Tue. May 17th, 2022

Maingear’s Turbo gaming desktop with small form factor is proof that size does not matter. Although this PC is much smaller than a typical mid-tower, the boutique New Jersey company managed to mount a 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 5950X processor and a 24GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card in our total overkill review unit—and cool them both properly. Turbo rates start at $ 2,162, but rise to a staggering $ 6,456 for our system as tested with custom hardline liquid cooling for both CPU and GPU. That makes it one of the fastest and most expensive desktops we’ve ever tested, but we can ‘t say it’s not worth it: the turbo’s unique blend of compact design, outrageous performance and extensive customization is second to none. If you can afford it, it’s a swell.


If a desk was a supercar

The Maingear Turbo is about half the size of a desk in the center of the tower, 12.3 x 6.7 x 14.4 inches (HWD). Some compromises are inherent in this cut, mostly limited inventory expansion, but they are surprisingly few.

Maingear Turbo (2021) left angle

The tower itself is made of steel. Our device is plain black, but buyers who go the extra mile can opt for Maingear’s car paint service in any color. Custom artwork is also available.

Maingear Turbo (2021) right angle

The real eye-catcher of our lavishly equipped unit is its Apex hardline open-loop liquid cooling with chrome tubes. It cools both CPU and GPU.

Maingear Turbo (2021) left side

A big part of the reason our model is more than $ 6,000, apart from the core components: Hardline cooling systems like this are completely handmade. The tubes must be precisely cut and bent to fit the Turbo’s challenging frame. There is nothing on the shelf about it.

Maingear Turbo (2021) cooling closeup

A pump circulates the liquid — ready in our unit — but Maingear offers many colors — which eventually pass through a 280mm top-mounted radiator to release stored heat. The cooling fans are quiet even under heavy gaming stress.

Maingear Turbo (2021) cooling pipe

RGB lighting from the two fans, an interior light strip and even the HyperX memory modules give the Turbo a jewel-like glow. The lighting can be configured using the Asus Aura Sync app.

Maingear Turbo (2021) RGB lighting

The hard cooling adds about $ 1,100 to the bill, which is about the current rate for such a service. Much of its appeal is aesthetic; Although the Baseline Turbo uses a traditional closed-loop CPU liquid cooler and air cooling for the GPU, you can still configure it with the same components as our hardline model.

One disadvantage of hardline liquid cooling is that it makes component upgrades a challenge. At the very least, it’s easy to get in: After removing a thumbscrew to slide off the top panel, you can remove both side panels by hooking your fingers under its bottom edge and moving upward.

The cooling pipes on the side of tempered glass make it impossible to access the memory and the M.2 solid-state drive; it would be wise to talk to Maingear before attempting to disassemble. (Even better, configure everything you want from the factory.)

The other side provides access to the only 3.5-inch drive bay that slides onto a caddy after removing a thumbscrew. Corsair SF750W power supply is also available here; its special SFX format and fully modular cable connections make it ideal for mini-PCs.

Maingear Turbo (2021) right side open

The turbo’s front port selection includes two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and an audio jack. I would like to see a USB Type-C port here next time.

Maingear Turbo (2021) front doors

Meanwhile, the Asus ROG Strix X570-I Gaming mini-ITX motherboard has an additional seven USB Type-A ports (four version 3.2 Gen 1 and three 3.2 Gen 2), a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, Gigabit Ethernet and three audio connectors (line-in, line-out and microphone). The video outputs are disabled (Ryzen 9 5950X lacks a built-in GPU) in favor of the GeForce RTX 3090 card’s one HDMI and three DisplayPort connectors.

Maingear Turbo (2021) rear gates

Although the port selection is good, it would be nice to see a USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 port with higher bandwidth. I also prefer a wireless antenna integrated into the cabinet for a cleaner look. The external antenna for the motherboard’s Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 card connects to the two gold connectors.


Pulls a quick: Test of the Maingear Turbo

The Maingear Turbo, priced at $ 6,456 here, is exceptionally well-equipped with a 16-core, 3.4 GHz (4.9 GHz boost) AMD Ryzen 9 5950X processor, a 24 GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition- graphics card, 32GB DDR4-3600 dual-channel memory, a 1TB Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD loaded with Windows 10 Home and a 4TB 3.5-inch hard drive.

This is undoubtedly one of the fastest PCs that money – much of it – can buy. Direct competitors are scarce; Few mini-PCs offer hardware of this caliber and even fewer offer hard cooling. Falcon Northwest’s Tiki matches Maingear in craftsmanship, though its GPU selection tops with a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti as I write this. Digital Storms Bolt X, which goes up to a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, dials up to $ 5,305 with hard cooling for its CPU only.

It is noteworthy that the Turbo is only offered with AMD CPUs – no Intel “Rocket Lake” silicon here. Players looking for more value can safely choose the Ryzen 7 5800X without missing out on the Ryzen 9 5950X’s extra cores. Similarly, although the GeForce RTX 3090 is by far the fastest single graphics card on the market, the RTX 3080 Ti provides almost identical performance for far less money.

Now I have to turn on this light. The turbo is facing gaming desktops as seen in the table below for our performance benchmarks.

The NZXT H1 Mini Plus is an enthusiastic mini-PC, while the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i is a center tower for a price. The turbo is likely to slaughter them, but they should do so for comparison until more gaming desktops review our new benchmark regime. (See more about how we test desktops.)

Productivity testing and content creation

Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, which simulates a series of real productivity and office workflows to measure overall system performance and also includes a stock test for the primary drive. Here, the Turbo sailed away with an epic productivity of 7,861 points (4,000 points indicates excellent Microsoft Office or Google Docs performance) and an equally impressive score in the stock test.

Our other three benchmarks focus on the CPU using all available cores and threads to assess a PC’s suitability for processor – intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses the company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).

Our latest productivity test is Workstation maker Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to evaluate a PC’s performance creation content and multimedia applications. It is an automatic extension that performs a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks, ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and storing an image to applying masks, gradient fill, and filters.

Sixteen cores means that multi-threaded tasks are a breeze for the Turbo, which halves the eight-core NZXT’s time in the handbrake and jumps away in the Cinebench R23 and the other tests.

We also ran our package of workstations and content testing on Turbo. These include Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Adobe Premiere Pro 15; SPECviewperf 2020, an industry standard for measuring 3D performance in graphic design and CAD applications; and Blender, another 3D modeling test. The turbo did not surprisingly take the greatest honor in all the tests. For digital editing and powerful number crunching, the Ryzen 9 5950X is a sensational performer.

Graphics and game test

For Windows PCs, we run both synthetic and real gaming tests. The former includes two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for systems with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). Also in that group is the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which we use to measure OpenGL performance.

In the future, our real-world tests come from benchmarks in the game in F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Rainbow Six Siege, which represent simulation, action adventures in the open world and competitive / esports shooters, respectively. On desktops, we run them with their highest quality presets (F1 2021 at Ultra High and Valhalla and Siege at Ultra) at 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions.

The Turbo’s star rating speaks for itself. The GeForce RTX 3090’s massive 24 GB frame buffer earmarks it for pros, AI and analytical use rather than gaming, though of course it’s capable.


All Show, All Go

Maingear Turbo is several technical achievements in one. Not only does it fill a full tower to a fraction of the usual size, but it also does so with hardline liquid cooling for both its CPU and GPU, something you don’t normally see. This ultra-custom desktop leaves little room for complaint apart from the lack of storage expansion, but it’s an inherent compromise for a smaller PC. First-class craftsmanship and a high degree of customization go a long way towards justifying its colossal price. For those with pockets deep enough, the Turbo redefines what is possible on a desk of this size.

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