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Maingear's Pulse too little, too late

Maingear's power-efficient Pulse gaming PC can't keep up with the competition.

We finally posted our review of Maingear's power-efficient Pulse gaming PC and we're sad to say that it didn't deliver the system we hoped for. We do give Maingear credit for trying to build on the greenified gaming idea started by HP's Firebird, but efficient components apparently haven't kept pace with the general trend of falling hardware prices. That means the Pulse sacrifices too much performance compared with a standard mainstream gaming PC in the same price range.

Maingear's small form factor Pulse gaming PC CNET/Sarah Tew

Our power testing found that the Pulse is indeed energy efficient. It actually consumed less power than HP's Firebird, and offers faster performance both in games and in standard applications. When the $2,100 Firebird 803 came out in February, however, its performance kept pace with standard desktops, outgunning both a $1,500 Dell, and even on some tests Acer's $2,000 or so Predator.

Unfortunately for the $1,300 Pulse, Asus introduced a highly competitive $1,200 gaming tower, and the little Maingear system just can't keep up. You can perhaps ask regular consumers to sacrifice performance for power savings, but good luck making that suggestion to a PC gamer.

We don't think all is lost for the Pulse. Its default $799 configuration, for example, looks awfully promising as a small home media box (a Blu-ray drive at this price would be nice, though). And our hope is that as AMD, Intel, and Nvidia keep revving their various components, we'll see power efficiency gains with less of a performance hit. As that gap narrows, the Pulse and systems like it will have a stronger argument.

Read our review of the Maingear Pulse.