System Build Quality and Design
The Maingear system itself is built upon a steel body encased by an aluminum outer shell. This enables the case to look very sleek, and be slightly lighter than other cases that would be entirely steel. If you compare this case to its close brother the raven, this case is significantly better because it isn’t made of a plastic shell which makes it more durable and honestly better looking.
When we took a look at the system, we noticed that Maingear neatly taped the door hiding the optical disk drives shut with a single piece of scotch tape. This thoughtful thing will prevent the door from swinging out during shipment and unpacking and, heck, even installation. Going around the case we notice that they opted for a two-button setup with the power and reset buttons in the front of the case.
They also opted for a top-mounted card reader with headphone and mic jacks to make access easy. The one thing that we wished that they had included or had as an option was USB 3.0 ports on these front ports since the motherboard has USB 3.0 and accessing those isn’t necessarily easy since they’re covered by the top grill. That brings us to the next aspect of this case.
Remembering one of the key features of this case, the 90 degree rotation of the motherboard tray, it results in all of the connectivity being at the top of the case. This creates an interesting conundrum because it provides better cooling, but it also creates an aesthetic problem. Maingear resolves this issue by creating a top plate that covers the cables from plain view but still retains the case its ventilation advantages. This top plate is aesthetically very well designed and improves the overall look of the case while improving functionality as well. Our only gripe with this aspect of the case’s design is that it requires a Phillips screwdriver in order to remove the panel as it is secured by 4 screws. We would have rather liked them to have used some tool-less mechanism to avoid needing to find a screwdriver every time we need to unplug or plug something in. Yes, Maingear does provide a multi-tool with a Phillips head, but it would make the user’s life easier if they were some sort of tool-free mechanism.
Inside of the case, we take a look at the quality of the cable management and the overall design of the case. Taking a look at the snapshot of the inside we can see that the case is indeed quite spacious for components and drives. The case supports up to 6 internal 3.5 or 2.5” drives and 3 drives in the drive bay with a spot for a floppy drive. Looking at the actual cable management we can see that Maingear did their best to get cables neatly tucked away and out of sight. Their cable management of the power cables and SATA cables was definitely some of the best we’ve ever seen in a computer and the utter lack of visible cables made looking at the internals just that much more appealing.
Even on the back of the motherboard tray, we can see how they managed to achieve such nice cable management and even behind the motherboard tray the cable management is quality. Everything is properly zip tied and secured to the case to prevent any sort of vibration, knocking, or unsightly appearances. Also, the water cooling setup is done so well that at first most people wondered where the radiator was for the water cooling system since it was so well integrated into the chassis.
The configuration that Maingear opted for was that they installed the primary SSD in the 2nd bay(empty one) from the left and the data drive in the 1st bay from the left. Furthermore, they pre-wired the 1st 4 bays with backplanes to make installation easy for anyone wanting to add more storage. On top of that, they made sure that both hard drives were plugged into the SATA 6G ports (colored blue). They also installed the Blu-ray drive in the bottom of the 3 expansion bays as well. Beyond those observations we decided to move onto the next part, setting it up for the first time.
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