So the company I work for at my day job recognized my need for a new PC. As a business analyst I need a PC that can not only calculate formulas within the latest version of Excel that consumes a ton of memory and processing speed – but can keep up with me as well. Our I.T. outsourcing company handed me a hardware quote for a mid-range Dell computer. The quote was somewhere around two thousand dollars. For half that I could get a Maingear Potenza – and I did. Not only does it contain more processing power than the one they suggested, but it comes from a shop specializing in gaming PC’s that are nothing short of amazing.
In full disclosure, I was sent the Maingear Potenza for review, then ended up purchasing it. Three things before I get into a full on review of the PC. First, it is super compact for a high powered machine with overclocking capabilities. Second, you really can’t beat the price point when it comes to a PC of this caliber. Third, the Maingear Potenza is now available at Microsoft stores. That is pretty huge for them and for Microsoft – to be able to offer something that isn’t a mass produced and mediocre business or gaming machine. Rather, each Maingear machine – including the Potenza – is individually built by hand and fully inspected and tested before going out the door.
That has been the selling point – to me at least – of Maingear over the years. After visiting their facility, I was sold on the concept and personal touches that go into each machine. I hope that as they become more successful they adhere to this business model that has created a niche for them and companies like Origin PC in a crowded gaming PC marketplace. Of course, this contributes to the cost of the PC’s, outside of parts – which are entirely customizable by the customer. Such is the case with the Maingear Potenza, their first mass-market (as in wider audience) PC made for affordability and compactness.
“The MAINGEAR Potenza Super Stock proves that affordable and powerful are two words that go together when talking about gaming PCs. Rounding out the whole package is the size and look of this stylish compact powerhouse that still runs all the latest titles on the market. We are proud to offer this innovative product at Microsoft retail stores nationwide,” says Alex Cook, General Manager, Worldwide Merchandising, Microsoft Retail Stores via press release.
So the Maingear Potenza Super Stock (as it’s officially called) looks very confusing on the desk. It is about half the size or less of a regular Maingear gaming PC, a slick matte rectangle of gaming and computing prowess. The official measurements are 14.75 x 7.5 x 9.25 inches (that’s H x W x D) so it pretty much fits anywhere you want to put it. I prefer mine on my desk, so I never run the risk of kicking it with my restless feet. The thing is basically silent, with Maingear’s VRTX (vertical exhaust) system in place. That’s cool air in the bottom, hot air out the top. Everything flows very smoothly inside this machines.
So let’s talk specs before I tell you how it’s been performing for me over the month I’ve owned it. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics card is complimented with 2GB of dedicated overclocked memory and ability to handle 3D technology to fully capture actions in games. 16GB memory next to an Intel® Core™ i7-3770 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.90 GHz, next to a 30GB SSD drive and a 1TB hard drive. The thing I like about the presence of the SSD drive is that it speeds up boot time significantly. I can barely take a sip of coffee before this thing is asking me to log in. Of course, in addition there are like 1000 USB ports (well, maybe only 10) including USB 3.0. The retail price is currently $1,599 which might seem expensive for a PC, but the Potenza is just as powerful as a much more expensive PC, all in a smaller package.
I hooked up the Potenza at work, because as a Business Analyst I use database programs and Microsoft Excel to their most extremes. With Excel capable of one million rows per sheet instead of the old standard of sixty thousand, the size of these worksheets has exponentially risen. Before getting the Potenza I was experiencing slowness in calculations and so on. I work with large sets of data, so I needed a machine that could handle it without crashing. While the Potenza sometimes locks Excel in a calculation, unlike the previous PC’s I was using, I am able to do other tasks (like screw around on Twitter) while it is calculating in the background. So the Potenza easily passed the business test, which for me was the most important one.
When it comes to using a PC for work, getting a gaming machine makes perfect sense. The Potenza is built for speed, both in graphics rendering and processing. While Excel doesn’t push the machine in the graphics territory, it was sure pushing the machine in the processing bit. Of course, that’s because of the tasks that I was performing, not just cause Excel is a memory hog. Though I quickly turn it into one. We’re talking routinely over 60% of available memory during calculations.
At its heart though, this is a gaming machine so let’s not forget about that. There isn’t too much to review here though, since it handles games and graphics rendering with very little pixelation or jumpiness in movement. I wanted to play Sim City, but we all know how that went. I settled for a couple sessions of Trials: Evolution through Steam. I’m not a huge PC gamer, most of that has to do with coordination though. At some point in my life, all my fingers have been broken, so they aren’t as responsive as I’d like them to be with the keyboard. However, the game played perfectly, as expected on a Maingear box. I’m looking forward to downloading Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon this weekend though.
To sum up, what you have here is a lower priced gaming machine that captures all of the greatness of the Maingear line of gaming PC’s. While it is not liquid cooled, I haven’t had any overheating problems with it, though I’m not mining bitcoins so I suppose I really haven’t pressed the graphic processing speed to the limit. If you are in the market for a new gaming PC or need a more powerful machine for your business, I can’t recommend the Maingear Potenza more. Not only does it come with a competitive price point, but you are getting that hands-on touch from an independent company that prides themselves on quality over quantity. That only leads to products that kick-ass whether you are gaming or calculating.
The Maingear Potenza Super Stock can be found in all 30+ Microsoft stores nationwide and can be found online at Microsoft. It is also supported in the US for one year including parts and labor. For more information, visit Maingear.com.