This is my current mixer. It gets slogged on a lot by the live sound guys who are reacting as much to the advertising as anything else, but there's nothing else in its price category which comes close to what I want a mixer to do: I wanted to have 8 inputs which I could dedicate to doing on-the-fly mixes from my HD recorder, plus as many additional inputs as possible to avoid having to do a lot of repatching in ordinary use. Is it the best mixer out there? No. Is it the best that I was going to get for the $800 that I spent? I think quite possibly yes. I do run into occasional headroom problems and I think that if I were running the board for a big show I'd avoid this thing, but for the home use that it gets put through it's more than adequate.
The closest competition would be from the Allen & Heath MW:14:4:2, which has similar specs, but two less input channels. I have a hard time accepting that loss. Another option would be one of the Behringer Eurorack mixers, although I'm not terribly crazy about the Behringer line.
Eventuall the Mackie will be replaced (supplemented?) with a digital 8 bus mixer, especially when I reach the point of wanting to drive a 24-track recorder.