Maingear Debuts ‘Apex’ Integrated Cooling With New F131 Desktop

LAS VEGAS, NV -- Maingear went to CES 2018 armed with a new flagship F131 desktop gaming PC that has been redesigned from the ground up to be the “Apex” of custom liquid cooling.

New Design, Same Premium Options

The new Maingear F131 looks similar to its previous version, but with a taller and slimmer chassis, a new PSU shroud, and a solid front panel (the former F131 had a ventilated front panel). You can still equip the F131 with Intel Z370, X299, and AMD B350 microATX motherboards (Maingear uses an Asus Strix Z370G Gaming, EVGA X299 Micro, and MSI B350M Gaming Pro motherboard, respectively), along with all of their respective top-dog processor (the Intel Core i7-8700K, i9-7980XE, and AMD Ryzen 7 1800X). Memory and storage options remain mostly intact from the previous model, and you can still load the F131 with up to dual GeForce Titan Xp graphics cards. However, AMD GPUs are no longer available in the new F131, which Maingear explained was due to waterblock compatibility issues. Although the F131 can be equipped with air-cooled Nvidia cards, Vega GPUs (and their thicker coolers) have also been problematic for the new chassis, so the company stopped offering it.

Tempered glass panels showcase a variety of customizable configurations, including soft (Stock) and hard-tube (Super Stock) custom liquid cooling loops for the CPU and GPUs (which are also still oriented vertically at the bottom of the window). However, there are a few visible differences with the new design--the redesigned chassis offers more USB connectivity, with a USB 3.1 Type-C and four USB 3.0 ports on the front panel. The previously exposed PSU is now shrouded by a metal panel that sports three 2.5” drive bays that showcase your choice of storage more prominently. The top exhaust vents can now also accommodate up to a 420mm radiator, which could give a custom liquid cooling loop even more thermal dissipation power.

Apex ICS

Maingear didn’t redesign the F131 on a whim; the new chassis was built in conjunction with a new custom cooling device called the Apex Integrated Cooling System (Apex ICS). The company engineered the acrylic reservoir/pump combo in partnership with Bitspower in an effort to create a unique do-it-all cooling device for a monster of an open-loop liquid-cooled gaming PC. We were impressed by the sheer ambition of Apex – we’re not aware of any other major custom PC shops offering a completely custom-designed and integrated open-loop cooling system in one of their gaming systems.

“The launch of our new F131 desktop sets a new benchmark in gaming desktops" said Wallace Santos, CEO and Founder of Maingear. "While most manufacturers add liquid cooling to a system as an afterthought, the new F131 and APEX where designed together to provide unparalleled performance."

The Apex reservoir is two inches thick and has an RGB LED strip inside, which is controlled via remote (along with other RGB LED interior lights) and illuminates the clear acrylic in the color of your choice. The two pumps each run on low power but produce a high flow rate—enough to push liquid through a CPU, two GPUs, and a 420mm radiator comfortably—and they are powerful enough to run the loop individually if one of them happens to fail down the line. The drain port and pressure release are strategically placed to makes maintenance for the open loop easy. Temperature and flow rate sensors are built right into the Apex, and the PWM connectors let you control and monitor the Apex’s functionality in the OS environment via the motherboard vendor’s respective software.

When mounted in the new F131 chassis, each screw hole in the Apex reservoir lines up perfectly with the crossbars and mounts of the case. The massive cooling device spans the entire vertical length of the case from the top to bottom, occupying the majority of the right side of the tempered glass window (and covering the PSU shroud). Apex and the new F131 are available with both soft tubing open-loop cooling and Maingear's Superstock Hardline open-loop cooling, which sports crystal-clear acrylic or metal tubing.

The F131 could be considered the most-custom custom shop gaming PC in the world with the Apex ICS, simply because you likely won’t find this level of custom design and craftsmanship on a mainstream level anywhere else.

New Custom Paint, Too!

Maingear also announced two new additions to its automotive paint finishing services – Spectrum Chameleon and MARC II. The Spectrum Chameleon finishes are exactly as they sound -- the visible colors appear to be constantly shifting within the desired base color spectrum (get it?). If you’ve ever seen a newer car with a lustrous, hard-to-distinguish, yet definitively eye-catching automotive finish, that’s what Maingear has accomplished with its Spectrum Chameleon paint options.

The MARC II finish looks like it could be a graphic wrap, but it's not. The seven-step painting process takes customized artwork (your own, or from a choice of Maingear designs) and immortalizes it on the exterior chassis of your custom gaming PC in a high-gloss automotive finish.

Pricing And Availability

The new Maingear F131 custom desktop gaming PC is available now from the company’s website, starting at $1,599. Spectrum Chameleon and MARC II automotive finishes also launch today, starting at $749 and $149, respectively.

Maingear F131 Custom Desktop PC
Derek Forrest
Derek Forrest is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes hardware news and reviews gaming desktops and laptops.