Maingear EX-L 15 Review
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Today we have a look at a very interesting 15-inch gaming laptop launched by Maingear. If you are interested in buying a laptop which is powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, at the moment there aren’t a lot of options to choose from since mostly you’ll find only multimedia or high-end gaming machines. The reason for this is because now there are only quad-core i7 versions of Intel’s latest and greatest CPUs, but starting with next month the more affordable dual core processors will be launched.
What sets this laptop apart from the rest of the Ivy Bridge-powered laptops we’ve seen is that it comes with a 15-inch screen whereas the rest are bigger 17-inch desktop replacements. The starting price for this beast is $1,499 but if you want the best hardware parts available you’ll have to pay no less than $2,349, which makes it just as expensive as an Origin laptop or one of Dell’s Alienware systems. Although you’ll be paying top dollars for this model, we have to warn you that the body of the laptop is generic as it is basically a shell borrowed from Clevo. So, what do you get for almost two and a half thousand dollars? Keep on reading to find.
At the heart of the Maingear EX-L 15 is an impressive third generation Intel Core i7-3820QM quad core processor running at 2.70 GHz. It is configured with 8GB of DDR3 RAM working at 1,333 MHz, while in the storage department it has a 750GB hard drive rotating at 7,200 rpm, along with a blazing fast 32GB solid state drive (SSD). The chipset is an Intel HM77, while the graphics power is handled by either the integrated Intel HD 4000 solution or by the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M. This gaming laptop runs on the 64-bit version of Microsoft’s Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.
It measures 14.8 x 10.1 x 1.4 – 1.7 inches and tips the scales at 7.2 pounds or 9.4 pounds if we take into account the AC adapter. The Clevo body used for the EX-L 15 is a matte black slab, featuring a slightly tapered lid, while the lid’s back panel is custom, featuring the company’s logo etched into it. Over the speaker grille you will notice a second logo that sits above the laptop’s keyboard.
We’re not saying that the body of the laptop is ugly but it is very generic and it looks seriously outdated. Even so, we find it a bit more attractive in comparison to Dell’s Alienware gaming laptops. Its keyboard consists of flat-topped keys that are closely packed, which is a configuration that we haven’t seen in quite a while since most of today’s laptops feature island-style keyboards. We should mention that this keyboard sits on the left in order to make room for a number pad. This keyboard is backlit so you won’t have any problems while playing games in the night.
As far as the touchpad is concerned, the one in this Maingear EX-L 15 has been built into the wrist rest and it is a bit depressed. For a very expensive laptop like this one, we find the touchpad to be small, plus it also lacks any sort of special coating on it. However, this shouldn’t be a problem for most people since we’re dealing with a gaming laptop and we all know that gamers prefer to use an external mouse.
One of the best features of this laptop would have to be the 15.6-inch full HD display. High-end gamers always appreciate screens that have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, plus this type of display is also good for watching Blu-ray movies as well as other types of HD content. This display is not only very bright but also clear, despite the fact that it has a matte coating. For $99 more you can get it with the 95% NTSC color gamut, which is quite similar to those IPS displays.
The audio system of the Maingear EX-L 15 consists of Onkyo-branded speakers and a subwoofer. Compared to other 15-inch laptops, the speakers sound deeper and louder but let’s not forget that we’re still dealing with laptop speakers.
Let’s move on with the review and talk about the laptop’s ports and connectivity features. In the video area it has been fitted not only with VGA and HDMI ports, but also with DisplayPort. In the audio area we find headphone and microphone jacks, along with S/PDIF/line-in jacks. For your data transfer needs you get one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0/eSATA combo port, mini FireWire and an SD card reader. On the networking front we notice the Ethernet port, Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi. The optical drive is a Blu-ray player / DVD burner.
If you’re not willing to spend so much money on a laptop, you could opt for the base version which is powered by an Intel Core i5-2520M processor while in the GPU area it has an Nvidia GeForce GT 670M. There are lots of hard drive options to choose from, including an impressive 600GB SSD which will increase the base price tag by an almost incredible $1,288.
Along with the Origin EON17-S, this Maingear EX-L 15 is probably the fastest and most powerful laptop in the world. Origin’s laptop does a little bit better in most games due to the reason that it comes with overclocked parts. The EX-L 15 can run Diablo III at the full HD resolution with the highest graphics settings at about 100 fps.
If you were dreaming of a good battery life from a quad-core laptop that has a very powerful GPU, this won’t happen as the Maingear EX-L 15 will last for a little over two and a half hours during a video playback test. While the performance might not be impressive, it still is considerably better than what the Origin can provide. However, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y480 which packs an Ivy Bridge processor can survive during the same conditions for almost four hours.
If you are willing to spend $85 more, you can get the laptop with a 30-day no dead pixel guarantee. For an extra $259, the Maingear EX-L 15 is available with a three-year warranty extension.