gift guide 2009

Review: Maingear PC X-Cube 3D

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mg1Boutique PC companies have it rough these days, unless they come up with something truly original or compelling, it’s extremely difficult to fight against the bargain brands. However, for those willing to spend a few extra dollars, some amazing machines are out there. One such brand is MainGear PC, one of the relative newcomers to the game. Maingear recently sent us one of their X-Cube 3D Vision machines to review, and it’s quite impressive.

Obviously this machine was designed to be used by the LAN party crowd, since Maingear decided to use a Silverstone Sugo case. Generally speaking I don’t like to see high end components in a mini-ATX style case, as they have a tendency to over heat and the power supply rarely has enough juice to do the job. Silverstone overcame this by using multiple fans in the lid, and making the case large enough for a full size power supply. The side effect of this is that the case is quite loud. Of course, considering the specs, this is to be expected.

Performance and specs
This machine definitely has the power to get things done, in fact I think it’s safe to say this has to be one of the fastest machines I’ve ever used:
Processor: Core i7 920 (2.67GHz)
Chipset: DFI Lanparty Jr. X58-T3H6
RAM: 6GB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz
PSU: Silverstone Strider 1000w
Video: NVidia GeForce GTX 295 1792 GDDR3

The “3D” in the X-Cube 3D comes from the Nvidia 3D Vision goggles that also came with this system, combined with the Samsung SyncMaster 2233rz monitor. While this is available as an add-on to the X-Cube, you’ll have to decide whether the 3D option is for you. I would encourage caution since the goggle technology is still a little rough and caused headaches. They also made the games look REALLY cool, and there was minimal framerate loss when the goggles were active.

Speaking of performance, this machine really shines. In 3dMark06, the X-Cube scored a very respectable 18293, and in PCMark05, a 12085. Of course, if you’re like me those numbers are nice, but what really matters is the FPS when you are gaming.

>In World Of Warcraft (yeah, I know it’s a bit old, but I wanted to see it in 3D) my settings were completely maxed out, and running at 1680×1050, the max that the Samsung supports. I consistently saw 77 FPS, even in some of the new Lich King areas that are notoriously slow. When using the 3D goggles the FPS did take a slight performance hit, coming in at an average of 63 FPS, which is still very smooth and definitely playable.

>Far Cry 2 gave the machine a much harder time, again running at 1680×1050, with AAx4, Bloom on, and the rest of the settings at very high. The “Farm” demo delivered 70 FPS, and in actual game play I consistently ran at about 65 FPS. The 3D goggles again created a bit of a performance issue, dropping the average FPS to about 52 during actually game play. This created some minor issues when there were large explosions going off, but the added cool factor of the goggles outweighed the performance hit.

What I didn’t like
Now not everything is perfect about this system. There were a couple of flaws, admittedly fairly minor. One issue is the blue LED’s on the front of the case. Silverstone decided for whatever reason to use LED’s bright enough to compete with the sun, and so you definitely know when the computer is on. In fact, no other lights are needed in the room when the computer is on as a result. A more serious issue showed up on the back on the computer. After unpacking the machine I noticed that the case cover didn’t have any screws in it, and the metal plate that goes over the USB, network, and sound ports on the back of the machine was pretty bent up. A minor issue, but still not something you’d expect from a company that spent so much time on making sure the cabling was run correctly.

Bottom Line
So the X-Cube 3D came with the Samsung SyncMaster 2233rz monitor, Razor Death Adder mouse, Razor Lycosa keyboard, and the previously mentioned Nvidia 3D Vision goggles. Grand total for what is admittedly a very high end system came in at $3433. Considering today’s economy, I don’t know that many gamers out there are still looking to drop quite that much on a new PC. Keep in mind, the system that Maingear sent us is pretty much a “dream machine” configuration, and you can adjust the specs to your particular needs. Given the performance of this machine however, I would say that it is a good deal, and I would recommend Maingear as a pc builder.

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