You don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of cash for an impressive PC gaming experience. That’s what custom computer system maker Maingear proves with its VYBE line, which starts at $699 USD but provides the power needed to play the latest games at high graphics settings.
So, I tested the gaming PC using multiple games, including those that support ray tracing, and found that the performance lived up to my expectations.
Maingear VYBE review model specifications
Maingear offers four pre-configured VYBE systems, with the most expensive costing $2,500. The VYBE system we tested costs $1,339 and is configured for 1440p gaming with the following hardware specifications:
- OS: Windows 10
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6-Core / 12 thread 3.8 GHz (4.4 GHz Max Boost)
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super with 8 GB DDR6 memory
- Memory: 16 GB HyperX Fury DDR4 RAM (2,933 MHz)
- Storage: 250 GB Intel 660p M.2 NVMe SSD; 1 TB Western Digital Blue 7200 RPM hard drive
- Motherboard: MSI B450M Pro-VD MATX
- Rear inputs: Four USB 2.0 ports; four USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports; one PS/2 port; one DVI-D input (motherboard); one VGA input (motherboard); ethernet port; 3.5mm audio jacks for stereo speakers, a mic, and line-in
- Front / side inputs: Three USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports; 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks
- Wireless: TP-Link TL-WN725N Wireless N USB adapter
- Measurements: 21.3 x 22.6 x 9 inches
The hardware isn’t powerful enough for a superior gaming experience with extremely high frame rates at 4K resolution, but it provides a modest one. A “boosted” version of this mid-range VYBE configuration doubles the RAM and SSD sizes for an additional $200, which wouldn’t necessarily have a big impact on performance. But if you want something beefier, you can dive deep into customizing the components, adding in features like a stylish liquid cooling system or a paint job to match your individual needs and budget.
Maingear VYBE design
Apart from the glowing Maingear logo on the front and some other lighting, the VYBE sports a fairly minimalistic design. The jet black chassis sports a clear side panel, but the only glowing components inside this configuration are an LED light strip and the GeForce RTX logo on the video card. The lack of features such as liquid cooling left the spacious interior looking a bit empty, but the chassis itself has quite a bit of weight and strength to it. This budget-friendly PC definitely doesn’t feel cheap.
The mid-tower’s front face is completely flat with no buttons or USB ports. Instead, those ports and the power button are on the left side of the chassis, next to the clear panel showing off the computer’s innards. This design can be either awkward or fantastically convenient depending on where you keep the computer.
It shouldn’t be much of a problem if you have the computer on your desk, but it’s not easy to work with if you keep it low to the floor like I did. Using the audio jacks and USB ports means a lot of bending down and reaching to plug in or remove USB drives, headsets, and other accessories. All the while, I was afraid that either I or someone else would accidentally bump into the plugs.
The VYBE features a single LED light strip inside that flashes patterns of colors. I’m not a huge LED lighting fan, but I appreciate the look, so I ended up dialing the brightness all the way down without turning it off completely. The downside is that the light strip works independently of the system itself, meaning that it doesn’t use software to control its intensity, colors, or patterns. Instead, everything is modified through a separate remote control. I’m guessing that most users will probably set the LED strip to their favorite setting before promptly losing the remote in a drawer.
It’s too bad the lights don’t use an API that reacts to games or sounds, especially since it’s a $21 feature, but I admit that it livens up the otherwise minimalist aesthetic.
This pre-configured model has an AMD Wraith cooling fan and heatsink for the CPU along with three case fans and a metal grill at the top for cooling, which adequately kept temperatures in check. They’re super quiet and I only noticed them after a couple of hours of playing. Given the relatively few components inside the roomy case, heat wasn’t too much of an issue.
It should also be noted that the standard motherboard for VYBE doesn’t have a built-in Wi-Fi antenna, which makes the external USB adapter necessary for a wireless connection. Although it’s not a big deal, especially if you have a hardwired connection, it does mean you’ll have one less USB port to work with right out of the box. Alternatively, Maingear offers an internal PCIe wireless adapter for a significantly higher cost.
Gaming performance on a budget
The VYBE delivers solid performance despite the budget-minded parts. The Ryzen 5 CPU and RTX 2060 Super video card work perfectly together, delivering relatively fast load times from the 7200 RPM hard drive. At the same time, the 250 GB SSD boot drive means less time waiting for Windows 10 to load up and more time getting straight to gaming.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super card provides about the same or slightly better performance than the non-super RTX 2070 card. Playing Control with all the graphics settings maxed out, DLSS off, and all ray tracing features turned on at 1920 x 1080 resolution averaged around 45 FPS in most areas. It would occasionally dip to around 40 FPS during high-action sequences and leap up to 60 FPS in dark and narrow areas, which is more or less what I experienced when playing Control on an RTX 2070.
Metro Exodus performed a little better, averaging 50 FPS in most areas while sometimes falling as low as 40 FPS. Battlefield V pulled in 60 FPS fairly consistently with RTX features on, only dipping by a few frames during big dramatic scenes.
As for non-RTX games, Borderlands 3 performs like a total badass, getting an average of 68 FPS at 1080p with all the settings maxed out – a marked improvement over the 52 FPS I got when vault hunting on an RTX 2070. Switching to 1440p averaged 48 FPS, which is about the same as the RTX 2070’s performance.
Playing the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint open beta at 1080p with everything maxed out delivered a solid 60 FPS experience. However, 1440p resolution nearly halved that, with performance dropping to around 37 FPS.
Unsurprisingly, frame rates for all games take a steep nosedive at 4K resolution, which essentially limits the RTX 2060 Super’s working resolution to 1440p for modest performance at the highest settings. Or you can opt for a boosted 1080p gaming experience. You’ll need to invest in something more powerful if you want to play at 4K, even for games that don’t use ray tracing.
Overall, the RTX 2060 Super provides solid video performance at high settings, but it probably won’t blow anyone away unless they’re upgrading from a very old video card. Nonetheless, it’s the most affordable way to experience ray tracing in games, which is still a fantastic thing to have.
Getting a VYBE
For just over $1,000, this pre-configured Maingear VYBE desktop gaming PC hits all the right notes, performance-wise. The aesthetic is a bit minimal, even with the LED light strip added in, but that’s not much of a sacrifice given the system’s performance and features.
The location of the front/side facing ports bothered me, since I had to keep reaching down to access them. However, that nuisance depends completely on where you place the mid-tower computer.
Ultimately, the Maingear VYBE performed a little better than I expected, given its components. It has the power to get high frame rates from just about any recent game at 1440p, but better at 1080p. Although its graphical speeds probably won’t knock anyone’s socks off, being able to play RTX-enabled games at or close to 60 FPS makes this gaming PC worthwhile. In any case, it is certainly an excellent starter PC for those who want to play the latest games without breaking the bank.