Maingear is one of the more prominent names when it comes to competitively priced gaming PCs and the new Maingear MG-1 line is no exception. It's the manufacturer's current flagship, which can be highly customized to include some of the best CPUs for gaming and the best graphics cards to suit your budget. However, at the bottom of the pricing spectrum is this variant which includes an Intel Arc A750, a $249 GPU, and some pretty middling specs for the grand total of $1,099.
And that means you're paying over the odds for a system that isn't really up to par here. If you can up your budget just a touch more, though, the system should become far more capable.
On paper, the Intel Arc A750 is an absolutely solid buy for the money considering its price-to-performance overall. In our review, we awarded Team Blue's mid-range Alchemist GPU a 70% score for its competitive 1080p and 1440p performance contrasted against the perennially popular RTX 3060. However, there are caveats, such as needing resizable BAR enabled, which this Maingear MG-1 build has turned on with the bundled Intel Core i5-13400 more than up to the task.
The aggressive price point of the GPU is almost entirely snuffed out considering that this build starts at nearly $1,100. That is significantly more expensive than an RTX 4060 build, many of which hover around the $970 - $1,100 mark and offer things you just won't get with an Intel Alchemist build at this point in time. Our recent head-to-head Arc A750 vs RTX 4060 comparison goes into more detail for the raw comparison figures. It's especially damning for our Arc-enabled system that you can spend $119 more at Maingear itself and get the mainstream Nvidia GPU instead. That makes this one a particularly hard sell.
GPU: Intel Arc A750 Graphics (8GB GDDR6)
CPU: Intel Core i5-13400F (10 Cores/16 Threads)
Cooler: Master Hyper 212 Air Cooler
Motherboard: MSI Pro B660M-A CEC DDR4 WiFi
Memory: 16GB T-Force Delta RGB DDR4-3600 (2x8GB)
Storage: 512GB Solidigm P41 Plus SSD
PSU: 600W EVGA Power Supply
OS: Windows 11 Home
Lighting: RGB Lighting Kit & Rear RGB Fan
This variant of the Maingear MG-1 certainly looks the part, though, with the chassis itself adorned with RGB light strips behind the glass which emanate on the front badge, and the case is lightweight and high quality overall. As expected from a budget build, you aren't going to see one of the best AIO coolers here, and nor does it really need it given the relatively humble 600w EVGA power supply inside.
That's considering the TDP of the Intel Arc A750 of 225W and the CPU's base power of 65W. Ultimately, with these specs, air cooling is the way to go, and there's a more-than-adequate amount of space inside the case for effective cooling, with plenty of vents in the case itself. Fortunately, this build uses the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Air Cooler, which would certainly give some of the best CPU air coolers a run for their money. The company clearly didn't cheap out on cooling here, and it's all the better for it.
Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for the choice of RAM nor the SSD inside of the Maingear MG-1 | Intel Arc A750 build. That's because this machine is rocking a pretty middling dual-channel kit of the 16GB T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 clocked at 3600 MHz (which now retails for just $40) and the Solidigm P41 Plus 512GB, which is far from one of the best SSDs you can slot into your PC's Gen 4.0 M.2 port.
You can find this capacity drive for $30, with 1TB retailing for $43, and it's very much a case of getting what you pay for. While many top-end Gen 4 drives utilize DRAM and advanced controllers such as the tried-and-true Phison E18 controller. Instead, this one caps out at just 3,500 MB/s which barely hits the cap of what Gen 3.0 M.2 NVMe drives could do over five years ago.
The Maingear MG-1 | Intel Arc A750 gaming PC doesn't do a horrible job in either 1080p or 1440p most of the time. Game optimization is a big part of that, however, the raw numbers are still more than playable even in demanding titles. This is particularly evidenced by Hitman 3 and Metro Exodus Enhanced going well beyond 100 fps in both target resolutions; it's certainly no slouch as far as frame rates goes in theory, but there's one major problem holding the machine back in this respect.
It all comes down to the Intel Arc drivers themselves which haven't exactly played nice with the build in the weeks that I've been testing the PC. For this review, I downloaded the latest Intel Arc driver (18.104.22.16844 from mid-August) and installed through both the Intel Arc control panel and manually, too. This is where my biggest problem with the Maingear MG-1 | Intel Arc A750 build comes into play, the fact that the benchmarked games and software crashed on many occasions even after fresh driver installs and repairs.
The games did eventually run, but stability wasn't exactly guaranteed. When changing the target resolution from 1080p to 1440p for testing purposes it would often result in a crash or the A750 itself would encounter "fatal errors" due to issues with the 8GB DDR6 VRAM. It made using this machine a frustrating experience in a way I've never seen from a budget build before.
The Intel Core i5-13400 inside the Maingear MG-1, however, is one of the better budget processors offering strong gaming and synthetic performance overall. Considering the relatively budget price of this machine, the company definitely made the right call going with the Raptor Lake CPU instead of opting for an older Alder Lake version. Despite the fact there's a good chance you're getting actual Alder Lake cores, and therefore not necessarily Raptor Cove P-cores and their extra cache (Intel use both Alder Lake and Raptor Lake dies for the 13400-series) you do get more cores for your money compared to the Core i5 12400 and consequently more cache because of it. For gaming at 1080p and 1440p, you're absolutely in good hands here.
Prices aside, the decision to go with bargain bin storage here really hurts the performance of this machine as while the 512GB Solidigm P41 Plus M.2 NVMe SSD is technically a Gen 4.0 NVMe drive, it certainly doesn't perform like one. When crunching the numbers, it outputted performance of a middling Gen 3.0 drive and is disappointing given the fact that it's now halfway through 2023, when the rates on fast and established Gen 4.0 models, such as the WD Black SN850 and Samsung 980 Pro are plummeting to record lows with the adoption of Gen 5.0 SSDs.
✅ You want to throw Intel's GPU division a bone: Sadly there really isn't any other reason to recommend this overpriced and underspecced machine.
❌ You're after a good value budget rig: There are far better value systems on offer even from Maingear itself.
❌ You hate troubleshooting: We've had serious errors just in testing this machine, and the inconsistent Intel Arc drivers will likely require some troubleshooting on your part down the line, too.
What results is a machine that just doesn't operate like a $1,100 build, which is especially damning considering the decision to only slot in 512GB worth of storage which will fill up incredibly fast. By the time that all of the benchmark games and software was installed, the rig only had around 8GB of usable space, meaning you're going to have to do some game management, and no-one loves that.
Now, while it's true you can simply open the case up and slot an extra NVMe drive in there, that really shouldn't be the case for a computer costing over a thousand dollars, not when many of its rivals ship with 1TB as standard. It makes me seriously question just how viable this machine really is for the future as an investment in the PC gaming space, because it's already showing signs of struggling right now.
Factoring in the price point, the mediocre specs, and the inconsistent nature of the Intel Arc A750 in its current form, I can't really recommend this particular build to anyone, even if they are on a tight budget. While the 1080p and 1440p performance is solid when it works, the number of crashes I encountered and the difficulties with game stability in general mean that you're ultimately better off investing in a rig that's running something from Team Green or Red instead at a similar or even slightly higher price point.
For $1,100, this one just isn't fit for purpose, so your money is better spent on a higher spec of Maingear MG-1.