Maingear’s Vybe with Apex Cooling manages to tame Intel’s Core i9-10900K for impressive, quiet performance with a polished, pretty presentation.
Maingear’s Vybe with Apex Cooling manages to tame Intel’s Core i9-10900K for impressive, quiet performance with a polished, pretty presentation. But you may want to consider a Ryzen configuration instead.
- Extremely quiet operation
- Stunning aesthetics
- Ample front-panel connectivity
- Expensive as configured
- Odd choice of boot drive
- AMD-base platform would offer better bang-for-your-buck performance
Maingear’s Vybe high-end desktop impressed us last year when we reviewed it both as a fully configured desktop and as a PC case to build your own system inside. But now that Intel has released the tough-to-cool Core i9-10900K, Maingear sent an updated Vybe our way, with liquid cooling for both the CPU and graphics card (an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in this configuration), and the company’s stunning custom Apex Cooling option.
Is the new Vybe one of the best gaming PCs? Well, that depends on what your budget is (sure, it starts at $749, but as configured, this system is $5,402), and how much you like Intel. Because Maingear will also sell you a version of the Vybe with an AMD Ryzen system instead, and unless you really care about gaming at high frame rates and 1080p, that may be a better option.
There’s nothing new about the Vybe’s design at this point, but that certainly isn’t a bad thing. At 18 x 8.5 x 18.7 inches (HWD), it’s a mid-tower system that’s far from small, but it’s not massive either. Maingear sent us the black model, but you can choose white or gray when configuring the system at no extra charge. And if none of those excite you, you can choose an automotive paint option in just about any color you want — for an additional $399 – $699, depending on the paint.
The case features a tempered-glass side to show off your components, removable filters on both the top and bottom, and an ample selection of front-panel ports. On the left edge, near the front, you’ll find three USB 3 Type-A ports, one Type-C, as well as separate headphone and mic jacks and a square power button outlined by a ring that lights up when the system is powered up.
Ports around back depend on which motherboard you choose, and Maingear currently has four offerings on the Z490 front — ours came with the Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi). With that board, you get both Intel 1Gb Ethernet and a 5Gb port from Marvell, along with WiFi 6 (AX201). USB ports here total 10, with four being USB 3.2 Gen 2 (three USB-A, one USB-C), four USB 3.3 Gen 1 Type-A, and a pair of USB 2.0. There’s also the standard allotment of audio jacks and an HDMI port that you’ll generally want to avoid in favor of the ports on the RTX 2080 Ti. On the card below the board, you’ll find three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and a VirtualLink (Type-C) port for connecting displays.
Maingear Vybe 2020 Specifications
|Processor||Intel Core i9-10900K (overclocked to 5.3 GHz)|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi)|
|Memory||HyperX Predator DDR4 32GB-3200|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (8GB GDDR6)|
|Storage||1TB Intel 665P SSD|
|Storage||4TB WD Black HDD|
|Networking||Intel 1Gb Ethernet, Marvell AQC111C 5Gb Ethernet|
|Ports||Front: 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, Headphone and mic jack Rear: 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (3x Type-A, 1x Type-C), 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Type-A), 2x USB 2.0 (Type-A), Audio ports|
|Video Output||Motherboard: HDMI 1.4b GPU: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, VirtualLink|
|Power Supply||EVGA 1200W SuperNova|
|Case||Maingear Vybe Mid-Tower|
|Cooling||5x 120 mm RGB fans, Custom cooling loop, Apex custom cooling, GPU waterblock|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||18 x 18.7 x 8.5 inches|
|Price As Configured||$5,402|
Components and Upgradeability
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Inside our review $5,402 review configuration lives a new 10-core Core i9-10900K processor and an RTX 2080 Ti — both chilled by the company’s Apex liquid cooling (a pretty and powerful, but expensive, $500 addition). Memory is handled by HyperX, in the form of a 32GB kit clocked at 3200 MHz, and storage is a combination of a 1TB Intel 665P SSD and a 4TB WD Black hard drive.
In particular, the storage setup here seems a little odd. It’s nice to have the spaciousness of a spinning-platter drive, but the Intel 665P boot drive is both cramped for a system this expensive, and not all that fast. It’s also a QLC drive, which will give some qualms about endurance. But my bigger qualm is its combination of speed and capacity in a system this expensive. The rated 2,000/1,925 sequential read/write speeds are decent, but if you manage to fill up the cache (which we calculated at about 140GB in our review testing of the drive), performance drops way down to about 185 MBps. Granted, you’d have to be writing a lot of data from a similarly speedy drive to make that happen, but that’s not a situation you should have to worry about on a system you’re spending this much on. And the fact that the drive is only 1TB means you’ll have to install most of your game library on the much slower HDD.
When it comes down to it, if you’re spending over $5,000 on a system, you should probably spend more than about $140 (the current rough going rate for the 665p) on the boot drive. Thankfully, this is a configurable system and Maingear also offers speedier, roomier drives as options from both Samsung and WD. We’d choose one of those, even if it meant spending less on flashy things like lighting. Skipping the RGB fan upgrade alone (not really a necessity given an interior RGB light strip comes standard) will save you $200 that would be much better spent on roomier, speedier storage.
There’s plenty of room for expansion here, though. Two of the four RAM slots are empty, as are two of the three M.2 slots on the Asus motherboard. Note, though, that you’ll have to remove the graphics card to get at one of these, which is a much more daunting task given the hard tubing full of coolant.
There are also five empty SATA ports for adding even more storage. The board has three spare x1 PCIe slots and two spare x16 slots for adding expansion cars. But again, all of this hinges on your board choice, so choose wisely from the available options if configuring a Vybe yourself.
Gaming and Graphics
The Core i9-10900K in the Vybe may be new, but its RTX 2080 Ti is going on two years old. Given that, we don’t expect the Vybe to perform substantially higher than other high-end gaming desktops we’ve tested in the last year or so, particularly at resolutions above 1080p. Our competing systems are HP’s Omen Obelisk (Core i9-9900K, RTX 2080 Ti), Alienware’s Aurora R10 (Ryzen 9 3950X, RTX 2080 Ti), and the CLX Ra (Ryzen 3900X, RTX 2080 Ti).