Conclusion: There’s no way to argue with the performance of the Shift. It’s not unusual for a new desktop to outperform the ones we have previously reviewed. Hardware is constantly progressing, so each new system is likely to be quicker than the ones before. The Shift, however, completely blows away previous systems in numerous benchmarks. The trio of brand new Radeons is certainly part of the reason for its edge, but the Intel Core i7-3960X is also part of the story.
Pros: Attractive enclosure, Surprisingly quiet, Incredible CPU and GPU performance, 3-year hardware warranty with lifetime support
Cons: Enclosure is less intuitive than it looks, Ports are difficult to access, Expensive
Excerpt: How far can you take a Sandy Bridge processor? We’ve heard that even extreme overclockers seem to hit a wall just beyond 5GHz with Intel’s darling new chip. Whatever the limitations, Maingear seems content to take its Shift Super Stock to the brink of madness by clocking the 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K to 5GHz. The company credits some of that high overclock to its new partnership with CoolIT and the use of a massive and exclusive 18cm EPIC cooler.
Pros: Two GeForce GTX 590s, two Vertex 3s, and a 5GHz 2600K!
Cons: Pricey; paint job has a couple of rough spots.
Excerpt: Thanks to the help of an expertly overclocked Intel "Sandy Bridge" CPU and a smart choice of components, the Shift Super Stock brings bleeding-edge performance a fair bit closer to affordability.
Excerpt: How do you tell a desktop built by an enthusiast from one pieced together at a boutique shop? Typically, if you strip away a handful of case stickers, the answer is: “You can’t.” While big names like Alienware and HP’s Voodoo arm can custom-order parts to spec, many smaller outfits are still left cobbling together gaming PCs with the same basic parts available to the end user.
Summary: Maingear's Shift is the boutique vendor's new flagship gaming PC. It brings almost everything we expect to find in such a system, from expert craftsmanship to fast overclocking to a case that makes a statement. We found a few minor sticking points, but, on the whole, this PC sits comfortably alongside the top tier of luxury gaming boxes, and we recommend it if you have the means.
Pros: Distinctive case design; pristine internal cabling; competitive specs for its price; relatively power efficient, as long as you don't leave it in sleep mode; strong customer service.
Cons: Adding hard drives is a pain because of drive bay and cable layout; you can achieve similar performance with a less expensive CPU.
Excerpt: It’s no secret that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 cards are the hottest piece of technology people want to gawk at right now. Hell, we were barely able to obtain one of these coveted babies for our feature on Fermi this month . So we were pretty impressed to crack open Maingear’s new Shift system and find three GTX 480 boards running in tri-SLI. That the company could rate such bounty is testament to its street cred among power users.
Pros: Tri-SLI Fermi and 4GHz Gulftown equals pure joy.
Cons: Loud in gaming; puts out enough heat to cook bacon.