Maingear EX-L 15 review: Maingear EX-L 15

My only complaint was that this kind of gaming power seems wasted on a smaller 15-inch display. To fully enjoy Diablo III, I connected the HDMI output to a 24-inch monitor, and added a keyboard and mouse.

Juice box
Maingear EX-L 15 Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.77
Sleep (10%) 1.66
Idle (25%) 26.97
Load (05%) 81.95
Raw kWh number 100.46
Annual power consumption cost $11.40

Annual power consumption cost

Looking for long battery life from a quad-core laptop with high-end graphics is a lost cause. That said, for a 15-inch model, rather than a 17-inch, there is a certain expectation that the system will be able to function away from an outlet for a reasonable amount of time. In this case, the Maingear EX-L 15 ran for 2 hours and 42 minutes in our video-playback battery drain test. That's better than the bigger Origin and Asus Ivy Bridge laptops, but Lenovo shows that you can have Ivy Bridge and decent battery life, as the IdeaPad Y480 ran for 3 hours and 51 minutes.

One of the reasons for choosing a boutique PC maker is the personalized service and support. The EX-L comes with a one-year parts-and-lifetime-labor warranty, and phone support runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT on Saturdays. A 30-day "no dead pixel" guarantee is an extra $85, but for a $2,000 laptop really should be included. A three-year extension of the warranty is a hefty $259; if you have to mail in your system, return shipping is only covered for the first 30 days.

The Maingear EX-L 15 offers no-compromise desktop-replacement performance, and the very latest parts, in a slightly more portable package. Generic Clevo bodies (and their not-quite-premium keyboards and touch pads) are a turnoff at these prices, but the option to configure nearly every component makes up for a lot.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Street Fighter IV (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Native resolution, 2X AA, V Sync off  

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Maingear EX-L 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus G75VW
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 12GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm (x2)

Origin EON17-S (Ivy Bridge - Intel Core i7-3920XM)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-3920XM; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M + 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; HDD #1: 1TB SAMSUNG 5400rpm + HDD #2/3: 240GB Corsair Force SSD (x2) RAID 0

Sony Vaio VPC-F236FM
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M + 64MB Intel HD 3000; 640GB Toshiba 7,200rpm

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Maingear EX-L 15

Part Number: CNET-Maingear-eX-L-15
MSRP: $2,349.00 Low Price: $1,499.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications

  • Installed Size 4 Byte
About The Author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.