Maingear EX-L 15 – Excellent gaming laptop
Ivy Bridge CPUs are out now but they are limited only to high end multimedia or gaming laptops, till now. This is because only Core i7 quad core models are out in the market now but that is expected to change soon when dual core processors will come out soon and flood the markets.
Maingear EX-L 15 is different from other Ivy Bridge laptops we have seen because this is a 15 inches and not 17 inches gaming machine. Still, the EX-L15 gives you all features that you would expect in a high end desktop replacement laptop – it has good GPU, 1080p full HD screen and the overall package is just a bit lighter and smaller.
My review model had a price tag of $2,349 and a cheaper alternative to this laptop is Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 which costs $1,079. The price of EX-L 15 is same as that of Origin or Alienware laptop and all these three have comparable components inside.
I wasn’t too excited about the body of the laptop. It is generic body and the shell is made by a company called Clevo. A lot of PC brands use their products (including Origin). For such a high price tag, the manufacturer should have done better.
Clevo body used here has black matte slab and the lid is slightly tapered. There is Maingear logo on the lid and speaker grille has another logo on it.
The body isn’t ugly looking but it is definitely too generic. The design looks out dated. A lot of manufacturers are now emphasizing on thinner designs having premium quality materials inside but Maingear doesn’t seem to care about that. That said, this design is still better than Alienware laptops which look like big plastic boxes having grilles all over.
Maingear Ex-L 15 review says that keyboard of this laptop has flat topped closely packed keys and such layout isn’t seen much now. Most laptops have island styled buttons because you don’t end up with any mishits. There is a full sized number pad on the right too. The keyboard is shifted to the left for making room for the number pad but I found that the keyboard is too off center and I often ended up making mistakes while typing.
I have one more gripe about the keyboard – the chassis’ front lip has sharp edge and hence resting your palms on it is uncomfortable. On the bright side, there is backlighting on the keyboard and this will be helpful while gaming in the night.
Maingear EX- L15 has touchpad that is built in to wrist rest. The touch pad is depressed and it doesn’t have any surface or coating. The size of the touchpad is a bit small considering this is a 15 inches laptop. This won’t be a problem because you will be using a separate mouse for your gaming sessions anyways. Maingear is left at Clevo’s mercy, the ones who built the chassis.
Display of the Maingear EX-L 15 is the main highlight of this system. The display is 15.6 inches big and has a resolution of full HD 1,920×1,080 pixels. Display of this system is bright and clear and it is good for playing HD or Blu-ray videos. Display is bright and clear and it has a matte coating on it. There is an option for better quality 95 per cent NTSC colour gamut for $99 more. This is just like IPS screens that you get on higher end notebooks. You can get it if you are going to do a lot of video and photo work.
Maingear EX-L 15 comes with branded Onkyo speaker set and it includes a subwoofer too. The woofer is deeper and louder as compared to other 15 inch notebooks in the market. However, you won’t get the same thumping sound that you get on bigger speakers.
The manufacturer should be praised for giving plenty of connections and ports on this system. You get three video ports – HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI (but no VGA) and 4 optical out/in jacks overall. There are more connections in the form of eSATA and Mini FireWire. The overall package is pretty impressive in terms of connectivity.
Maingear EX-L 15 price starts at $1,499 and my review model had a price tag of $2,349. The price goes up if you opt for more expensive components. This is a gaming laptop and hence this laptop is bound to be more expensive than standard laptops.
The base model is priced at $1,499 and it has CPU and GPU upgrades. The base model has Core i5-2520M second generation processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 670 M chip. Both are good but the manufacturer should have opted for third generation Intel Core i-Series processor. There are a lot of options for hard disk and it includes standard HDD, SSD, and hybrid drives. My review model came with 750 GB HDD and 32GB SSD. The option for 600GB SSD is the most expensive one and it adds $1,288 to this laptop price.
For testing the performance, I played Street Fighter IV at full HD resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels. This laptop has Nvidia GeForce GT 675M chip inside which is a really good product from Nvidia. The game gave me 162.4 fps which is better than Asus G75VW yet behind Origin EON17-S. I then played Metro 2033 which at full resolution. Metro 2033 is a very challenging on the hardware and still it gave me 19.3 fps. Finally, I tried Diablo III at full res and set the graphics at max. The framerate was 100 fps.
The gaming prowess is great but all this power is wasted on the smaller screen. To enjoy the games at their best, I would recommend you to connect this laptop to a good 24 inches display.
It would be silly to look for big battery life from laptop which has high end graphics cards and quad core chip inside. That said, I expected better battery life as this is a 15 and not 17 inch notebook. In my battery tests, this laptop could stay alive for a little over two and half hours. However, the IdeaPadY480 gives you a little less than four hours of battery life.
Maingear EX-L 15 comes with one year warranty for parts and labor warranty is life time. You can opt for thirty day guarantee of no dead pixels but you will need to pay $85 more for that. The standard warranty can be extended to three years for $259 more.
Maingear EX-L 15 has a typical desktop replacement performance with latest components inside. The Clevo chassis is the only turn off but out dated bodies can’t be deal breakers.
- $1,499 starting price, $2,349 price of my review model
- 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-3820 QM chip
- 8 GB, 1,333 MHz DDR3 memory
- 750 GB hard drive running at 7,200rpm and 32 GB SSD
- Intel HM77 chipset
- Intel HD 4000/Nvidia GeForce GTX 675 M GPU
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) OS
- 14.8×10.1 inches (WD) dimensions
- 1.4 – 1.7 inches height
- 15.6 inches diagonal screen size
- 9.4 pounds weight with power adapter