine if someone parked a brand new McLaren F1 (or any of the world's Top 10 fastest cars) in your driveway, handed you the keys, and said, "Have fun testing this hunk of metal." That's what it was like receiving the Maingear SHIFT Super Stock X79.

We're not gloating (maybe a little), but how else do we put this into perspective? The SHIFT we received is a fully loaded $7,500 system, and even though we knew it would be fast, it was an absolute thrill to drive. This thing crushed our gamut of benchmarks, save for Batman: Arkham City, which didn't know how to take advantage of CrossFire. In every other test, it set new highs, destroying every system we pitted it against. Perhaps most impressive is how it fared in Cinebench, a professional graphics benchmark that typically makes a mockery of the systems we throw at it, but in this case it was the other way around.


Let's get one thing straight: Few people have the disposable income to afford a $7,500 computer, and even those that do will have a hard time justifying that kind of investment on a PC when you can build a high-end gaming machine for a quarter of that amount, or even less. That's also not the point. You can buy a SHIFT system from Maingear starting at $1,849 for one that's built around AMD's 990FX platform or Intel's Z68 platform, or $2,449 for one that's based on Intel's X79 chipset like the one reviewed here. Those are still relatively expensive when you can pick up a system from Wallyworld or a bulk OEM for less than a grand and be able to play games on it, and there's nothing wrong with that, but the Maingear experience commands a justifiable premium.

What Maingear brings to the table is an impeccable attention to detail and a luxury buying experience. Think white glove treatment. For starters, all Maingear systems ship with zero bloatware. Zip. Zilch. None. Cabling is clean and tidy, just as if you spent hours doing it all yourself. And the SHIFT case is a remarkable design that rotates the motherboard 90 degrees so that your components -- and especially the videocards -- are sitting vertically to blow hot air out the top of the chassis, right where it naturally wants to flow. Topping it off is a binder with a personalized Q/A report on your specific system, qualified and John Hancock'd by the person who built it. That's rad.

As configured, this particular system showcases what Maingear is capable of when you're not restricted by a budget. As we stated earlier, this system is obscene, and it offers no apology for it. Instead, it smashes benchmarks and computing chores with all the force of the Incredible Hulk swatting a fly. Do you need a system like this? Probably not. Can you afford it? Only you (and your accountant) can answer that. Should you buy it if you have the money? Only if you want one of the fastest (and arguably best looking) systems on the planet and aren't afraid to pay out the nose to own it. This is a luxury machine, and if you're in a position to afford it without robbing the kids of their college funds, then hey, more power to you.

All that said, there are some things we didn't like about the system. The front panel is outdated and lacks any SuperSpeed USB 3.0 or eSATA ports. There are plenty of these ports available to use, but they're hidden underneath a removable top panel, so if you want to plug in an external drive to copy files over to your system, you have to fetch a screw driver. That's also where the Clear CMOS button is located, and if you're going to experiment with advanced overclocking and BIOS tweaks, you'll want to remove the panel ahead of time, just in case.

Otherwise, this is a premium build with a price tag to match. Maingear's SHIFT Super Stock X79 is wicked fast, super attractive, delightfully decadent, and awesome without apology. If the Dos Equis guy were to ever drink himself to death and end up reincarnated as a PC, this would be it.



  • Really freaking fast
  • Gorgeous paint job
  • Unique case design works with, not against, hot air's tendency to rise
  • Epic Audio Engine works as advertised
  • Super clean interior
  • As future proof as a system can be
  • Really freaking expensive
  • No USB 3.0 or eSATA ports on the front panel

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