Maingear Epic Rush X79 review

The Maingear Epic Rush X79 doesn't come cheap, but powerful hardware and impressive gaming performance prove that you get what you pay for.
Photo of Maingear Epic Rush X79

When it comes to competitive gaming, there are some things that no level of practice or skill can bestow; processing power that never lags, graphics that are smooth as silk, a system that offers more power than most gamers can dream of, and then be overclocked to push even further. These advantages, though, can come at a steep price. Case in point: The Maingear Epic Rush X79 ($7,398 direct), the latest premium gaming desktop that blows lesser systems right out of the water. Our review unit comes with a huge price tag, but when you want the best, it doesn’t come cheap. (That said, the Epic Rush X79 starts at a more reasonable $3,220 with less powerful components.) In any case, the Maingear Epic Rush X79 is one serious competitor, even in a category filled with top-of-the-line hardware and jaw-dropping performance.

Design and Features
The Epic Rush X79 is a slick-looking system, with Corsair Obsidian 350D windowed case measuring 17.7 by 8.3 by 17.7 inches (HWD). It has been modified with a large cooling radiator where the case normally has open drive bays, and customized with a bright red paint job and a modified front panel sporting a slot-loading Blu-ray drive and the front of a Koolance TNK-501 liquid cooling reservoir. Also on the front of the case are two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, jacks for headphones and microphone, and a reset button for undoing any tweaks made while overclocking the system.

Around the back of the tower you’ll find an additional 10 USB ports (six USB 3.0, four USB 2.0), with one dedicated to Asus’ ROG Connect overclocking tool (more on that below). There are a couple of legacy ports, like a combined USB/eSATA port that gives you a fast connection for older external hard drives, and a PS/2 port for older peripherals. An Ethernet port provides Gigabit LAN connectivity, while a small security slot lets you secure the tower with a Kensington lock. A selection of audio connections gives you output for headsets or speakers, including S/PDIF for digital surround sound. Coming off of the two graphics cards inside are a collection of video outputs: four DVI-D ports, two HDMI outputs, and two DisplayPorts.

Open up the windowed side panel—it’s easy, thanks to tool-free thumbscrews—and you’ll see the heart of the machine. The Epic Rush X79 is built around an Asus Rampage IV GENE motherboard, outfitted with an Intel Extreme Core i7-4960X processor, a six-core monster paired with 16GB of RAM. If you want to expand, the four memory slots will actually accept up to 8GB each, letting you bump it up to 32GB total. You’ll also see a pair of AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards in CrossFire configuration, and a Corsair AX1200i 1,200-watt power supply to power it all. The cabling is immaculate, with white sleeving and relatively straightforward tubing for the liquid cooling system. Several cooling fans keep the air flowing quietly throughout.

The Asus ROG Rampage IV Gene motherboard comes equipped with ROG Connect, a simple overclocking utility from Asus. Connect to a second device like a laptop (via the indicated USB port) for a simple dashboard based overclocking tool that lets you rev up the processor in real time, even in the middle of a gaming session. If you want to revert back to the default set-up, you can do so either through the ROG Connect tool, or simply use the ROG Connect reset button on the front of the PC.

While you won’t find all of the accessible drive bays that are normally offered in the Obsidian 350D chassis, our review unit was outfitted with two Samsung 840 Evo 500GB solid-state drives (SSD) in RAID 0, as well as a 4TB, 7,200rpm hard drive providing massive storage space. While there is one PCI Express x16 slot, it isn’t easily accessible thanks to the pair of GPUs and all of the cooling hardware that fills the tower. Aside from the expandable memory slots mentioned above, there’s not really any room for upgrades, but the hardware is top notch, and should do the trick for years.

Performance
The combined might of a hexacore Intel Core i7-4960X and two AMD Radeon R9 290X GPUs is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s one of the primary reasons you buy a $7,000 gaming machine. For testing purposes we left the Epic Rush X79 in the same state as it came, with no tweaking or optimizing for better performance. Simply put, this system just screams, and the overclocking capability lets you push it even harder than your stock components would normally allow.

In processor-centric tests, like PCMark 7 and Cinebench, the Maingear Epic Rush was very near the top of the heap, scoring 6,436 points (PCMark 7) and 14.12 points (Cinebench). The only systems we’ve tested that offer better scores were the Editors’ Choice Falcon Northwest Fragbox (GeForce GTX 780 SLI) (7,322 points PCMark 7, 9.91 points Cinebench) and the Origin Genesis (Core i7-3970X) (6,584 points PCMark 7, 14.49 points Cinebench). In multimedia tests the system pushed to the lead in Handbrake, completing our video transcoding test in 19 seconds—the fastest of the bunch—and finishing Photoshop in 2 minutes 30 seconds.

The dual AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards aren’t exactly holding it back either. The muscle provided by the two cards in Crossfire configuration resulted in impressive graphics and gaming results. In 3DMark11, the Epic Rush X79 scored 26,419 points (Entry) and 9,409 points (Extreme). Comparing the Extreme result, which shows the outside limits of what the dual-GPUs can do, puts it toward the middle of the pack, falling behind the likes of the Maingear F131 Super Stock (GTX Titan) (9,934 points) and the Falcon Northwest Mach V (Triple Titan) (12,505 points).

While it may not have topped all the graphics tests, it did offer some solid performance, producing 220 frames per second (fps) in Aliens vs. Predator and 175 fps in Heaven, both at full HD resolution and high-detail settings. Here, the Epic Rush X79 rises very close to the top, beating out most competing systems and falling only a short step behind the very best machines we’ve tested. The Falcon Northwest Mach V (Triple Titan), holds the top Aliens vs. Predator score (222 fps), and in Heaven (198 fps), showing how narrow the margin is between the Epic Rush X79 and the top spot.

Conclusion
The Maingear Epic Rush X79 is a seriously powerful premium gaming PC, with a price to match. While a few other top systems manage to edge just ahead in certain performance metrics, the reality is that with this system at your side, you’ll be able to enjoy even the most demanding games with blazing speeds and silky smooth frame rates. The Falcon Northwest Fragbox (GeForce GTX 780 SLI) retains the Editors’ Choice based entirely upon its marginally better performance numbers, but the Maingear Epic Rush X79 is still one of the top gaming rigs available today. You’ll pay a pretty penny for that quality, but it won’t leave you feeling shortchanged.

Specifications
Primary Optical Drive BD/DVD/CD +/-RW
Processor Family Intel Core i7
Storage Type HDD, SSD
Graphics Card AMD Radeon R9 290X
Operating System Windows 8.1
RAM 16 GB
Type Gaming
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 4.5 TB

Verdict
The Maingear Epic Rush X79 doesn't come cheap, but powerful hardware and impressive gaming performance prove that you get what you pay for.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc