Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Something wicked, powerful and expensive this way comes. I contacted Maingear and asked them to send over one of their most powerful desktops. Several weeks later, the Shift PC arrived, and no one was ready. The Super Stock edition of the Shift ($7,596 as reviewed, or $2,278 starting) is equipped with three Nvidia GeForce Titan X GPUs — the company's most powerful desktop graphics cards — allowing it to play games in 4K across multiple monitors. The tower also offers a dizzying array of personalization options, including custom paint and lighting, that will tempt even the most budget-conscious gamer into coughing up a few paychecks.
What's mean, green and has an ungodly amount of power? No, not the Hulk (good guess, though); it's the Maingear Shift Super Stock. Painted in a coat of the company's automotive-grade glossy Hellcat Green paint with black accents, the tower was made to be gawked at. And how could you not? Weighing in at 58.8 pounds, the 21.5 x 24 x 8.6-inch beast commands the room no matter where you place it.
If you'd rather your system not look like it took a dip in something radioactive, Maingear offers eight additional colors to choose from, including Alpine White, Epic Red, Sapphire Blue and Austin Yellow, for $399 a pop. You can also trick the Shift out in a custom color for $499, or just keep things simple (and cheaper) with the free black aluminum finish. If you're feeling really fancy, you can get the interior of the chassis painted as well. Maingear's paint default comes in a matte finish, so you'll have to cough up an extra $50 for the high-gloss treatment.
MORE: Best Gaming Desktops
The front of the tower is divided by an elegantly curved shiny black acrylic strip, which houses the power and reset buttons. Maingear is boldly spelled out in black lettering along the bottom left of the machine. The top panel swings open, revealing a Blu-ray burner, fan-control system, and unused 3.5-inch and 5.2-inch bays.
At the very top of the device, you'll find another hidden compartment that has several useful ports and slots. Toward the back, you'll find another panel with three large vents painted glossy black. The rear of this panel has a large space cut out, allowing cables to flow through the back without marring the tower's monolithic beauty.
Hidden panels are nice, but the real star of the show is the humongous window along the left side of the tower. This feature gives you the feeling of gazing into the maw of a ferocious beast: exhilaration mixed with a healthy dose of respect. It's through this portal that you get a good, long look at the Asus x99 ROG Rampage V Extreme motherboard on a 90-degree tilt, as well as three Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X cards lined up just as pretty as can be. The right-side panel is demure by comparison, sporting a big Maingear emblem with another large black vent underneath.
Ports and Expandability
Ports, slots and jacks — you name 'em, and the Shift's got 'em. The small panel at the top of the chassis has two USB 3.0 ports, a Firewire port, several flash-card slots, and jacks for a microphone and headphones.
When you unscrew the top-back panel, you'll have access to 10 additional USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an old-school PS/2 port for a mouse or keyboard, Ethernet, five audio ports, and an S/PDIF input. As far as the graphics cards, each has a DVI port, HDMI and three DisplayPorts.
If you have an obsessive need to leave no bay, port or slot unfilled, you can expand the RAM up to 64GB or add another 5.2-inch bay or 3.5-inch bay to the configuration.
4K Graphics and Gaming
Most gamers would be happy with one Nvidia GeForce Titan X GPU, but three will send users into a pixel-induced euphoria. The Shift's three GPUs are in SLI configuration and have 12GB of VRAM each, for a whopping 36GB total. That means you can set up multiple 4K displays to create the ultimate gaming dashboard.
I went on a hour-long rampage in Grand Theft Auto V, taking in the various sights — gleaming white buildings offset by enticing pink and yellow neon signs, capped off with a clear night sky lit by a bright new moon. I pushed the Shift and its trio of Titan X's to the max, playing the game at 3,480 x 2,160 with everything cranked to the max, including shadows, shaders and reflections. Truly, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Despite the ridiculous taxing of resources, the game ran as smooth as butter. Whether I was whipping down the California-inspired freeways at breakneck speeds or taking a walk along the beach, there was nary a hint of lag or jagged textures. Details were sharp enough that I could clearly see the curl patterns of Franklin's and Lamar's hair. The PC averaged 45 fps throughout, which is impressive considering that I was using more than half the allotted video memory.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
The Shift tore through the taxing Metro: Last Light benchmark, delivering 125 fps at 3,840 x 2,160 on low, beating the 112 desktop average as well as the Area-51's (three Nvidia GeForce 980 GPUs in SLI configuration) 105 fps and the Millennium's 84 fps.
When the settings were cranked to Ultra, the Shift's frames fell to 24 fps, just short of the 27-fps average and the Area-51's showing of 26 fps. It was enough, however, to beat the Millennium's score of 16 fps.
During the BioShock Infinite benchmark, the Shift hit 224 fps on low at 2,560 x 1,440, which was beaten by the 320 fps churned out by the Origin PC Millennium's three Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 GPUs. At the highest settings, the Shift hit 105 fps, but was once again defeated by the Millennium's 170 fps.
On the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the Shift notched 18,752, topping the 15,983 average. But it was no match for the Area-51 or the Millennium, which obtained 26,105 and 22,397, respectively.
The tower showed off its multitasking proficiency by performing a full-system scan while running Grand Theft Auto V and streaming an episode of Daredevil with 16 individual tabs open in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
The Shift ripped through Geekbench 3 with 34,488, decimating the 18,049 desktop average. The Origin PC Millennium, which has an overclocked Intel Core i7 5960X CPU, was right on its tail, with 33,950. The Alienware Area-51's 3.5-GHz Intel Core i7-5930K CPU produced 21,060.
The Shift's pair of 250GB SSDs and its 3TB 7,200-rpm hard drive put on quite the show during our file-transfer test, clocking a speed of 346 MBps when copying 4.97GB of files. It demolished the 180.7-MBps average as well as the Area-51 (256GB SSD with a 4TB, 6,000-rpm hard drive) and the Millennium (1TB SSD and a 4TB hybrid drive),which worked at a rate of 221 and 221.3 MBps, respectively.
On our spreadsheet test, the Shift took 2 minutes and 55 seconds to pair 20,000 names and addresses, beating the 3:36 average. The Millennium posted a time of 3:34, while the Area-51 finished last, at 3:50.
Software and Warranty
Besides the usual Windows 8.1 programs, the Maingear Shift Super Stock has a very lean offering of apps and utilities. The PC includes EVGA PrecisionX16, which is an overclocking software that allows gamers to control fan speed and voltage, and toggle between GPUs. You also get a small suite of programs from CyberLink, including ISOViewer and Power2Go, which lets you burn audio, video, image and data files in number of formats to disc.
The Maingear Shift Super Stock comes with Lifetime Angelic Service Labor and Phone Support with 2-Year Comprehensive Warranty.
The Maingear Shift is the perfect embodiment of want versus need. My review configuration was priced at $7,596, which translates into a substantial portion of my student loans, nearly seven months of rent or a really nice used car.
That hefty sum nets you an Asus x99 ROG Rampage V Extreme motherboard, a 3-GHz Intel Core i7 5960X octa-core processor with 16GB of RAM, two 250GB SSDs with a 3TB 7,200-rpm hard drive, and three Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU in SLI configuration with 12GB of VRAM each. A lot of the cost comes from aesthetic components, including the paint job, windows, lighting, cooling system and cable sleeves.
MORE: Best Gaming Headsets
Sporting the default brushed-aluminum chassis, the $2,278 base configuration is downright affordable in comparison. You get an Asus X99-A motherboard, a 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7-5920K CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 750ti GPU with 2GB of VRAM.
Sweet dreams are made of custom paint jobs, multicolored sleeving and three of Nvidia's most powerful desktop GPUs. The Maingear Shift Super Stock desktop is wicked awesome, offering gamers an enormous amount of power via its Core i7 processor and three Nvidia GeForce Titan X GPUs. That means you can hook up several displays for gaming in glorious 4K resolution.
The $7,596 configuration we tested is out of reach for most consumers. You can shave off a hefty sum by ditching all the superfluous cosmetics, but the PC will still cost you a pretty penny.
If you'd like to save a few thousand bucks, there's the $6,399 Origin PC Millennium (starting at $1,765), which offers comparable customization options and solid graphics performance. However, if you outfit the rig with three Titan X's, the price will surpass the Shift's hefty price tag. Overall, the Maingear Shift Super Stock is one of the best desktops on the market to act out your power fantasies.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.