Maingear eX-L 15 Gaming Notebook Review

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Maingear advertises the eX-L 15 as "the world's most powerful 15.6-inch gaming notebook," and if you're going to talk to the talk, you better be able to walk the walk. Well folks, the eX-L 15 walked the walk, it ran the race, and it sped through our gauntlet of benchmarks like a sports car running from the cops.

The eX-L 15 didn't lose a single performance benchmark when pitted against recently reviewed systems, even those built around the same Sandy Bridge platform. Equipped with a Intel Core i7 2720QM processor and Nvidia GeForce 485M, the eX-L 15 lived up to Maingear's lofty claim, at least within the stable of the system's we've recently reviewed.  Though the claim of world's most powerful 15-inch notebook is probably a bit overzealous, we'd definitely venture that the eX-L 15 is one of the fastest you can find on the market currently.

We test systems as they're sent to us, and sometimes that can work against OEMs and boutique system builders if they don't choose the right combination of parts. That wasn't the case here. Maingear did a heck of a job assembling the eX-L 15, and there's plenty of credit to go around. Maingear deserves kudos, not only for building a screamer, but for the white glove treatment that comes with it. First impressions are everything, and when you unpack your new system to find a hard-case binder with system vitals, a T-shirt, mult-tip screwdriver, original Windows disc, and other items not often included with OEM systems, you can't help but feel like more than a number. Fire it up and you'll be greeted to a desktop without any bloatware, just as if you'd built it yourself. Driving the point home that Maingear might actually care about catering to the customer, the eX-L 15 is backed by lifetime phone support and a 30-day zero dead pixel policy, ensuring you don't get stuck with a dud.

Of course, while Maingear did a heck of a job with the eX-L 15, credit also goes to Intel for its Sandy Bridge platform, and to Nvidia for its crazy fast GeForce 485M GPU. It's a potent combination that helped the eX-L 15 post the highest benchmark scores of any recent notebook we've tested. Also somewhat impressive, however, is the notebook's battery life. Systems typically struggle in our brutal battery benchmark, but the eX-L 15, despite being a high-powered gaming notebook, lasted about 35-40 minutes longer than we expected.

We're also pleased with all the connectivity options of the eX-L 15. Minus a DisplayPort, just about every port you can think of is included here, even a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. But you'll also find eSATA, HDMI, FireWire, DVI-I, and a few more. So what's not to like about the eX-L 15? The obvious one is price. At nearly $2,500 (as equipped), you're paying a premium for a 15-inch laptop, albeit one aimed at gamers. The lack of a backlight and ExpressCard slot are noticeable omissions too.

Few complaints aside, Maingear's eX-L 15 lives up to the hype. This is a 15-inch gaming notebook to be reckoned with. It's not cheap, but then again, high-end products never are.  At least with the eX-L 15, you get what you pay for.


  • Blistering fast general and gaming performance
  • Rubberized coating feels sturdy and doesn't attract fingerprints
  • Ports-a-plenty, including two USB 3.0 ports
  • Respectable battery life for this class of machine
  • Zero bloatware and 30-day zero dead pixel policy
  • No ExpressCard slot
  • Pricey

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