Serious PC gamers know it’s worth it to shell out a little more green for a gaming rig with enough power to last them a few solid years between major upgrades, but everyone has their limits. Maingear’s recent redesign of its upper mid-range overclocked Vybe desktop series takes this into account, offering a slick-looking updated chassis packing some real oomph at a price that won’t bust your budget. Coming in at just under $2,000 for the most, the Vybe Super Stock is a real workhorse.
It may not be as massive as the beefier-statured Shift and F131 desktops, but the Vybe SS is still a hefty PC with enough room inside for upgrades and tinkering. On the exterior, the black mesh on a white chassis design — my personal favorite of the available color schemes — sports an attractive, clean look with a soft matte finish that feels sexy yet doesn’t leave prints. Minimalism is the order of the day here, and that’s not a bad thing.
Aside from a DVD drive concealed by paneling, there’s not much going on with the front face of the system, which I like. The same goes for the top-side, where you’ll find the power and reset buttons nestled inconspicuously alongside a quartet of USB ports and analog audio jacks. While it’s business in the front, all of the party is around back, where there is a glut of connection options, including USB 2.0 and 3.0 slots, 7.1 audio jacks, firewire, PS/2, and more. Though the interior lighting gives off a pleasant glow that’s visible through the upper fan mesh and the transparent side panel, this isn’t necessarily a rig designed for gamers who want their PC to light up like Independence Day when they fire it up. That said, looks aren’t everything, and this machine delivers where it counts the most: in the performance department.
Under the hood, the Vybe SS is a formidable force to be reckoned with. With a top-shelf water-cooled Intel i7 2600k processor overclocked to a smoking 4.5GHz of power and 8GB of RAM paired with dual 2GB Geforce GTX 560 SLI configured graphics cards, this beast chewed threw every game I threw at it on their highest settings like a katana slicing through cheese whiz.
Diving into busy firefights in Crysis on Very High settings yielded a smooth 75+ frames per second with a screen resolution set at 1920×1080. That bumped up to 95+ frames per second at of 1680×1050, and I was cruising along at 115+ frames per second at the more modest resolution of 1024×768. Starcraft II’s Terran battlefields, bustling with Zerg and Protoss, fared just as well on Ultra graphical settings, as did more recent titles like Might & Magic Heroes VI and Hard Reset.
The system’s roomy 1TB hard drive provides ample space to stock this bad boy with a ton of games, but it also has a unique 20GB SSD drive integrated into the motherboard that’s part of Intel’s Smart Response technology. Basically, it tracks what programs you use the most and then speeds up access time to those files or applications. It’s a cool little feature.
One great thing about this rig is the fans are barely audible even when it’s firing on all cylinders, which is impressive. However, the downside is it gives off quite a bit of heat — a good way to save on your winter oil bill during the colder months if you game in a smaller space, but not ideal for warmer climates and blistering summer frag fests. I don’t have many other complaints about this system, but it’s worth noting the rubber feet on the Vybe SS aren’t screwed on and easily come off with little effort. You can stick them back on, but it seems both shoddy and a potential physical stability issue. Otherwise, the design is sturdy and stylish.
Maingear’s newly-bolstered support for this redesigned unit is also worth a check mark in the plus column. If you experience any critical error within their 30-day no-fail guarantee window, they’ll build and ship you a whole new system from the ground up at no cost. Even with the mid-range GPUs and the fact it’s not the most powerful PC loadout on the market, you do get a lot of punch for your dollar without breaking the bank, and the Vybe SS will do a great job of tackling pretty much any game on the market. At $1,948 for the highest-tier of the three different Vybe configurations, this high-performing gaming PC is a sound investment.