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Maingear Turbo Review: Luxury Mini ITX Meets Ryzen XT

The Maingear Turbo is the epitome of a compact luxury AMD Ryzen PC, with beautiful looks and powerful performance. But it can get very, very expensive.

Maingear Turbo
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The Maingear Turbo is a gorgeous, powerful mini ITX PC with effective custom cooling. But you’ll pay a significant premium for it.

For

  • Compact case
  • Beautiful looks
  • Strong gaming and productivity performance
  • Apex cooling is quiet and effective

Against

  • Front I/O is lacking
  • Insanely expensive as configured

You don’t have to look far for signs of AMD’s resurgence in the processor market. A number of companies have adopted its chips alongside Intel’s, including some of the best gaming PCs. But AMD’s latest coup is in the form of a boutique mini ITX PC. The Maingear Turbo ($1,499 to start, $5,424 as tested), is a luxury desktop that has eschewed Intel’s chips entirely for this model (though you can find Intel elsewhere, like in the larger Maingear Vybe).

The Turbo comes in a well-built, compact case with incredible aesthetics if you’re willing to pay extra for Maingear’s Apex cooling. Let’s be clear - you can get most of these components cheaper on your own or through some other companies, but the system won’t look as nice as this--and won’t likely be nearly as quet.

 

Design

We see a fair number of pre-built desktops pass through our labs, but the Maingear Turbo is among the nicest I’ve seen. The Turbo’s chassis itself is simple: It’s a 4.4 x 12.3 x 6.7-inch block with Maingear’s logo in RGB lights on the front. It’s sized for a mini ITX motherboard and is small enough to fit on top of a desk. We had the default black metal chassis, but Maingear does have options with automotive-grade paint to customize, should you be willing to spend even more.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The right-side panel is opaque, while the left panel is made of glass to show off the real star of the show: Maingear’s Apex cooling with hardline tubes, chrome fittings and plenty of RGB lighting. Our review unit was a custom model with this option. Cheaper versions use a 240mm all-in-one water cooler. The GPU in our model is also standing vertically, and you can see the custom water block in all of its glory.

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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The lighting can be controlled, on our model, in Asus Aura sync. It also comes with a remote, should you want to connect that to a controller box, though our light clicker wasn’t activated out of the box.

Most of the prebuilts we see are a bit bigger. Perhaps the most comparable to this Turbo is the Corsair Vengeance 6182, a Ryzen 7 3700X-based micro ATX system that measures 15.6 x 11 x 14 inches.

Maingear Turbo Specifications

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 9 3900XT
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming Wi-Fi
Memory32GB HyperX Fury RGB DDR4 3600 MHz
GraphicsNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition (11GB GDDR6)
Storage1TB Seagate FireCuda 520 Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD, 4TB Western Digital Black HDD (7,200-RPM)
NetworkingIntel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, Bluetooth 5.0
Front Ports2x USB 3.0 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone jack
Rear Ports (Motherboard)HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,   3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, Ethernet, Audio jacks
Video Output (GPU)3x DisplayPort, HDMI, VirtualLink (USB Type-C)
Power SupplyCorsair SF750W 80 Plus Platinum
CaseMaingear Turbo Chassis
CoolingMaingear Apex Cooling System
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Dimensions14.4 x 12.3 x 6.7 inches / 365.8 x 312.4 x 170.2 mm
Other  Black braided cables, 280mm radiator
Price As Configured$5,424

Maingear Turbo Ports and Upgradeability

The majority of the Turbo’s ports are those on the motherboard. There are three ports on the side: a pair of USB Type-A ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This desktop is definitely small enough to keep on a desk, but I do wish the ports were on top for those who may keep it on the floor. Additionally, a USB Type-C port would have helped future proof this case.

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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The rear ports will depend on your motherboard and graphics card. Ours came with an Asus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming Wi-Fi, but some models use an ASRock B550M board. With the Asus, there are 8 USB ports (four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A,  three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C), Ethernet, audio jacks and on-board HDMI and DisplayPort (separate from those on the GPU).

Upgrading the PC has more to do with your comfort with custom water cooling loops than anything else. The case is very easy to open up: Take a screw out of the back and the top comes off, and then you can pull up the back panel, where the HDD and power supply are. You can also pull out the glass panel for access to the motherboard, GPU, CPU and Apex cooling, but if you don’t have experience with this kind of cooling, you could also get coolant or all over your multi-thousand dollar PC, so be careful here. The reservoir and tubing block even the simplest RAM upgrade.

Gaming and Graphics

With an AMD Ryzen 3900XT and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, our review unit of the Maingear Turbo was ready for just about anything, including gaming on high settings at 4K. When I booted up the Turbo, I installed Battlefield V, set all of the settings to ultra at 1080p and enabled ray tracing, and the game ran between 87 and 98 fps. At 4K, it was between 35 and 54 fps without turning any settings down.

We compared the Turbo to those with similar CPUs and GPUs and of varying sizes. The Maingear Vybe we tested recently was an Intel Core i9-10900K powerhouse overclocked to 5.3 GHz with an RTX 2080 Ti and the same Apex cooling system. The Alienware Aurora R10 is another high-power tower with the 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and an RTX 2080 Ti, while the HP Omen Obelisk has a Core i9-9900K and RTX 2080 Ti.

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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (highest, DX12), the Turbo ran at 120 fps in 1080p and 44 fps in 4K, just mere frames behind the Intel-based Maingear Vybe (124 fps at 1080p at 1080p, 45 fps at 4K), and 15-20 frames better at 1080p than the Alienware and HP.

When it came to Grand Theft Auto V (very high), which is more CPU-bound, the race was tighter. At 1080p the Vybe was on top again (137 fps) compared to the Turbo’s 130 fps, but they tied at 45 fps in 4K. Both the Omen and the Aurora earned 125 fps at 1080p and were a frame apart in 4K.

On Far Cry New Dawn’s benchmark (ultra settings), the Turbo was again just behind the Vybe. The AMD-based PC on our testbench achieved an average of 105 fps at 1080p and 78 fps in 4K, just behind the overclocked Intel desktop (112 fps in 1080p, 80 fps in 4K). Here, the Aurora stumbled at the lesser resolution (88 fps in 1080p, 71 in 4K) while the Omen fell at higher resolutions (105 fps in 1080p, 67 fps in 4K).

We saw similar results on the Red Dead Redemption 2 benchmark (medium) with the Turbo (84 fps at 1080p, 32 fps at 4K) and Vybe (88 fps at 1080p and 33 fps at 4K) neck and neck. The Alienware Aurora scored a win in 4K here, at 42 fps. We have no data for the Obelisk, which we reviewed prior to Red Dead Redemption 2 becoming part of our test suite.

To stress test the system, we ran Metro Exodus at the RTX preset at 1080p to simulate roughly half an hour of gaming. It ran at an average of 77.1 fps across those runs and was largely consistent between each repetition of the benchmark.

During those runs, the CPU ran at an average of just under 4 GHz with a temperature of 79 degrees Celsius (174.2 Fahrenheit). The GPU ran at a clock speed of 1,714.2 MHz and a temperature of 62.8 degrees Celsius (145 degrees Fahrenheit). This is where the Apex cooling came into play. Sure, heat came out the top of the system, but this computer was as close to silent as I’ve ever heard a gaming computer during intense gaming workloads.

Productivity Performance

With these specs, including the Ryzen 9 3900XT and 32GB of RAM, the Turbo can also serve as a workhorse (and for this price, it better).

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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

On Geekbench 4.3, the Turbo notched a multi-core score of 48,962, surpassing the 10th Gen Core-based Maingear Vybe, as well as the older HP Omen Obelisk. With more cores in the Ryzen 9 3950X, the Alienware Aurora R10 outperformed all comers, with a score of 52,626.

The SSD in the Turbo, however, didn’t prove to be the fastest. It copied 4.97GB of files at an average rate of 959.5 MBps. The 1TB Seagate FireCuda 520 in the Turbo was faster than the Intel 600p that came in the Maingear Vybe (898 MBps), but was outclassed by the options in both the Alienware and the Omen.

On our Handbrake test, in which computers transcode 4K video to 1080p, the Turbo completed the task in 4 minutes and 29 seconds. That again beat the Vybe but fell behind the Alienware, which finished the job in a blazing 3:36.

Maingear Turbo Software and Warranty

There’s almost no bloat to be spoken of on the Maingear Turbo. Sure, there’s the junk that gets packed in with Windows 10, like Hidden City: Hidden Object Adventure, Hulu and PicsArt Photo Studio, but Maingear hasn’t added anything you wouldn’t want.

The only software that came preinstalled from Maingear was Asus Aura Sync, which comes with the motherboard and can be used to control the lighting on the board, the RAM and the Apex cooling, as well as AMD Ryzen Master, for those who want a user-interface approach to overclocking.

Maingear sells the Turbo with a 1-year warranty, though you can go up to 3 years for an extra $100 per year. Once you’ve crossed the $5,000 threshold like our review unit, there’s almost no reason not to further protect your investment, especially with the complex Apex cooling.

Maingear Turbo Configurations

Maingear worked with AMD on this desktop (thus, no Intel CPU options), but I wish it had more non-XT options. The extra clock speed isn’t necessarily worth the additional cost (as we said when we tested and reviewed the CPUs), though if you’re dropping this much money, you might as well get the newest and the best.

We reviewed a $5,424 version of the Maingear Turbo with an AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT, Asus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming Wi-Fi, 32GB of HyperX Fury RGB  RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition, 1TB Seagate FireCuda 520 Gen 4 M.2 NVMe SSD, 4TB Western Digital Black HDD, Apex cooling and black braided cables. It is, for sure, a luxury system. Our unit had the default chassis, and not a customized version with automotive-grade paint.

Most of the cheaper options are preconfigured. The base model preconfig, which Maingear rates for 1080p gaming, is $1,699 with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT, AMD Radeon RX 5500XT, Maingear Epic 240mm AIO Cooler, AsRock B550M-ITX motherboard, 16GB of HyperX Fury RGB RAM, and a 512GB Intel 660p SSD.

The 1440p version is $2,199 and gets upgrades to a Ryzen 7 3800XT, Radeon RX 5700XT and 1TB Intel 660p.

The 4K model bumps up again to a Ryzen 9 3900XT and RTX 2080 Ti, as well as 32GB of RAM and a 2TB Intel 660p for $3,699.

But it’s only in the custom model, which we reviewed, that you can get faster (and multiple) storage drives, custom colors, up to 64GB of RAM, and, of course, the Apex cooling that impressed us so much. It also has options up to a Ryzen 9 3950X and Nvidia Titan RTX. Oddly enough, the custom option is also where you can choose the cheapest model, at $1,499 with an Ryzen 5 3600 and an RX 5500 XT.

 

Bottom Line

Maingear Turbo

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Maingear Turbo is the small Ferrari of gaming PC’s. It’s expertly built and, in our configuration, has aesthetics that make me look at my own custom-built PC in disgust. But this machine is $5,424 as we reviewed it, so it’s also priced like a supercar PC.

The Turbo only offers AMD CPUs, so if you prefer Intel, you’ll have to go for something else. Maingear does offer Intel on its larger and similarly-expensive Vybe, or you can go with something like the HP Omen Obelisk, but that’s gettling long in the tooth.

If you’re looking for more of a workstation, the Alienware Aurora R10 has an option for a Ryzen 9 3950X, though its cooling isn’t as good as the Turbo. You can get the Turbo custom-built with that chip for, you guessed, it, an extra cost. You could go prebuilt or with some OEMs for less money, but you won’t get the option for Maingear’s Apex cooling, which is effective and gorgeous.

But if you have the cash to seriously consider buying a $5,000 (or more) pre-built, you’re not likely too concerned with cost. For those looking for a luxury Ryzen desktop that you can fit almost anywhere, the Turbo will fill that need excellently. 

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  • JoBalz
    Sorry to hear about the lousy front I/O. I bought their ATX case to build my new system in, and it has great I/O (3 USB 3.1, 1 USB-C, mic & headphone jacks. All located same as on the ITX case, which makes it much easier to access if you keep your computer on your desktop like I do. Plenty of room inside, plus behind the motherboard tray. Includes an adapter behind the MB tray for additional RGB lighting and fans. Case is built like a bulldozer, very sturdy. I know this doesn't address the Maingear PC itself, but I like to let people know that you can buy ATX/mATX/ITX case from Maingear's shop or Microcenter, offered in several colors in addition to black and white.
    Reply