The demand for high-end home theater PCs has risen significantly from since Valve announced the concept of Steam Machines. The living room has evolved into the multimedia nexus of the house, not only focused on television but high-end audio environments and streaming services. Attention is shifting away from specialized hardware to handle each aspect to a singular powerhouse that can boast the best possible gaming performance, television integration and audio replication.
Not only could these custom computers dwarf offerings from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of processing power, but could offer versatility not possible on a game console. However, they are something that needs to be tailored to the individual setup of each home. In just a few short years since its founding, STEIGER DYNAMICS has created some of the sleekest and expensive machines to dominate the space.
The latest in their line of high-end tailored machines is the MAVEN, a beautiful hand-brushed aluminum chassis that sucks the heat from the hands at the slightest touch. Available in black and silver, the aforementioned all-aluminum chassis is a thick 4 mm thick, meaning it not only wicks away heat but remains completely rigid without needing additional crossbars for support.
An empty chassis weighs in at a healthy 26 pounds. The front of the system is devilishly simple–a power button and a slot-loaded optical drive. Hidden behind a small door are two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and audio ports. Just for aesthetics’ sake, it is best to leave this door closed so as not to interrupt the flow of the finish.
Graphics cards have their own venting solution on the side of the chassis, while the processor’s liquid-cooled setup exhausts through the removable panel on top of the system. This allows for optimal heat management, but also means that you won’t be stacking anything on top of the MAVEN.
The door protecting the front ports could not be opened completely without lifting the system slightly off of its base. This could be an issue of hinge length or placement, but the door should not see much traffic anyway. If you use the ports, leave it open; if not, close it. The many motherboard choices available offer plenty of rear USB and audio ports. Preserving the lines of the chassis while creating a more finished home theater setup should take priority.
UPDATE: The production model chassis has a modified door and does not have the same issue as the prototype we tested.
The MAVEN is as powerful as your heart and wallet desires. Without the addition of bloatware, the entire experience is fluid and satisfying. Optional moderate and aggressive overclocking are available for select processors and are stress-tested and benchmarked for a grueling 72 hours. Core components are guaranteed to work out of the box, with all system updates and the latest drivers already installed. Systems are preconfigured before shipping, so each system is plug-and-play ready.
With our test system, three NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Tis laughed at every piece of software we could throw at it. It was built for 4K gaming and is a testament to how the MAVEN platform can be configured. On an array of three 1080p displays, games steadily hovered around 150 frames per second.
There really are no negatives to a system like the MAVEN. The only limits are the evolution of technology and funding. A god-like system commands a high price tag.
Withholding the value of the selected internal parts, the MAVEN’s true cost is around $250 to $300. For that, customers get a hand-built computer assembled with parts of their choice. Custom length wiring keeps the interior free of clutter and standard liquid-cooling keeps temperatures and noise to a minimum. If that’s not enough, each MAVEN comes with two-year part replacement warranty with live-chat and remote desktop support if ever needed.
For those who do not have any experience building computers, or prefer the ease of an assembled system, the MAVEN offers a range unlike any other. The entry level “Pure” starts at $999, with a mid-tier “Core” from $1,599 and an enthusiast “Reference” model from $2,199. Even at the lowest level, the MAVEN is a good value for the build quality and peace of mind alone. And for those who need to upgrade to the latest and greatest after the warranty period has ended, the MAVEN is two thumb screws away from endless potential.
The MAVEN is a new level of quality for the living room computer. While the only uniquely STEIGER component of the system is the chassis, it is the support behind the product–with the warranty, support team, stress-testing, updates and more–that makes the value proposition a no-brainer.
Think of it as any high-end machine. There are Hondas and Toyotas that do the job just fine, but the MAVEN is more akin to a high-tier luxury car like Mercedes. While a car can be built by hand-selecting each and every part and hoping they will all work in sync, it is a fool’s errand. Thus, a manufacturer like STEIGER DYNAMICS, who can not only build such high-end products but also take the time to make sure it works perfectly when it arrives to the customer and support it for years after, is a rarity in custom computer manufacturers. The MAVEN is a beautiful product, assembled by a master’s hand and shipped with confidence.
To find out more about STEIGER DYNAMICS, visit the company’s website at steigerdynamics.com.