Maingear Turbo review: A gorgeous, compact gaming powerhouse

This compact gaming PC comes with tons of horsepower and good looks, but it doesn't come without a hefty price tag.

Maingear Turbo Hero
(Image: © Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

For many PC gamers, building your own rig is one of the biggest thrills of foregoing consoles and going all-in on PCs. Even for the most diehard PC gaming fans out there, though, there are merits to going with a custom builder, particularly if you want to make sure you've got the cleanest look possible. That's particularly true if you're going to go small with a compact build.

Maingear's latest PC, the Maingear Turbo, checks both of those boxes, managing to pack a dizzying level of power into a chassis that is much smaller than your usual full-tower gaming setups. More importantly, it doesn't sacrifice on power, combining robust chips from AMD with an incredibly unique custom water cooling setup on the higher-end models. But is it worth the high asking price?

Let's jump in and check it out.

Maingear Turbo: What you'll love

Maingear Turbo

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

It's hard to overstate the phenomenal craftsmanship of the Maingear Turbo's design. This isn't the smallest PC you can build by any means, but it strikes a solid balance between a small size and making room for the various components inside. The result is a PC that, while still bigger than a console, feels incredibly solid, dense, and could give consoles a run for their money.

It's hard to overstate the phenomenal craftsmanship of the Maingear Turbo's design.

The unit Maingear sent Windows Central is also equipped with its high-end APEX custom liquid cooling system. Maingear says APEX is machined "solid blocks of crystal-clear acrylic," and it's a stunning sight to see — especially when combined with the RGB lighting throughout. The polished chrome fittings used to connect the various parts of the cooling system are a nice touch that adds even more of a premium look to the whole package.

Most importantly, it's quiet. The APEX cooling system runs through all of the PC components, from the CPU to the graphics card, leaving only a barely-audible hum from the exhaust fans at the top of the case. Under load, you can hear that hum get a bit louder, but it's still vastly quieter than a typical gaming PC would be when running an intense game at 4K or churning large video files.

Maingear Turbo

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

The Maingear Turbo can be equipped with a wide range of hardware. The model sent to Windows Central was equipped with an AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT 12-core processor, 32GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card. Here's a quick look at the available hardware specs:

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CategoryMaingear Turbo
Operating SystemWindows 10
ProcessorUp to AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, 16-core 3.5GHz (4.7GHz max boost)
GraphicsAMD: Up to Radeon 5700XT 8GB GDDR6
NVIDIA: Up to GeForce Titan RTX 24GB GDDR6
MemoryUp to 64GB DDR4-3600
StorageUp to 2x m.2 NVME SSDs
Up to 1HDD or 2x SSDs
MotherboardsAMD X570: ASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming | AMD B550: ASROCK B550M-ITX/AC
Power SupplySF750 750-watt 80 PLUS Platinum Certified High Performance SFX PSU
CoolingEPIC 240 SuperCool CPU closed loop
APEX hand crafted liquid cooling
Dimensions12.3" (312.42mm) x 14.4" (365.76mm) x 6.7" (170.18mm)
Weight35 lbs (average)

As you'd expect from a high-end build, the Maingear Turbo configuration reviewed here crushed every task we threw at it. Taking Borderlands 3 on ultra settings, the Turbo held steady at around 90 frames per second at 1440p. Bumping things up to 4K on ultra settings dipped things significantly, coming in approximately 40 frames per second. However, there's plenty of headroom, particularly at 1440p, to bump those framerates up even higher if you're willing to dial the visual settings down a bit.

As a newer game, Borderlands 3 can be quite taxing. If you have a slate of older games that you frequently play, however, the system shines. I'm an occasional World of Warcraft player, for example, and the Turbo had no trouble pushing framerates over 140 frames per second with visual settings pushed to ultra.

Here's a look at how the Maingear Turbo performed across our usual mix of benchmarks.

3DMark

Time Spy (Higher is better)

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PCGPUScore
Maingear TurboRTX 2080 Ti14,028
Maingear VybeRTX 2080 SUPER11,217
MSI Aegis RRTX 20708,573
Acer Nitro 50RX 580X4,032
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti2,536
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)4,081
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)3,971
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)3,621
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10705,520
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 10806,774
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10603,469
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti2,491

The Maingear Turbo's RTX 2080 Ti performed exceptionally well with the Time Spy benchmark.

3DMark

Fire Strike (Higher is better)

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PCGPUScore
Maingear TurboRTX 2080 Ti26,350
Maingear VybeRTX 2080 SUPER23,337
MSI Aegis RRTX 207019,180
Acer Nitro 50RX 580X11,583
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti6,773
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,694
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,564
Razer Blade 15GTX 107013,560
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)9,078
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 107013,172
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108016,996
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10609,017
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti6,623

Similar to Time Spy, the RTX 2080 Ti crushed the Fire Strike benchmark as well.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Maingear TurboAMD Ryzen 9 3900X5,93847,117
Maingear VybeIntel Core i9-9900K6,04834,502
MSI Aegis RIntel Core i7-97005,44226,310
Acer Nitro 50Ryzen R5 2500X4,24614,777
Lenovo Legion C530 Cubei5-84004,75817,409
Lenovo Legion T730 Toweri7-8700K5,39621,918
Lenovo Legion C730 Cubei7-8700K5,38122,015
Razer Blade 15i7-8750H4,87217,910

The AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT has 12 cores and runs at a base clock speed of 3.8GHz, but can boost to 4.7 GHz.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

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DeviceScore
Maingear Turbo6,824
Maingear Vybe6,992
MSI Aegis R6,573
Acer Nitro 504,138
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube4,560
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower5,000
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube5,004

PCMark determines how well all of your PCs hardware works together for everyday tasks. The Maingear Turbo performed very well in this test, only being bested by Maingear's Vybe PC.

HDD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

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DeviceReadWrite
Maingear Turbo4,9954,280
Maingear Vybe1,698 MB/s1,756 MB/s
MSI Aegis R982 MB/s957 MB/s
Acer Nitro 50165.7 MB/s175.2 MB/s
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube931.0 MB/s159.9 MB/s
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower1,604 MB/s235.0 MB/s
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube1,552.9 MB/s258.9 MB/s
Razer Blade 152,722 MB/s1,217 MB/s

Using an NVMe SSD, the Maingear Turbo is exceptionally fast.

If you're mainly gaming at 1440p or 1080p resolutions, the Maingear Turbo should perform exceptionally well with framerates peaking north of 100 frames per second on most games with high settings. It should also be a great PC for 4K gaming, though you'll have to turn down the visual settings to reach anything approaching 60 frames per second. For 4K gaming, you might do well to wait for NVIDIA's latest GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards.

Maingear Turbo: What you'll dislike

Maingear Turbo

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

One significant barrier to entry for the Maingear Turbo is its price. It starts at $1,495 for the base configuration, but it quickly climbs in price from there. To get to the maximum configurations with Maingear's custom APEX cooling system, you're looking at above $5,000, which is probably out of reach for many buyers. Fortunately, there's a wide variety of ways you can configure the Turbo without the APEX cooling system, in which case you'll get a standard liquid CPU cooler packed in.

Despite its wealth of customization options, there's another big downside to choosing the Turbo. There are no configurations available with Intel CPUs. Maingear has gone all-in with AMD on this particular system, meaning you're locked out of picking Intel's 10th generation chips.

That's not necessarily a bad thing if you're not particularly tied down to either major CPU maker. AMD's Ryzen series performs admirably and can crunch through tasks, particularly if you aim for the higher end. However, it's worth noting there's no wiggle room here if you're considering an Intel system.

Lastly, if you do decide to shell out for Maingear's APEX cooling system, you're going to be severely limited when it comes to upgrading your PC parts. Between the size of the chassis and the custom-cut liquid cooling setup, even swapping out your graphics card is likely a no-go. That's particularly true if you're looking to upgrade to NVIDIA's latest RTX 30 series, which features some of the chunkiest graphics cards we've seen thus far.

Should you buy the Maingear Turbo?

Maingear Turbo Hero

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

If you have the money to spare and aren't married to the idea of building your own rig, the Maingear Turbo is definitely worth considering. Its compact size and custom APEX cooling definitely make it an excellent showpiece that can consistently tackle virtually any intense game or task you throw at it. It's easily one of the best gaming desktop PCs out there right now if you're going the pre-built route.

If money is tight, or having a compact rig isn't crucial to you, then you may want to consider another pre-built system. The Maingear Vybe, for example, offers ample performance and configurations start at $700.