Maingear Pulse 17 (2015)

Incredibly Thin and Powerful 17-inch Gaming Laptop

Maingear Pulse 17 (2015) 17-inch Gaming Laptop
Maingear Pulse 17 (2015). ©Maingear

The Bottom Line

Jan 21 2015 - The Maingear Pulse 17 is an extremely impressive 17-inch gaming laptop. It is thin and light making it seem not that much bigger than many 15-inch gaming laptops but it offers performance on par with many full-size gaming laptops. This is thanks to a pair of SSD drives and the latest NVIDIA GTX 970M graphics. The biggest problem is the price. This is not a system many people can afford and there are suitable systems that are much more affordable. Its small size also lends to it being hotter and louder than average when it is running at full speed.

Pros

  • Extremely Thin and Light
  • Dual SSD Drives
  • Excellent Gaming Performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Runs a Bit Hot and Loud at Full Performance

Description

  • Intel Core i7-4710HQ Quad Core Mobile Processor
  • 16GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • Two 128GB Solid State Drives and 1 TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • External USB Dual Layer DVD Burner
  • 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 1080p Webcam
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M Graphics with 3GB GDDR5 Memory
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Four USB 3.0, One HDMI, Two mini-DisplayPort, SD Card Reader
  • 16.5" x 11.3" x .85" @ 6 lbs.
  • Windows 8.1

Review - Maingear Pulse 17 (2015)

Jan 21 2015 - Maingear has been known for putting together some very solid computers. The latest Pulse 17 gaming laptop is based upon the MSI GS70 2QE white box notebook that MSI sells under their GS70 Stealth Pro name. Of course, Maingear customizes the system to exactly how the consumer wants it. This includes the option of paying $199 for a selection of colors or $299 to have a custom color applied to the exterior lid and base of the system. The interior still remains the matte black just like the base black anodized aluminum exterior if you opt for no color. The system is incredibly thin at just .85-inches thick and very light at just over six pounds. This rivals even the size of the Razer New Blade Pro.

Base performance for the Maingear Pulse is supplied by the Intel Core i7-4710HQ quad core mobile processors. This is not the fastest of the quad core processors from Intel but that is because this has a lower thermal output which is required for the thin chassis. Even though this is not the fastest CPU, it still provides more than enough performance for those looking at PC gaming and a very fast experience for those doing demanding computing like desktop video editing. The processor is matched up with 16GB of DDR3 memory for a smooth overall experience with Windows even with heavy multitasking.

Storage is pretty unique for the Maingear Pulse 17. It relies primarily upon solid state drives for storage. Unlike many others though, it uses a pair of 128GB in a RAID 0 configuration to provide 256GB of storage space on the primary partition and increased performance over a traditional single SSD. This was likely done because the chassis uses the older mSATA interface rather than the new M.2 so it still trails somewhat in overall bandwidth to properly equipped laptops using the M.2. To supplement this storage, there is also a one terabyte hard drive for those that need space for lots of media files. It is a slower 5400rpm drive, but most users probably won't notice. If you need additional storage space, there are four USB 3.0 ports on the system for use with high speed external hard drives. With the small size, there is no internal optical drive which is common to many of the other systems. Maingear does provide an external USB burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.

The 17.3-inch display for the Maingear Pulse 17 features an industry standard 1920x1080 native resolution typical of this size laptop. Overall, the picture is very good thanks to the above average brightness levels and wide viewing angles. About the only little ding against it is that the color is not as wide as some other laptops on the market that are using IPS panels. It is still good, just not as great as some others. As this is designed for gaming, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M graphics take center stage here. This new graphics processor provides it with excellent frame rates and quality levels at the full panel resolution. In fact, in some ways, this is better than the previous GTX 880M but requiring less power. The laptop even features two mini-DisplayPort connectors so that two external monitors can be hooked up for multiple monitor gaming. The graphics can handle two displays alright with decent frame rates but some detail levels might have to be turned down but the 3GB of graphics really hold it back from running three displays at once.

The keyboard for the Pulse 17 is a nice larger size with a full numeric keyboard layout and there is still space on either side of the keyboard. The keys offer a nice amount of travel for such a thin overall laptop but the feel is a bit soft compared to some. Comfort and accuracy were both quite good. The keyboard is full backlit and uses a color-changing LED system that can be customized through software to be a variety of different colors or even pulse between them. The trackpad on the system is a very large one that was very accurate in terms of single and multitouch gestures. The only downside is that it uses a click pad integrated button which has a bit less accuracy than dedicated buttons. Of course, most gamers won't care as they use an external mouse.

With the smaller size of the Pulse 17 chassis, the battery of course also needs to be smaller. The six cell battery pack features a 60WHr capacity rating which is lower than many full-size gaming laptops but typical of smaller 15-inch laptops. In digital video playback testing, the system was able to go for three and three-quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is impressive give the size of the battery and the overall performance of the system. Of course, gaming on the battery would easily have this running time. It still does not have a super long running time like the Dell Inspiron 17 7000 Touch that can run for almost twice as long but it does so on less powerful components and a larger battery.

Pricing for the Maingear Pulse 17 is quite high with it starting at $2299 without customizations. This is a good deal more expensive than a similarly equipped MSI GS70 Pro-003 laptop. It is certainly more affordable though than the Razer New Blade Pro. Of course, the Razer offers its unique LED touchpad display instead of a numeric keypad but with a much slower GTX 860M graphics. If you are looking for something more affordable, there is the Acer Aspire V17 Nitro Black that is almost half the cost and features an amazing IPS display panel but one again has less performance from a GTX 860M graphics. For similar graphics performance though, there is the iBUYPOWER Battalion 101 P670SE that is thicker and heavier but still features the GTX 970M. It doesn't have the same level of build quality and has lower running times though.