Maingear Vybe Review: Dual GTX 1070s And Kaby Lake Cranked To 5GHz

Maingear Vybe: Design And Build Quality

There are three starting points broken down into two "Stages" for configuring a Vybe desktop. A Stage 1 configuration starts at $999 and can be built around an Intel H110 or Z270 platform, while a Stage 2 starts at $1,599 and consists of an X99 foundation. The setup Maingear put together for us to review is a Stage 1 system featuring a Kaby Lake processor nestled into a Z270-chipset motherboard.

Maingear Vybe

For the configuration that costs over $3,400, the Vybe is not overbearing in size or appearance. It is built inside an NZXT S340 chassis with Maingear's own branding, checking in at 17.51 x 17 x 7.78 inches (HxDxW) and around 45 pounds. This is the least flashiest of all the desktops Maingear offers, though don't mistake that to mean boring. The clean lines go well with Maingear's logo, and the side window prevents this from being a sleeper system—one peek inside at the dual graphics cards lets you know this is a hotrod, not a family sedan.

Buyers who want to further flaunt their system can pay to have Maingear give the case an automotive finish in a range of glossy color options that run $499. For $599, buyers can choose a custom color with either a matte or glossy finish. We've seen Maingear's work in this regard before and can say the results are professional looking—buyers who go this route are paying for a high-quality paint job, not a quick and dirty coat of color.

A less expensive option, and one that is included on our configuration, is an LED light strip that runs along the front and top panels on the inside. There is no cost to add an amber or green light strip, or buyers can opt for a multi-color strip with remote control for $69. This gives the Vybe a pleasant glow that compliments to the LED lighting coming from the graphics cards and CPU cooler.

Maingear Vybe Top Panel

The front I/O port sits on top of the case and consists of two USB 3.0 ports, separate headphone and microphone jacks, a power switch that glows red, and a drive activity LED.

There is a gap between the main section of the chassis and the front panel. That is to allow cool air to be sucked into the case. It may seem like the design would actually restrict airflow and hinder cooling, but in our rigorous testing, this was not a problem—cool air had no trouble finding its way inside the chassis.

The downside to this design is that it takes an uncomfortable amount of force to pry the front panel off. This is required on occasion to more easily reach the magnetically attached fan filter that sits in front. For anyone who has hesitation with forcefully pulling the panel off at risk of breaking the plastic clips, the fan filter can also be remove by reaching down in the gap and lifting from the lip. It's not overly difficult to remove or replace the filter in this manner, it's just not as easily accessible.

Maingear Vybe Interior
Maingear's cable management is impeccable

Maingear Vybe Graphics Cards
2 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards connected with high bandwidth SLI bridge

Maingear's attention to detail with its case wiring here is impeccable. Even our own Marco Chiappetta would have to be impressed with the ultra-clean layout. The few cables that extend into the main section are neatly organized and taut, leaving the main motherboard area completely free from clutter. This allows air to more easily flow through the system without running into obstructions, a sometimes overstated benefit (the reduction in temps is often small or negligible, unless dealing with a badly cluttered layout), and also gives the system a luxurious look. This is one of the things that separates a boutique build from pre-built systems by bulk OEMs.

For a $99 up-charge, Maingear will sleeve the power supply cabling to one of several different color options. In this case, they're braided in red, a popular complement to black and a color combination that is in line with Maingear's own branding. You don't get to see much of the cabling, save for the cable runs to the graphics cards and the top portion of the 20+4 pin main power cable.

Maingear gets kudos for using a custom high bandwidth SLI bridge to pair the two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards. It sits behind a custom faceplate with Maingear's logo prominently displayed. While HB bridges are an added cost to end users, they're able to pass more data through faster, for high resolution gaming.

In addition, as we'll show in our benchmarks, Maingear's higher CPU overclock, in some cases, was able to push the Vybe out ahead of Cybertron's CLX Ra with dual GeForce GTX 1080 cards, in more CPU-bound test scenarios.

Maingear Vybe Waterblock
Maingear's Epic 240 Supercooler provide ample cooling for the overclocked Core i7-7700K processor

To keep that overclocked Core i7-7700K from overheating, Maingear installed its Epic 240 Supercooler, a closed-loop liquid cooler that is essentially a rebadged Corsair Hydro Series H100i, which itself is built by CoolIT Systems. It consists of a copper plate water block attached to tubing that runs to and from a 240mm radiator installed in the front of the case.

Cooling is further aided by a 140mm fan up top and a 140mm in the rear, both of which blow air out of the case. The overall cooling setup is fairly quiet and effective—even with Prime95 and FurMark running at the same time, the cooling does not get obnoxiously loud.

Maingear Vybe Wiring Rear

One way to cheat at cable management is to tidy up the front of the case and haphazardly shove all the excess behind the back panel. It's the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality, one that many of us learned as kids, shoving toys and clothes underneath the bed. Well, Maingear didn't cheat here.

Ripping off the right-side panel reveals a careful bundling of excess cables. They're neatly organized and routed along the edges, which can make following wires easier if and when the need arises. By that same token, it also means an added investment in time when adding, subtracting, or upgrading a component. It is certainly worth the effort though, even if the result will rarely be seen. There are obvious thermal benefits here too. 

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