Maingear PC EPHEX
Maingear selected the Silverstone TJ10 ATX tower to represent its brand, with a more refined look that typically suits mature aesthetic tastes. Maingear offers fewer case styles than its competitor, all of which are semi-monolithic, but adds a wider variety of custom finish options. Windowed enclosures are also offered as a $99 option that includes internal lighting.
Behind the TJ10 case’s extruded aluminum door are a single DVD burner and a multi-format flash card drive. Spring-loaded hinge pins allow the door to swing from either side.
Inside we find a somewhat surprising selection of components, beginning with an Asus P6T motherboard that supports 3-way SLI (but with only four PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 pathways on the third x16 slot). Maingear configures the system with a 3-way configuration of GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards, despite the reduced-bandwidth slot.
Another unusual choice is Silverstone’s DA1000 modular power supply, which is a unit we’ve been avoiding for supposed problems with its shared-connector PCIe leads. The GeForce GTX 285 is far more efficient than the card we’d previously considered for use with the DA1000, so Maingear's choice could be one we’ve simply overlooked.
Maingear's maintenance-free CPU cooler is custom produced by CoolIT Systems and shares several similar components with its Domino ALC (but has a larger radiator and no fancy LCD-equipped pump cover).
If Maingear is guilty of anything, it’s borderline overly-aggressive cable management. The DA1000 power supply’s spare cables are zipped together tightly (not a bad thing). And inside the case, the company used higher-quality latching SATA cables, even though the motherboard connectors don’t support the latches. Thus, the higher-quality cables don’t snap into the sockets as well as those supplied with the motherboard. Cable management putting form before function results in the optical drive cable getting pulled out of its socket during shipping, and the use of latching cables in an unlatched socket increases the likelihood of it popping out again.
Maingear supplies all its software and documentation in a custom-printed file folder. The EVGA graphics cards did not include free games, but at least we weren’t left wondering what happened to any second or third copies of those games.