It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve bought a new gaming PC, but I finally took the plunge a month and a half ago. Every previous gaming machine I’ve bought, except one Alienware, have been built by me from components. I’m too busy for that now and, honestly, I’ve got enough money that the couple hundred more for a professionally built system is well worth it for the quality. So, on November 9, 2009, I ordered a Mainear Shift windows 7 gaming monster: http://maingear.com/custom/desktops/shift/
I specced it out thusly:
- 1.2KW Silverstone Zeus Modular Power Supply (so far I’ve only played some Dragon Age on it, but it hasn’t exceeded 450W that I’ve noticed on my Kill-A-Watt, but this should give me room for more expandability)
- 2x ATI HD 5870 2GB
- EVGA X58 SLI Classified Mobo
- Intel Core i7-960 3.2GHz proc, oc’d (by Maingear) to 3.78
- Asetek X120 Liquid Cooling
- 12GB Kingston HyperX Triple-Channel DDR3-1600 RAM
- 128GB Kingston V-Series SSD for C:
- 2x 2TB Western Digital RE4-GP, 2TB drives in RAID-0 for D:
- All-in-One integrated USB 2.0 Flash Card Reader
- 8x Lite-On Blu-ray Reader / DVD Lightscribe Combo Drive
- Dual On-board Gigabit Ethernet
- 8-channel high definition surround sound
It was a long wait, but finally on Christmas Eve, I received it. I’ve been toodling around with it as much as I have been able to since then.
Anyway, here are my thoughts:
Unboxing went smoothly, though the computer is big and heavy (and so therefore is the box it comes in). Seriously, though. The thing is gigantic. Here’s a picture of it next to a normal computer so you get an idea. It’s just really large and imposing.
The first thing that’s interesting about the Shift case is that the motherboard is rotated 90 degrees so that the ports (usb, DVI, ethernet, etc.) are all located on the top of the case. This way, the hot components (such as the graphics cards) can all have air flow along them and out the top, using convection for some assistance with cooling. One thing I thought was slightly suboptimal about the case construction was that to access these ports, you have to unscrew a cage on top of the case, but Maingear did not use thumbscrews for the screws, nor did they indicate in the manual that you are expected to unscrew anything. So I wasted a few minutes trying to find some way to pop the top open without unscrewing, to no avail. The manual, by the way, still says to plug things in to the back. I don’t think it’s been updated for the Shift just yet. The screws also make it a pain to get to the USB ports. I’m going to add a hub on my desk so I don’t have to deal with that.
Anyway, that all done, I got everything set up and booted into Windows 7 Ultimate. It was a nice, relatively stock install with just two crapware icons on the desktop – a nondescript FreeAntivirus and a FreeOfficeSuite. I don’t know what either of these were, and deleted them without delay. It would have been nice to either have these be more identifiable, or not have them there at all.
My username was set to John as an Administrator, with no password. I added a password so I could feel better about enabling remote desktop, etc.
There were 31.8GB used on C:. 10GB of it is a hiberfil.sys and 13GB is a pagefile.sys. So in that sense, 23GB of it is wasted. I don’t expect with 12GB of physical memory I’ll be paging too much, so I’m planning to move the page file to my D:. Also, I never hibernate, so I’ll move that to D: as well. This will free up a good bit of space. It would be nice for maingear to have done this, or offered to do it, for me, but that is a good bit of trouble to go to, I understand.
The thing takes about 38s to cold boot – 16s of these are in the bios and hard disk / RAID config stuff waiting to get to Windows, so Windows is only taking about 22s to start, which is pretty great imo.
The thing is definitely audible. It’s about 41dB at my ear level from under my desk when doing some light web surfing. I haven’t measured it when playing a game, but it’s not onerous by any means. Right by the box under the same circumstances it’s about 48dB. Under heavy cpu only load (primes) that only goes up to about 50dB. I live in New York. This might be more noticeable if you live somewhere quieter.
The cpu runs at about 52C when not under load, but gets up to nearly 70 when playing Dragon Age (the only game I’ve installed so far – putting City of Heroes and Champions Online on it as I type this). This definitely seems hot to me, but I guess that’s what you get for overclocking.
My overall reaction is that this is the best computer I’ve ever bought. It’s fast as hell, plays games fluidly and without breaking a sweat, even hooked to my 30” monitor at full res, and is well and solidly built.
The 128GB I got for C: is too small, I think. I’m going to buy another 128, RAID-0 them up, and see how that goes.
More soon, including pics!