CNET First Look
A portable gaming PC that deserves a better screenThe Maingear Pulse 14 gaming laptop is easy on the wallet, hard on the eyes.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the Maingear Pulse 14. This is another one of a reasonably long line of midsize gaming laptops that we've seen this year. We've seen examples from Alienware, Origin, and Razer. Maingear is another boutique PC maker and it's really cool ever seeing people making gaming laptops with 13- and 14-inch screens rather than just the big 17- or 18-inch monitors that we're used to. Of course, there are some trade-offs involved. If you get a system from a boutique PC maker like Maingear or Origin, these guys can't make their own custom bodies from scratch the way Alienware, which is owned by Dell, does. They basically use an off-the-shelf body which is what you see here and they customize it. In this case, they do an actually very nice color back of the lid. This is done in automotive painting. You're getting different colors. It's got some really great kind of automotive sparkly detail to it. Otherwise, it looks like a fairly standard chunky 14-inch laptop and the keyboard and touchpad are really not designed for gaming. I'm hoping that you're going to hook up an external mouse and maybe plug the whole thing into a monitor and use your own keyboard with it as well. Now, this guy, configuration-wise, is just around $2000, but you can get it down to about $1250. And for that $1250, you still get the same Core i7 CPU and Nvidia 760M Graphics card that we have in a more expensive version which is great. The big letdown here, however, is the screen. It is a 1600x900 screen. It's not a full 1920x1080 screen which most of the other midsize gaming laptops and all of the larger gaming laptops have. You really do wanna be able to play in full HD. In order to do that here, you have to do, what I did a lot of time which is take an HDMI output to a larger monitor and then you hook up a mouse and a keyboard and you're basically just using the hardware here. If this system had a better display, it loses a lot of detail with off-axis viewing, although I like that it's kind of a matte display, not over the glossy. If you can't get past that display, you can certainly save a couple bucks over some of these other systems and still get those high-end components, but that's if you're gonna plug it into a monitor all the time. As a standalone gaming laptop, I'd say the 1600x900 display really turned me off. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Maingear Pulse 14.