Battle Of The Boutique Behemoths: iBuyPower Vs. Maingear PC

Most enthusiasts prefer to build things on their own boxes, but the time involved can often be excessive, especially when overclocking and stability tests are (necessary) parts of the plan. If you’d rather spend your leisure time doing anything but banging your head against the desk (and don't mind paying a bit extra for that luxury), a boutique builder might be the best way to get exactly what you’re looking for in a PC. But whom should you choose?

Two leaders in configuration options, iBuyPower and Maingear PC, designed a pair of $4,200 systems specifically to meet high-end performance demands in gaming and general multi-tasking. Comparing these should answer some questions about which company provides the best build quality and/or value.

Custom-Built PC Specifications
iBuyPower Paladin

Maingear PC EPHEX


Intel Core i7 965 (3.20 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)
Overclocked to 3.73 GHz (28x 133.3)

Intel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache)
Overclocked to 3.80 GHz (14x 200)

CPU Cooler

Asetek Low Cost Liquid Cooling (LCLC)
2x 120 mm Dual-Fan Radiator

Maingear Arctic X20 by CoolIT Systems
2x 120 mm Dual-Fan Radiator


Asus P6T Deluxe V2
Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366

Asus P6T
Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366


Corsair 6.0 GB
DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24 (2T)

Kingston 6.0 GB
DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-20 (1T)


2x XFX GeForce GTX 295 1.8 GB SLI
576/1,242MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484

3x EVGA GeForce GTX 285 1.0 GB, SLI
648/1,476MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484

System Hard Drive

Intel X25-M 80GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s SSD

Intel X25-M 80GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s SSD

Storage Hard Drive

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B 1.0 TB
7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Western Digital Caviar Black 1.0 TB
7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s


Integrated HD Audio

Integrated HD Audio


Integrated Gigabit Networking

Integrated Gigabit Networking


Corsair CMPSU-1000HX 1,000 W Modular
ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91, 80-Plus

Silverstone DA1000 1,000 W Modular
ATX 12V 2.2 / EPS 12V, Active PFC


LG GH22NP20 22X DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW
Panasonic SW-5584 2x BD-RE, 8x BD-R

Lite-On iHAS422-08 22X DVD±R, 8X DVD±RW


12-In-1 Internal Flash Card Reader/Writer

All-In-One USB 2.0 Flash Card Reader/Writer



Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Windows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1





FarCry 2, Halo 2


Warranty and Price

Warranty Period

3-Year Warranty

14-months (3-year option add $199.99)


$4,368 ($4,209 w/o Keyboard, Mouse, BRD)

$4,205 ($4,405 with 3-year Warranty)

iBuyPower skewed the price comparison a bit by including a keyboard, mouse, and BRD compared to Maingear system, but none of these will affect benchmark performance. Ignoring those parts puts these systems within $10 of each other, making the head-to-head extremely well-balanced.

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  • mansalim
    ibuypower is cooler i think.. you got everything, quad sli, BD player, SSD drive, 965 extreme at almost the same price point.. haha good article. wish i had the money
  • astrowhiz
    Great, another article with systems you can't buy in the UK.
  • zebzz
    Dosent matter you can build one of those rigs yourself here is a breakdown.

    Product Name Qty Line Total
    Dell Ultrasharp 3008WFP 30"
    Widescreen LCD Monitor 1 £1,091.34
    Intel Core i7 965 3.20Ghz
    (Nehalem) Extreme Edition
    (Socket LGA1366) - Retail 1 £805.00
    XFX GeForce GTX 295 1792MB
    GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI 2 £942.98
    Intel X25-M Mainstream 80GB
    2.5" SATA-II SSD 1 £298.98
    Asus P6T Deluxe Intel X58
    (Socket 1366) DDR3 Motherboard 1 £239.99
    Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB)
    DDR3 PC3-12800C8 (1600MHz) 1 £157.99
    Microsoft Windows Vista
    Ultimate SP1 64-Bit 1 £149.99
    LG GGW-H20L Blu-Ray Rewriter
    & HD-DVD ROM Serial ATA Drive 1 £149.99
    Coolermaster Real Power 1000w
    Modular Power Supply 1 £142.99
    Coolermaster HAF 932 Case 1 £105.79
    Swiftech H2O 120 Compact Kit 1 £103.49
    Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B 1TB
    SATA-II 16MB Cache 1 £71.29
    Razer Lycosa Gaming Keyboard 1 £61.00
    Razer DeathAdder Blue 1800dpi
    High Precision Gaming Mouse 1 £35.98
    Scythe Card Reader &
    Floppy Drive - Black 1 £26.44
    LG GH22NP20 22x DVD±RW IDE
    Dual Layer ReWriter 1 £16.99
    Total: £4,420.47
  • the-real-link
    Zebzz, isn't that around $6,000 USD? There's quite a difference between 4,000 pounds and 4,000 dollars I'm afraid. I've not priced out everything you listed in USD but still, that seems to give you quite a sweet system!
  • cmashwin
    Since an overclocked 920 beats the 965 in most of the tests, why waste money on the 965? even if u burn out ur 920 during suicide runs, u wud still have enuff cash to buy another 920!
  • david__t
    Who in their right mind would build a $4000 PC and use onboard sound - utterly ridiculous.
  • zebzz
    If you were going to buy this system in USD at the moment it would be $6,648.71, but I would do as smashwin suggested and look towards compnents that can provide similar or better performance for a reduce prices managed to get it down to £3,600. Also dont forget as a system builder they will get discounts on hardware and they will also get the OS for a fraction of the cost we would pay for it and I also put a 30" Dell screen becuase the tests were being done at 2560x1600, they mgiht have come with smaller screens.

    And for dvid__t there has also been a SB X-Fi card added to that new lower price. The system should be clockerable to about 3.8 to 4.0Ghz