Big performance, little package
To see just what you receive if you purchase a more affordable system, we put the Vybe through our standard array of benchmarks.
SiSoft Sandra’s Processor Arithmetic test returned a combined score of 123.58 GOPS. That’s just a hair better than the score of 123.13 we extracted from a Falcon Northwest Fragbox late last year. In 7-Zip, we recorded a score of 25,560 MIPS, which again is just a bit higher than the Fragbox – it scored 24,916.
Running PCMark 7 resulted in a combined score of 5,471. Here, the Vybe falls slightly behind the Fragbox, but this score is still rock-solid. The Origin Genesis, our PCMark 7 record holder, scored 6,166 – just 695 points more than the Vybe.
Synthetic 3D game performance was tested with 3DMark 11, and the Vybe impressed with a score of 8,347. This absolutely creams the score of the Fragbox we tested last year, which was powered by a pair of GTX 570s in SLI. On the other hand, it’s well short of the score of 14,616 we squeezed from the tri-SLI GTX -580-powered Origin Genesis.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking the Vybe can’t handle games, however. At 1080p the Vybe was able to play Star Wars: The Old Republic with all details set to high at a steady 60 frames-per-second. Dawn of War 2: Retribution’s benchmark ran at 96 FPS with Ultra settings, and Just Cause 2’s Concrete Jungle benchmark ran at 51 FPS with most settings turned to maximum, SSAO and point-specular lighting excluded.
One extra included with our review unit is a 20GB Intel SSD which works with the Gigabyte motherboard to support Intel Smart Response. This is a technology used by Intel to improve boot times and the load times of frequently used titles. I did notice that the Vybe seemed to boot quickly and loaded games in a snap. However, you have to shell out an additional $99 for the motherboard and SSD combination, which is a decent chunk of change towards the purchase of a larger SSD – if you don’t mind installing it yourself.
Cool under pressure
Though not large, the Vybe also is not small. It is not physically equivalent to the Fragbox, Falcon Northwest’s portable gaming desktop. This is a normal mid-tower system with a tower case that has plenty of room for fans and airflow.
The Vybe proved reasonably quiet as a result. Though its fans are clearly audible in any room – even over the fan noise of other systems in our testing settings – they’re also less intrusive than the fans on your typical high-end gaming PC. When you’re not playing games, the fans hum along at a pleasant idle, always there but never grating on your nerves.
To test extreme situations we used OCCT and Furmark to try and turn the fan volume up to 11. OCCT raised CPU temperatures to 71 degrees Celsius and not a smidgen higher, but fan noise did not increase thanks to the optional water-cooling solution used on our review unit. Furmark pushed GPU temperatures to 89 degrees Celsius and caused the fans on the pair of cards to kick things up a notch, but overall noise was still well within tolerance. Based on these tests, we think you should have no problem living with the Vybe during a marathon gaming session.
Maingear’s Vybe is a competent system. There is nothing wrong with this desktop. It doesn’t run hot, it’s not loud, and it’s not outlandishly expensive. Enclosure space is adequate and installing new parts should be simple. Overall performance is what you’d expect from a mid-range gaming PC. This is a dream system for the average Joe – something that is extremely quick, but also obtainable.
On the other hand, the Vybe never reaches beyond competency. This is not a visually striking system, and nothing inside it is of particular interest. Performance is strong, but not surprising given the system’s price.
What we have, then, is a pragmatic high-end gaming system. This means pricing is very important. As mentioned, our review unit rings in at about $2,100.
To provide some comparison, we configured an almost identical Falcon Northwest Talon and Origin Genesis on the websites of each company. The Talon was less expensive at about $1950, while the Origin asked we part ways with about $2250.
Which should you choose? We haven’t reviewed the Talon, but from the looks of it, the case design seems to place more of a focus on fashion than function. You’ll probably like it if you want your new desktop to look it was deserving of the wad of cash you spent on it. The Genesis, on the other hand, offers a slightly larger case – but we don’t think that alone is worth the extra cash.
The Vybe is not a hands-down winner, but in light of this competition, it looks to be a reasonable choice for those who prefer practicality and well-rounded performance.
- Simple and functional design
- Solid performance for the price
- No bloatware
- Runs cool and (relatively) quiet
- No stand-out features
- Enabling Intel Smart Response requires expensive hardware
- Dull enclosure