Maingear eX-L 15 Gaming Notebook Review - HotHardware

Maingear eX-L 15 Gaming Notebook Review

7 thumbs up
Many enthusiasts generally prefer to roll their own rigs, but when it comes to notebooks, the notion of building a system from scratch becomes less practical and appealing. Things tend to get expensive, your build options aren't as robust as they are with desktops, and working in tight quarters will test your patience. That's where system builders come in, and you have three primary types to choose from: large OEMs like Dell and HP, smaller integrators and resellers that specialize in bang-for-buck setups, and custom gaming boutiques like Maingear, that prefer to push the pedal to the metal in order to differentiate.

We recently had a chance to meet with Maingear in person and tour the company's build facility (video below), and one thing was immediately apparent: these guys are enthusiasts just like us. So, when Maingear offered to send us what they claim is the fastest 15-inch notebook on the planet, we rounded up our gauntlet of benchmarks and told them to "bring it on."
Maingear sent us their revamped eX-L 15. This particular model was actually reintroduced back in late January of this year, but like every other OEM, was caught off guard by a early flaw in Intel's 6-series chipset. Now sporting a revised board with errata-free silicon, the upgraded eX-L 15 arrived at our doorstep equipped with an Intel Sandy Bridge processor and the fastest mobile graphics chip Nvidia currently offers, the GeForce GTX 485M. Let's see if MainGear can make good their claims of the fastest 15-inch notebook we've ever tested.
Maingear eX-L 15
Specifications & Features

eX-L 15


15.6" (1920x1080)


Intel Core i7 2720QM (2.2GHz)


8GB DDR3-1333


Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M w/ 2GB GDDR5


500GB Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive


8X DVD Burner

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium x64


Intel 802.11 B/G/N


2.0 Megapixel

Wired Internet

10/100/1000 Ethernet


2xUSB 3.0, 2xUSB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, HDMI, DVI-I, Media Card Reader


8.49 lbs with battery


41.5 x 32.0 x 1.89 cm (WxDxH)


1 Year



HotHardware's Maingear Factory Tour with CEO Wallace Santos

One glance at the spec sheet reveals that this isn't your roommate's Walmart special, not unless they fancy themselves a fragger more interested in DirectX 11 gaming, rather than looking up recipes and firing off emails. We already mentioned the eX-L 15's CPU and GPU foundation, but on top of that, this portable replacement for your gaming desktop features a generous 8GB of fast DDR3-1333 memory, a hybrid hard drive with 32MB of cache and 4GB of solid state SLC NAND flash storage for faster access times and all the connectivity options you could hope for.

On the following pages, we'll review this system as it came configured, though note that you can customize the eX-L 15 based on your own budget and performance requirements.

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Great review Paul, this machine is awesome. I love the attention to detail maingear has, their "white glove" treatment is really great. There zero bloatware policy is great and the battery life was way better than I expected! Usually the fastest laptops drain the juice like nobody's business. I don't know though, I'd rather have the price lowered a little bit and they can keep the screwdriver and t-shirt kit.

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Nice!! This reviews shows that you don't need a desktop class processor and that Bulky 17' Clevo chassis anymore.. unless you want to go SLI with the 485M. The 480M required it(the Clevo Chassis), now thanks  to updates to the  architecture of the graphics card, its able  perform faster and be smaller so that it can fit into a 15 inch frame. ...Also Intels Mobile Chips gets major props too..

Maingear is everywhere, I hope they become as big as Dell or HP one day.

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Pretty machine. Good review the only thing I feel like it is missing is USB 3.0 Ports versus USB 2.0 ports. Maingear certainly does it again.

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@omegadraco, ithe ex-L 15 comes with a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the left side.

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Thanks, I could have sworn that I read that review pretty carefully and only saw USB 2.0 on it :) I obviously skimmed it too quickly. USB 3.0  certainly makes it even better. Love the no bloatware policy.

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Aww, this reminds me... lol why didn't you guys get some shots of them putting a laptop together! :D

WOW the design looks dam neat! And DAM nice scores!!!

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Thanks for the great review of this screamer from Maingear.It has some awesome specs and performance and I like they way it looks. But for me to justify the higher price its relatively simple it's not the included T-shirt [nice] or mini-screwdriver.It's the attention to all the details & pride of workman-ship done by one of the techs [local Jersey guy] that built.tested,'burn n benched it' signed,sealed & delivered it in the included binder with the original Windows disc,driver cd along with no bloat-cr^p!

Besides there is always the custom config page on the website.

you get what you pay for and it's worth it.

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Man, after reading this review, I am convinced that Maingear makes the best machines ever.

Pure processing power, USB 3.0, no bloatware? Who needs ExpressPort when you got this much power?

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Nice! Once again, Maingear outs an awesome notebook!

No bloatware is FABULOUS!

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I was looking at the customization options of this laptop and a cool thing main gear offers is engraving options for free or your own for 99$.

I would love to get one of these for college, but i'll probably become panicky if some one tries to touch it.

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