Synthetic, Productivity & Gaming Benchmarks
We put the Maingear F131 up against the recently reviewed Acer Predator Orion 9000, and the comparison is a duel between a custom shop and a big-brand PC. Both sport a Core i9-7980XE processor and dual GTX 1080 Ti graphics in SLI, so it should be a close match in gaming and CPU-bound tests and workloads. The Maingear system has a quarter of the memory capacity of the Orion 9000 (32GB vs 128GB), but it more than makes up for that in storage capacity and aesthetic value. We also included data from our Origin PC Millennium 2018 review to see how its overclocked Core i7-8700K and similar graphics compared against the two expensive Core i9-7980XE-equipped behemoths.
Test System Configuration
We also included the data from our Z270 test bench, loaded with an Intel Core i7-7700K processor, 16GB of Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4-2133, and a single EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Black Edition graphics card to see how a single GTX 1080 Ti compares against the SLI-equipped gaming rigs.
Fire Strike & Time Spy
The Maingear F131 started our benchmark suite by asserting its dominance over the Acer Predator Orion 9000 and Origin PC Millennium. Although the F131 falls behind the Millennium in the graphics portion of the Fire Strike and Time Spy tests, this is because the Origin PC’s Core i7-8700K hits higher clock rates than the F131 and can therefore achieve higher framerates at 1920 x 1080 (the CPU is the bottleneck at this resolution). As the pixel count increased in Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra, the F131 regained its graphics score lead. Clearly, this configuration of the F131 is intended for 4K gaming.
Temperatures were also well managed, with the dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards never exceeding 58C in any of the benchmark runs. The CPU was much hotter at a 78C peak, but that is well within the Core i9-7980XE’s thermal limit and could be considered cool due to the bleeding edge 4.4GHz all-core overclock.
The F131’s Core i9-7980XE processor blew away all the competition in the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded tests, thanks to its impressive all-core overclock of 4.4GHz. It easily surpassed the Predator Orion 9000’s weaker overclock, but it couldn’t catch up to the Millennium’s -8700K clocked at 5.0GHz in the single-threaded tests.
Maingear’s F131 benefits from the graphics cards’ core and memory overclock in the bitcoin mining portion of the CompuBench test. The video processing results are less impressive, with the higher-clocked mainstream CPUs in the test bench and Millennium achieving higher scores than the F131.
The Maingear F131’s 1TB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD performed on par with the Millennium (which sports the same SSD, in a smaller capacity) in sequential read and write performance. However, it falls slightly behind the Origin PC counterpart in random input/output operations per second, likely due the the differences between the X299 and Z370 chipsets. However, the F131’s primary storage is blazing fast and far exceeds the capabilities of our test rig’s SATA-based SSD.
Sandra Memory Bandwidth
Similar to the Acer Predator Orion 9000, the Maingear F131 easily outperformed the systems with dual-channel operation with its quad-channel memory controller in the Sandra multi-threaded memory bandwidth tests. The F131 also bested the Orion 9000 due to its higher frequency (3,600MHz), but single-threaded performance is lower than that of the mainstream chipset systems. However, it still outperformed the Acer counterpart and its similar configuration. In this situation, quantity (Acer’s 128GB DDR4-2666) didn’t beat quality (Maingear’s overclocked 32GB DDR4-3200).
The F131’s productivity chops are also solid, with strong scores in the PCMark 8 application benchmarks. These tests use Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative applications to process canned workloads, and the combination of slower single-threaded memory bandwidth and lower peak CPU clockrates put the Maingear offering in the middle of the pack in this particular benchmark. However, it still performed admirably (with literally milliseconds separating it and the other higher-scoring PCs) and is well-equipped for office and photo editing tasks.
The Maingear F131 is impressively fast in games such as Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, Rise of the Tomb Raider,and Middle Earth: Shadows of War. These titles appreciate the increased CPU core count enough to show moderate gains compared against the mainstream CPU counterparts, but games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Bioshock Infinite, and The Division favor systems with faster CPU clocks, like the Origin PC Millennium and its Core i7-8700K. However, the F131 doesn’t trail far behind, especially at 4K, which is likely what gamers are going for with any system with dual GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards.
The Maingear F131 chassis doesn’t have to be full of the most expensive components and materials, and you can customize it as you wish. Basic configurations (sans the Apex cooling system) start at $1,600 for AMD Ryzen-based systems, $1,800 for Intel Z370 setups, and $2,700 for an X299 platform. Superstock (custom liquid cooling) models for each chipset start at $4,150, $4,250, and $5,050, respectively, and all come equipped with the Apex liquid cooling system by default. Adding Apex to a non-Superstock build will add another $300 to the bill.
The entry-level AMD model (non-Superstock) offers a Ryzen 3 1300 processor with a 120mm all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooler, 8GB (2 x 4GB) of HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 memory, a GeForce GTX 1060 3GB graphics card, a 1TB 7,200RPM HDD, and a 750W power supply (an EVGA Supernova B3). The Z370 Stock model starts with a Core i3-8100 and the same CPU cooler, storage, graphics, power supply, and memory setup. X299 stock models feature a Core i7-7800X processor, a 16GB (4 x 4GB) kit of HyperX Fury DDR4-2666 and a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, in addition to the aforementioned storage and PSU.
The Bottom Line
The Maingear F131 isn't for a tepid PC gamer looking to dip their toe into boutique shop waters. It’s for a discerning hardware enthusiast who simply wants the best in configuration options and aesthetics, and a gaming rig that truly takes the term “custom” to the next level. The price of entry is steep (at minimum, $1,600 sans-Apex cooling), but the F131 is one of the most intuitively designed, eye catching and highest performing made-to-order PCs we’ve ever reviewed.
Although Apex cooling adds considerable cost to the build (starting at $300 for just the main pump/reservoir), it’s worth it for those looking for a truly unique custom shop PC that you won’t find from any of the other major players in the game.
Speaking of games, the premium configuration we tested dominated many of our benchmarks, and the combination of a Core i9-7980XE and dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards in SLI is a powerful pairing.
At the end of the day, $9,321 is of course a lot of money for a computer. Although you can certainly find a PC with the same components (or the components themselves) for less money, the value is in Maingear’s craftsmanship. The company hangs its hat on the impeccable paint application, fine tuning, and innovative design of the F131, and it’s one of the best gaming PCs money can buy, if you can afford it.
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