Maingear 13.3" Clutch 13 Ultraportable Notebook

User Experience

We enjoyed using hte Maingear Clutch 13. But remember, this is a $1500 machine -- if it weren't enjoyable at the very least, there would be a serious problem. With a Core i3 processor, 8GB of DDR3 memory and a lightning fast 128GB Crucial SSD, this unit was primed for success. We can definitely say that this felt like one of the snappier ultraportables we have used, on-par with the 13" MacBook Air and even faster when multitasking.

The keyboard is solid, and typing is both smooth and enjoyable. Despite the fact that this is an ultraportable, typing was not a cramped experience. Also, the trackpad was one of the better ones we have used. There's no texture on the pad itself, and we prefer the smooth layout. Also, there's just a single, solid trackpad button. Some of Asus' machines have something akin to this, but they use a slick silver bar that has less grip. This particular button has a nice amount of travel and wasn't uncomfortable to use. All in all, it's a great layout.

The only major complaint with the trackpad is how limited the gesture support is. It doesn't support a full range of multi-touch gestures; if you rub your finger along the right edge, you can scroll up or down a webpage, but two-finger scrolling, pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-navigate are all missing. That's a real shame; for $1500 we simply expected a more intelligent trackpad.

We can't help but point out just how cool the machine stays, even under heavy workloads. It's one of the cooler ultraportables we have used, and while there are plenty of heat exhaust vents (and thus, noise when you're gaming or watching 1080p media), we'd rather have the vents than deal with the heat. We wish more notebooks were able to stay this cool under pressure, so kudos to Maingear for figuring that out here.

Speaking of noise, it's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it was annoying at times. On the other hand, the machine's fans stay quiet most of the time. We say "most of the time" because the fans definitely kick up when playing a game; that's expected though, and usually it's drowned out by the surprisingly crisp, loud and clear speakers.

Wireless (802.11g/n) reception was fantastic, and there's both Bluetooth 2.1 and a 1.3MP webcam, which aren't always found on ultraportables. Navigating around the desktop was always a breeze, and loading up applications was snappy. Even multi-tasking was smooth as silk, and we never really felt bogged down while using the machine (graphically intense operations notwithstanding). We'll touch more on the graphical limitations as we get to our GPU benchmarks, but in general, the machine was quick enough to handle everything except for gaming and high-bitrate HD media with exceptional ease. Core i3 + 8GB of RAM + an SSD = speedy!

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