After winning awards for Best Technical Support and Best Boutique Integrator in our recent "Best of the Best - 2006" article, the bar has never been set higher for Maingear. Both of those awards were well-earned as we have yet another great experience with this integrator.
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 how fast it ran 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.
We’ve evaluated two machines from Maingear so far, the Prelude and the Prysma. Our experience with the Prelude made for a great first impression of the company. At the time, it had the second highest score we had given to a system, beaten only by the Overdrive PC Gemini.SLI. We were thrilled with every aspect of the Prelude, from the solid build quality to the expertly handled technical support. The only downside was the high cost for a Maingear PC, but we couldn’t argue with what we received for that premium.
The Prysma HTPC also did well, but it didn’t quite live up to the expectations that had been set by the Prelude. The build quality wasn’t quite up to par, and there were some stability issues. While our experience with this Home Theatre PC may not have been as stellar as with the Prelude, Maingear’s technical support continued to be top notch. What issues we had with the Prysma were taken care of, and Maingear’s staff was there to help us every step of the way. We had several concerns about the Prysma’s build quality and some of the decisions made in the integration, and Maingear acted quickly after the fact to correct some of the mistakes we pointed out. They incurred a great deal of cost to themselves in order to address some of our issues and showed that they have a strong commitment to the consumer.
While the Prysma article was only four months ago, we were coming up on a year since our evaluation of a desktop model. The Prelude’s specifications are still decent to some extent, but much has changed in the hardware world since then, and we felt that it was time to revisit Maingear and see what we could get from one of their new Core 2 Duo systems.
First and foremost, we’re looking for the bar set by the Prelude to remain constant, although we’d be thrilled if we saw this system exceed it. We expect great build quality, impressive performance, and solid technical support. The specifications that we ordered for the F131 are top-notch, and we’re looking for similar performance to other Core 2 Duo systems like the Velocity Micro Gamers' Edge PCX and the Hypersonic Sonic Boom OCX.
What we’re not looking for are any stability or support issues out of the box. But whether we find an actual problem, or have to make one up, we expect the technical support to be as great as it was with the Prelude and the Prysma. We’ve seen other integrators’ tech support take a nosedive within just a few months before, and we’ll be greatly disappointed if our Maingear experience is not deserving of their recent awards.