Wrap-up and High Level Evaluation
Performance Summary: In terms of general workstation or business application performance, when we looked at processing power or memory bandwidth, the Maingear Ephex was the most powerful machine in our test group, many times by sizable margins. Literally across the board, the Ephex, with its overclocked 3.8GHz Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor, blew past any standard clocked reference system we put it up against. Though we didn't offer 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9770 numbers in our comparisons, we'd offer that you compare notes to our QX9770 launch article if you'd like as well and you'll see the Ephex's performance is impressive there too.
From a gaming performance standpoint, you simply can't currently buy a faster machine than one that is configured with NVIDIA's 3-Way SLI technology, like the Maingear Ephex. There is but one caveat to this and that is you simply must be running at resolutions or 1920X1200 and up to really see the tangible benefits of 3-Way SLI. Anything short of that and you're just wasting power and GPU cycles. In reality, a standard dual-GPU SLI configuration may be more practical overall.
We've spent a solid month testing and working with the Maingear Ephex high performance gaming system. Though our system came factory overclocked at a robust 3.8GHz processor speed, along with not one but three GeForce 8800 Ultras in its slots, the system performed flawlessly, never once showing any sign of instability. This in and of itself is a sizable achievement, given its power consumption and the thermal challenges that come with the territory in an elite high-end configuration like this. There's really no secret to Maingear's achievement here though, as solid component selection, meticulous build quality and cable management usually equates to a high quality system when all is said and done. The Ephex was an excellent example of what a smaller high quality system builder can put together with proper attention to detail. If Maingear stays on this path, they may not remain that small for long.
The final question we have to ask ourselves is with respect to value. Without question, the Maingear Ephex 3-Way SLI gaming system is a very expensive system, that obviously equates to the sum of its parts. When you're starting with over $2000 in graphics cards and processors alone, it's obvious that you're looking at a system that will need a bit of executive clearance with your significant other. Quite frankly, we'd suggest serious gamers look at the Ephex with a standard SLI or single GPU configuration, since 3-Way is squarely targeted to those where money is simply no object. Regardless of how you slice it though, Maingear certainly knows how to build 'em right. Hats off Maingear - the Ephex has landed and she's sitting pretty.