Maingear Prysma HTPC

Maingear Prysma HTPC

Maingear returns for another round with [H] Consumer. They are currently one of the highest scoring integrators in our evaluation program. This time, we picked up their new Prysma Home Theater PC.

Introduction

About Our Program

As many of you might know by now, HardOCP doesn’t "review" systems; we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.

This process allows us to not only evaluate the system, but the OEM that builds it. Our goal is to give you the wide-angle lens view of the computer and the company so that you can make informed and educated decisions as to what you purchase or recommend to clients, friends, and family.

Maingear and HardOCP

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This is the second evaluation for Maingear. Our Maingear Prelude has been one of the better evaluation systems to come through the [H] Consumer offices. They are currently in second place for the highest score given to a system, following only OverdrivePC. We were more than impressed with every facet of our experience; from build quality, to tech support, to our system’s actual performance. Frankly, they went above and beyond what we expect from not only the major OEMs, but the boutiques as well. They showed that they stand by their computers and every claim they made on their website was evidenced somehow in our system. Our most significant criticism was the price. You pay a sizable price premium for a Maingear system, but unlike other integrators, you are most definitely getting something for your money.

This will be the second dedicated media center PC that we’ve had in our offices. The first was from Voodoo. Unlike our other systems which have only carried the XP Media Center Operating System (OS), the Voodoo ARIA and this system actually carry extra hardware to support multi-multimedia functionality. A key item in the hardware profile of media center systems is a TV tuner, which allows the computer to act as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), among other things.

We really liked how the Voodoo ARIA was presented and put together. Its black brushed aluminum finish made it very handsome and allowed it to blend in with most home theater setups. It also laid flat, and was about the height of two DVD players. It had an LCD touchscreen on the front with an Infrared (IR) sensor built into it for our Logitech remote. We also received a nice collection of software. However, it was severely lacking in functionality as the touchscreen panel was rendered useless by limitations of the operating system, and it lacked the ability to play HD broadcast content.

What We’re Looking For

Last time, Maingear was flat-out awesome. Frankly, we’re looking to see if their batting average is still where it was. Because this is a media center and our last system was very much a gaming machine, there will be some differences in how we evaluate this system, but the basic tenets will still be there – front end (sales, build quality, presentation), performance, back end (overall stability and technical support). This system is also about twice the price tag of our Prelude, so we’ll see if there is any difference in service. It’s much easier for a company to get better after a poor performance rather than after an already excellent performance, so we’re interested to see how Maingear is fairing six months after our previous experience.

Here’s what we got:

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*We ordered a Pentium D 920, but received a free upgrade to a 930.

**This motherboard and chipset is no longer offered by Maingear.

***This hard drive is no longer offered by Maingear for their Prysmas.

****This cooling solution is no long offered and has been replaced by a Zalman CNSP8000.

*****We were shipped this system overnight for free because of delays in our order.