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Maingear eX-L 15 Notebook Review: All Dressed Up and Ready to Game

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Maingear

Heat and Connectivity, Battery Life and Portability

 Heat and Connectivity

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Cooling is of obvious importance in a high-end gaming laptop. The Maingear eX-L15 is full of pores and vents designed to keep the quad-core processor and massive Nvidia GPU from overheating. 

At idle, Speedfan reported processor temperatures around 40 to 44 degrees Celsius and a GPU temperature that held steady at 38 degrees Celsius. Under stress testing, however, the processor temperature kicked up as high as 72 degrees Celsius, and the GPU recorded temperature topped out at a whopping 89 degrees Celsius. Neither of these will cause hardware damage, but they are higher than I’d prefer to see. 

The eX-L15’s high temperatures are probably the result of a cooling solution that’s not aggressive. In fact, it didn’t even kick into full blast until the GPU temperature was already at 89 degrees Celsius. The eX-L15 could likely run cooler if the fans were proactive, but the upside to the current tuning is a relatively peaceful gaming experience. 

Please note that “relatively” is the key word here – this laptop is much louder than your average bargain-priced multimedia laptop – but it is also noticeably quieter than the other gaming laptops we’ve recently reviewed, the ASUS G53 and the MSI GT680R. 

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There is no lack of room for connectivity on the eX-L15. On the left side of the laptop you’ll find one USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, FireWire, a card reader and Ethernet. The rear of the laptop holds DVI, HDMI and eSATA, while the right side boasts one additional USB 2.0 port and audio outputs including microphone, headphone, line-in and S/PDIF. Overall, this connectivity is just slightly better than average for a gaming laptop thanks to the combination of Firewire AND eSATA support. 

Battery Life and Portability

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Like most gaming laptops, the Maingear eX-L15 comes with a large battery, in this case an 8-cell lump that is labeled as offering 76.96Wh (no, not 77 – 76.96, exactly). This is located in the front of the laptop’s chassis, as was the battery in the MSI GT680R, which is atypical for a laptop but does provide better weight distribution. 

Given the hardware in the eX-L15, it’s no surprise that the chassis is beefy, measuring almost 1.7 inches at its thickest point.  It’s thick enough that I could not fit it into the laptop sleeve of my messenger bag, and it’s large enough that even my backpack barely zips shut with the eX-L15 shoved inside. Clearly, this is not a laptop built with portability in mind.

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This is further reflected in the battery life results. The eX-L15 lasted just shy of three hours in the Battery Eater Reader’s Test, and only a hair over two hours in real-world usage. Although these results are not horrendous for a high-end gaming laptop, they’re substantially less impressive than what was offered by the MSI GT680R, which managed to survive just over four hours in the Reader’s Test. Although the faster hardware does battery life no favors, the main culprit is probably the battery, which is much smaller than the 9-Cell 87Wh unit in the MSI. 

 

May 26, 2011 | 05:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Don't put it in the cedar, you will scratch it! Amazing laptops like this deserve the best of care! :)

July 5, 2011 | 04:58 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Don't worry, I put down a cloth when I take these photos on rough surfaces. You just can't see it.

May 27, 2011 | 08:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you need an kick-ass, jaw-dropping mobile gaming powerhouse and you can afford a lappy from Maingear, then take your money and get an Origin laptop.

Simples.

June 2, 2011 | 09:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I smell envy.

June 6, 2011 | 11:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why? Maingear has a proven track record, wins awards, and has great customer service according to Reseller Ratings and the BBB. Are you a jealous competitor?

July 5, 2011 | 05:11 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

The Origin EON15-S actually uses the same chassis as the Maingear eX-L 15.

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June 1, 2011 | 10:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

laptop gaming sucks! While intriguing it's not where it needs to be, (Graphics look off, battery life, esthetics, smallish screen) especially with those glossy screens, yuck.

June 14, 2011 | 03:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

then why u even bother coming here ?? yuck !!

May 7, 2012 | 05:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sorry for being late for the party, but I'd like to add a comment. Anyways...

This laptop looks really amazing. My father bought this model, and he loves it, so I decided to do the same. I've ordered it a little while ago and it should arrive in a few days. I got the same model, but the SuperStock version, which adds a back-lit keyboard, support for Extreme Edition Intel chips, and the GeForce GTX 675M instead of the current 670M. The laptop I'm getting has the following specs:
- 4-core (8-thread) Intel Core i7-2670QM w/ 6MB L3 cache and clocked @ 2.4GHz (up to 3.5 Turbo)
- 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 RAM @ 1660MHz, 1.5V
- GeForce GTX 675M GPU with 2.0GB GDDR5 VRAM
- 750GB Seagate Momentus XT 7200 RPM hybrid SSD (32GB SSD for faster access of commonly used files) hard drive
- 6x Blu-Ray reader/burner and 8x Super Multi Combo drive
- Bigfoot Networks Killer Wireless-N Ultimate Wireless Network Accelerator
- 3 year hardware warranty and lifetime Angelic Services Labor and Phone Support

I also got some free stuff included as well, including three games (Batman Arkham City, Battlefield 3, and Just Cause 2), a "Premium Portable Laptop Stand", and a shirt. The custom builder also decided to add in a Blu-Ray burner for FREE because this is the third computer my family bought from this company (it's not a policy of theirs to give free disk burners after buying a certain amount of laptops, the builder just decided to do it to be kind).

The version I'm getting is even more powerful than the one tested in this review, so I can't imagine how powerful it is going to be! I'm psyched!

Amazing review by-the-way. It's probably the most helpful one I've found.

January 10, 2013 | 01:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Maingear EX-L 15 is different from other Ivy Bridge laptops. Features provide are 1080p full HD screen, Keyboard have island styled buttons, backlighting on the keyboard, woofer is deeper and louder, Core i5-2520M second generation processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 670 M chip.http://www.techiecop.com/laptops/maingear/maingear-ex-l-15.html

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