Maingear 13.3" Clutch 13 Ultraportable Notebook

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion


Performance Summary: In our SiSoftware Sandra tests, the Maingear Clutch 13 performed well. This ultraportable has a 1.2GHz Core i3-330UM processor, a full 8GB of DDR3-1066 RAM and a blazing fast Crucial 128GB C300 SSD. Top notch components like these will undoubtedly help it when it comes to benchmarks, but when it comes to gaming, it's another story. The integrated Intel HD graphics are weak in comparison to Optimus-enabled rivals, and unfortunately, the battery life isn't really boosted in exchange for lower GPU performance. It's powerful enough to play back 1080p multi-media without issue, but that's about it; even older gaming titles showed signs of lag at times. 



You know you're looking at something special when you take the Clutch 13 from its box. It has a unique textured lid, an understated interior, a great/smooth trackpad and a sleek, slender design. On the exterior, there's a lot to appreciate. It also has a very spacious, enjoyable keyboard, built-in Bluetooth, eSATA / HDMI ports and a great overall look. But at nearly $1100 for a base unit, we'd expect nothing less.

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We were intrigued at first by this unique configuration. It has a powerful CPU (1.2GHz Core i3-330UM), a whopping 8GB of DDR3 memory and a speedy 128GB Crucial C300 SSD, but with integrated Intel HD graphics. We liked the idea at first, assuming this would cost less than rival units with a discrete GPU, and also lengthen battery life. We found that this wasn't exactly the case, however. It handles everything except hardcore gaming with ease, but there's a value problem in our eyes; our $1500 test unit would have been a much better deal if it were Optimus enabled and thus offered better graphics performance.



We will point out that we appreciated that Maingear left the interior mostly clean; just a single Core i3 sticker was on the palm rest. Also, there was no "bloatware" to speak of. That's a real change of pace, as we didn't have to spend any time right off the bat deleting nagging programs. There's an Accelerometer inside that requires a one-time calibration upon opening, but this is used to ensure your data remains safe in case of a drop, so it's a worthwhile setup. The LCD's viewing angles and colors are great, but the limited recline of the LCD hinge really hinders usage on high surface like a countertop or in a cramped seat.



Overall, the Clutch 13 is a solid choice at $1091 for the base model, but at nearly $1500 like our review unit, it's a much harder sell. While it was definitely quick in multi-tasking and most tasks we threw at it, we expected a better GPU setup and a higher-resolution screen for that price. Also, there's just two USB ports, and both are the older USB 2.0 variety. $1500 doesn't even get you an optical drive, and while this bundle does include a docking station, that will have a very limited reach in our estimation. If you place a high value on the docking station, this is a somewhat better deal. If you place a high value on gaming, you'll need to look for a machine with a discrete GPU. But we will say that the performance (outside of gaming) was outstanding, and the machine remained nice and cool throughout our testing.

 

 

     
  • Powerful Core i3 CPU
  • Unique, refreshing design
  • Stays cool
  • Easily customizable
  • No bloatware to delete

  • Glossy LCD, needs more recline
  • Weak graphics performance
  • No USB 3.0, only two ports
  • Pricey
  • Lackluster battery life


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