Paradigm SHIFT: MainGear's Unique Gaming Rig Tested

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The SHIFT: Interior Design

Now that we've worked our way around the external elements, let's pop off a side panel (both made from very light aluminum) and have a peek inside. 

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These three shots are grouped together to give a multi-angle view of how MainGear has designed the case. The thumbnail to the left gives a view of the GTX 480s in SLI and the ventilation grill we saw earlier at the top rear of the case.Just to the right you've got the Asetek CPU watercooler, the radiator mount, and the various drive bays.

The middle shot establishes how the various components fit into the chassis. The SHIFT's side-stacked 3.5" drive bays rest just below the 5.25" drives. The empty area below the HDD mounts is presumably meant for a second chassis fan should the HDDs require one. Unlike most cases, the SHIFT pointedly eschews front-panel fans in favor of its vertical configuration. If you look at the area below the video cards you can see the white 1400 RPM exhaust fan that blows directly over the video cards and the system's 1.2kW Silverstone PSU nestled just below that.

Finally, there's the straight-on perspective. The SHIFT's cable routing is very good; there's nothing hanging loose that could impede system airflow. We're not thrilled with the paper-thin gap between the video cards—this sort of configuration inevitably results in Card 0 running significantly hotter than Card 1—but MainGear obviously didn't have an infinite amount of space when it came to mounting a standard  motherboard in a decidedly nonstandard chassis. The Asus P6X58D at the heart of the system technically supports Tri-SLI, and all three cards will fit in the SHIFT...tightly.

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These two photos are tighter focuses on areas we've already discussed. The motherboard's expandibility is limited to just one PCIe x1 slot and accessing any USB or FireWire headers that aren't in use would be tricky at best. The other photo highlights the SHIFT's hybrid steel/aluminum frame. MainGear opted for a hybrid frame as a means of reducing case weight without sacrificing structural integrity. Aluminum cases are notorious for sympathetic vibration or ringing but MainGear assured us the SHIFT doesn't suffer from this problem. Based on our experience, they're right.

If you look at the back of the photo you can see the right panel's air intake grill—the SHIFT relies on negative pressure to draw air in through the bottom and side panels. 

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