The Good The latest version of the Maingear Pulse 14 adds a newer graphics card and higher-res screen than last year's model. It includes plenty of ports and is portable enough to go on the road occasionally.
The Bad Other, more expensive, gaming laptops beat this one in terms of design. The keyboard, touchpad, and body are generic, and the screen lacks touch input.
The Bottom Line You could spend an additional $1,000 and get a superslim 14-inch gaming laptop that would be the envy of your friends, but the Maingear Pulse 14 is just portable enough and has decent specs for the price.
A better screen and new GPU for the midsize Maingear Pulse 14
Midsize gaming laptops are in the midst of something of a renaissance, with the very impressive 14-inch Razer Blade leading the charge, combining a slim, high-powered laptop with a better-than-HD touchscreen display. But that model is also very expensive, hitting $2,000 or more.
The last 14-inch Maingear gaming laptop we looked at (back in 2013) had some good things going for it, but was also kneecapped by a lower-resolution display. If Razer can hit 3,200x1,800, anyone spending more than $1,000 on a gaming laptop should expect at least the standard 1,920x1,080.
Fortunately, the new 2014 version of the Maingear Pulse 14 makes the leap to a full 1080p screen, while also adding an updated Nvidia GPU but keeping the price reasonable. This is a fairly customizable 14-inch gaming laptop that starts at $1,199. Our review sample includes an Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M GPU, and a 500GB HDD for a total of $1,399.