Maingear Pulse 15 3K Gaming Laptop Review

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3DMark and Far Cry 2

If you're a gamer, this is where the results really start to matter. We put the Pulse 15 through several gaming benchmarks and compared it against a bunch of different systems (not all benchmarks use the same comparison systems -- newer benchmarks like 3DMark Cloud Gate weren't available when we evaluated previous generation laptops). Here's how things shook out.

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Simulated Gaming Performance

As a synthetic gaming benchmark, 3DMark 11 puts extra emphasis on your system’s handling of DirectX 11. However, 3DMark 11 measures more than just the graphics card’s performance; the processor has a definite influence on the score. As a result, this benchmark is a good way to get a feel for how well the system can handle gaming and general computing tasks.

Maingear Pulse 15 3DMark 11

The Pulse 15 comes out the gate strong by pummeling previous generation gaming laptops, including a few that had the benefit of running dual graphics cards in SLI (NVIDIA) or CrossFire (AMD). Not only is this an impressive showing for Maingear's thin and light gaming laptop, but it also underscores how quickly technology changes (for the better). In addition, it gives you something to think about when pondering a laptop with dual graphics -- it won't always be the case that a newer GPU trumps two older ones. However, as we see here, it can (and does) happen at times, usually about two generations down the line.

Futuremark 3DMark Cloud Gate
Simulated Gaming Performance

3DMark is the flagship benchmark in Futuremark’s catalog. As a result, it is a popular choice for testing all types of computers. Recognizing the technology differences between different types of PCs are significant, 3DMark has a separate test suite for each device category. The Cloud Gate test is aimed at entry-level PCs and laptops. It has two subtests: a processor-intensive physics test and two graphics tests. Cloud Gate uses a DirectX 11 engine but the graphics are designed to be compatible with DirectX 10 systems. We ran the test suite at its default 1280 x 720 resolution and at default rendering quality settings. It’s important to remember that 3DMark Cloud Gate scores aren’t comparable to scores from other categories such as 3DMark Fire Strike (gaming PCs) or Ice Storm (smartphones and tablets).

Maingear Pulse 15 3DMark Cloud Gate

Once again, the Pulse 15 struts around like it owns the place, though to be fair, sitting at the top of the heap is partially a benefit of this being a newer benchmark that wasn't around when we reviewed older gaming laptops. That's not Maingear's fault, and even with being the case, watching the Pulse 15 pulverize the respectably equipped Dell XPS 15 Touch Screen by more than 6,000 points is a pleasant surprise.

Far Cry 2
DX10 Gaming Performance

Far Cry 2 uses high-quality texture, complex shaders, and dynamic lighting to create a realistic environment. Using the game’s built-in benchmark, we can get a better look at a system’s performance with DirectX 10 level gaming graphics.

Maingear Pulse 15 Far Cry 2

With our synthetic benchmark runs out of the way, we come to our first in-game benchmark, Far Cry 2. We're well aware that Far Cry 2 isn't the cutting edge title that it once was, but it's still great for comparing systems since we have a large database of benchmark numbers from the game. And at this point, it's become a bit of an initiation for reviewed systems, a HotHardware right of passage, if you will.

Okay, enough of that -- how did the Pulse 15 do? Very well. As you can see, it ran with the big dogs at the front of the pack. However, it trailed the Alienware M17x by a few frames per second even though the Pulse 15 has a newer CPU and GPU. There's an explanation for this.

Both the GeForce GTX 680M and 870M sport 1,344 CUDA cores and are based on NVIDIA's Kepler architecture. The 870M has the advantage of a few more optimizations and faster clockspeeds, but it has a 192-bit memory interface compared to the wider 256-bit lane on the GTX 680M.

Another factor that probably played a role in the Pulse 15 running slightly slower is heat. This sucker runs hot (we'll talk more about this later), and just as we saw MSI's GT60 Dominator Pro throttle clockspeeds to keep thermals in check, we suspect the Pulse 15 did the same thing.

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