Maingear F131: Solid Contender

by Matt Campbell on 11/12/2008 2:00 AM EST


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  • CEO Ballmer - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    I run two of these towers, tricked out!
    These things are the very definition of cool!">
  • pervisanathema - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    In the past 3 years, I have ordered over 400 Dell PCs, about 3 dozen laptops, and about 2 dozen servers. I have yet to see a piece of equipment that failed to boot on arrival.

    Praising a manufacturer for having a PC that boots on arrival is like praising a car dealer for having a new car that starts up when you test drive it.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    See above: it's the large GPUs, HSFs, and cooling that cause problems. I remember getting a review system a couple years back that had a giant styrofoam insert inside the case, just to help protect things during shipping. It helped secure the cables and cooling devices, but it was rather over-the-top. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    I think some of the Dell XPS's did at one time, or still do ship with a Styrofoam insert. And I remember the review of that system you're talking about, or at least remember you guys talking about the insert.

    With FedEx, and UPS in different areas tossing boxes around like they're garbage, it is no wonder. I have had a 21" CRT show up at our shop with the plastic front bezel completely ripped off because of some unscrupulous FedEX person . . .
  • 3DoubleD - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    "As a third point, while the Silverstone case is elegant and functional, it lacks the glitz and glamour that some people might look for in a gaming system. The ability to choose a couple case alternatives would help. Customization options are available for most components, but they are more limited than other vendors and the price premiums are higher than average."

    Please don't encourage them. That is a GREAT looking case. I think just about everyone is sick of the tacky "Gamer" case look. The Silverstone is very minimalistic in appearance (which is a good thing) while being functional. In fact, I think I'd consider buying one, although I've never seen one for sale. Anyway, in my opinion, case manufacturers and pre-built assemblers need to move away from the tacky "gamer" case design that should have died in the earlier part of this decade. Also, they won't offer a case option because it makes the assembly process less standard and you get different quality cases (and perhaps features). I would suggest they stick with one case and design around that case as they have done here.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    Words of wisdom. This bling-bling bullshit with a window and strobes is seriously getting on my nerves. Maybe its the age... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    To each his own; there are plenty of other nice cases out there that don't have tons of bling but can compete with Silverstone. Using a single case helps with assembly and parts ordering for sure, but many other companies offer Silverstone cases as well as about 15 other options. Personally, I think choice is good and that users should be able to get what they want. But then they can: if you don't want Silverstone, you can shop elsewhere. :) Reply
  • Tormeh - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    I would like to see the time it takes to calculate a turn in Civ4...

    Really, back in the days of Civ3 I remember that the time it took from ending a turn until the game responded again could be several minutes. Well, at least in the later stages of the game with the maximum number of AI players and the biggest map you could get, anyway.
  • surt - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    Which really was quite ludicrously bad programming. Even an n^3 algorithm over the number of units or map positions has no excuse for taking minutes to run on a modern processor. Reply
  • Tormeh - Thursday, November 13, 2008 - link

    Well, "back in the days of Civ 3" means that the relevant processor was also "back in the days." :) A high-end Pentium 4, if memory serves. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    No, ludicrously bad programming would be Hellgate: London. CivIV or 3 DO NOT take ridiculously long on even a moderate PC. A couple of minutes towards end of the game with hundreds of cities spread across 8-11 AI players is reasonable. Reply
  • headbox - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    Seriously? A $4,000+ computer booting out of the box is practically "unheard of?"

    The packaging looks terrible. It's like they crammed some stuff into the box a bare case came in. Ever unpack an Apple computer?

    PCs haven't changed for years- metal box, cables everywhere, and the best anyone can do is make the cables a little more tidy than the next guy? You'd think engineers (other than Apple) could come up with a better system to mount a board and PSU into a reliable, stylish and sturdy case by now.
  • Penti - Monday, November 17, 2008 - link

    This seriously isn't designed by engineers.

    It's just stuff independent system-builders put together with retail parts.

    They aren't engineers designing and ordering their custom stuff from OEMs/ODMs/EMSs. They don't try to be and they couldn't. They are into assembling stuff. Buy a Dell if you'd would want something like that. Otherwise just build it yourself as you can buy the same exact parts in shops. That's why they are all cluttered and stuff.
  • D3SI - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    Apple employs engineers? haha good one.
  • Jedi2155 - Thursday, November 13, 2008 - link

    I have to say that Apple probably employs some very damn good engineers. Misguided ones...but damn good ones. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, November 13, 2008 - link

    Not sure if misguided is the word, they just don't mind the functional aspects of the design taking a back seat to the aesthetic aspects. Maybe Apple parties like Max Mosley. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    At work we buy dozens of generic cheapo Dell desktops and I've never had one of those that did not work out of the box. If I were paying this kind of premium for a system, I would certainly be upset if it couldn't do the same. Another thought is that one could buy the components and build it themselves for a lot less money. So I would assume that the person who would be buying this system would be someone who does not want to (or does not know how to) mess with it - and is willing to pay for that. That sort of person is probably going to RMA the system if it doesn't boot out of the box. Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    These systems have large, often dual-slot video cards, extremely heavy copper air coolers or water cooling setups, etc. that make them much trickier to ship than a traditional desktop. Usually it's as simple as reseating the video card or plugging in a S-ATA hard drive. That area does bug me, the S-ATA retention system should really be better. Reply
  • headbox - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    Most people don't know how to reseat a video card or plug in a SATA drive.

    What if you bought a car that didn't work? It could be as simple as connecting the starter. Do you know how to do that?
  • 3DoubleD - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    First of all, this computer isn't $4,000, it was $2130 + Shipping. If it were an Apple, yes it would be $4,000, but fortunately it isn't so we save ~$1,800. Oh wait.. you can't buy a desktop from Apple unless it is the Mac Pro, so you have to get a dual socket Xeon with FB Dimms. To make things worse, you horrible choices for graphics: 4x 2600XT Crossfire (wow that might be as fast as a single 2900XT in optimal conditions), 8800GT (is Apple clearing out old Nvidia/ATI stock or what?) or Quadro FX 5600 ($2,700 upgrade from the 8800GT). To top it off, the case is fugly. What is with the handles?

    As for the unpacking process. The computer tower clearly came in the Styrofoam packaging beneath the tray additional parts (extra PSU cables, display adaptors, ect), instruction manuals, recovery CDs, ect. The only difference between the box used here and the box a Mac comes with is that a team of people at Apple wasted their time designing the box to look good. Only a person who buys a Mac gives a crap about fancy Styrofoam and pretty cardboard. The packing was perfectly functional (as the author mentioned in the article, did you read it?).

    PCs haven't changed for years... that's true as they still use the same parts more or less. I think another interesting observation would be that Macs haven't stopped copying the PC design and branding it as something else for years! I'm really not sure what you are looking for here. How else to you package computer components together? You could use a large case that is optimized for cooling and noise suppression or you can try to cram the components together and optimize for portability. Hmmm maybe you could stick a monitor on that portable computer... ya, that's a great idea... I'd call it a laptop! Get it... because it fits on your lap!

    Finally, do you really think engineers are responsible for the look of Apple's computers or most cosmetic designs for that matter? Usually it is an industrial design artist who's job is to make products look pretty. Unless ergonomics are a factor, an engineer wouldn't even come close to the drawing board. Where the engineer comes into the pictures is to fight with the industrial design artist when they try to hinder the functionality of the original design.

    Anyway, the point was that there is nothing wrong with this computer, it is actually not a horrible deal. If I were 20 years older and had a lot more money than time, this is something I would seriously consider. $600-700 isn't bad for the time you save and the quality of the build.
  • gorbag - Thursday, November 13, 2008 - link

    I'm not sure why this is a mac v. everyone else debate (again), but I could not let the following pass:

    "Finally, do you really think engineers are responsible for the look of Apple's computers or most cosmetic designs for that matter? Usually it is an industrial design artist who's job is to make products look pretty. Unless ergonomics are a factor, an engineer wouldn't even come close to the drawing board. Where the engineer comes into the pictures is to fight with the industrial design artist when they try to hinder the functionality of the original design."

    I don't consider myself an engineeer (I'm in R&D), but I do work with quite a few of them. Really, a whole lot (100s), and of all kinds: electrical, systems, software, etc. And I would have to say that in a consumer products company, if there is a requirement for "customer experience" that includes, e.g., the internal board layout, disk connection scheme, etc. that I've seen in Macs, then you better believe there were engineers who made it their job to create that experience. Engineering is about balancing trade-offs. I'm not quite sure what you think it's about, but I would suspect you have little professional experience in that area or you would not be making comments such as this one.

    I have more respect, not less, for the folks who can not only create a functional but also an aesthetically pleasing design. I'd rather have my office in the Sistine Chapel than in some steel and glass monstrosity out of the 70s, even though both would serve the same primary functional purpose. There are a lot of non-functional requirements (in software, the -ilities) that professional engineers must take into account when creating a system.
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - link

    Nice snowjob. Not true, but an admirable effort nonetheless. Reply
  • headbox - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    There is more than one computer being compared, and if the main computer in the article was upgraded to Mac Pro specs... oh wait... it couldn't because a Mac Pro is an 8-core system... it would still come in a flimsy box, likely not booting.

    And stop pretending SPEED is the only thing that matters with a computer. Reliability? Operating system? Tech support? If you know how to build a computer, then you'd build one and save the money and be your own tech support. If you don't know how, you buy a gaming system, and you're screwed when it arrives and won't boot.

    If speed were the only thing people cared about, the entire USA would be riding around on 1,000cc sportbikes. You can buy a 600cc sportbike faster than any car for $2,500- yet you only see a handful of these on the streets. They also get 50 mpg and insurance is about $15/mo. Speed isn't everything. Just like in computers.
  • 3DoubleD - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - link

    The computer being compared is the one in the article.. I'm not sure what other one you are looking at? You are right though, you can't compare a Mac Pro to this computer as the computer in the article would be ridiculously faster for the intended use (general use and video games). Who needs 8 cores? I have a feeling that if you are using a Mac you might have trouble using software that uses 8 cores (except for the 100 people in the world who actual edit video and use a Mac). Not to mention that Apple wanted to give their customers the best performance, they probably should have gone with two AMD Opterons instead, as I think they are still king in the multi-socket arena. To summarize, the computer in this article is a far better application of technology to meet the end user's needs than the Mac Pro, which offers abysmal value to the customer outside of its small niche market (professional video editing).

    Why does speed matter... because this is an OVERCLOCKED computer. If speed didn't matter, then the customer wouldn't be looking at this computer! That was brilliant. Again, did you read the article?

    This computer is very reliable. You get a 1 year warranty with an option to extend it to 3 years, similar to most computer and Mac manufacturers. Tech support roles in with this one.

    As for OS, again, since this is mostly targeted towards users who will use this computer for both general use and gaming. Consequently, there is only one good choice, Windows!

    Again, you just sound like a fanatic Steve Jobs follower. Macs have their place in the world. They are great for Grandma who likes to type emails and check the weather. For people who have more serious things to do, more serious equipment is usually needed.
  • kboom1 - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    I thought Maingear's systems were one of the better boutique builders not only from reviews of benchmarks but because of their warranty (angelic service). in feb 2010 I finally took the leap and bought a F131 system and maxed out some of my hardware,It wasn't hard to spend 5g on my system. with in 9 mos. so far I had to have my MB,,RAM,Optical drive,and GPU replaced which I had no probs with the warranty as of yet.One thing that does concern me about MG,upon replacing my GPU I noticed the ssd I paid for and was on my invoice was not the one installed.I paid extra to have this spesific ssd installed.The one installed was a lower model That had problems with the controller and trim, this issue has yet to be resolved. so to sum it up although warranty service has been top notch make sure you check all your hardware when you get your rig. Reply

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