Prior to ordering the Maingear Pulse 17 I tried to find an online review, but I could’t find anything. Despite the lack of firsthand user experiences I decided to take the plunge and I’m pleased to report that I was not disappointed.
The Pulse 17 is expensive- let’s get that right out there. But you get an extremely elegant (and thin) gaming laptop with enough power for even the most demanding games. 3D Mark’s Cloud Gate benchmark was 3057 on my old Vaio laptop and over 12,700 on the Pulse 17. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag runs great in full 1080p and visually surpasses the Playstation 4 version.
At this point I’ve owned the Pulse 17 for long enough that other reviews are popping up now and I don’t think I’ll take the time to write anything comprehensive. Instead I’ll just link to the review that best sums up my feelings: Endgadget Maingear Pulse 17 Review.
Engadget ended up giving the laptop and 84 and I’m pretty mostly on the same page. But I do have several issues I’d point out to a potential buyer:
• Once area where really disagree with their assessment concerns the trackpad. I found it difficult to use- for some reason the location of my finger is perpetually a mystery to the pad (even after adjusting the sensitivity settings). I don’t like the integrated buttons either.
• While I appreciate a cool running laptop the fans on the Pulse 17 are perpetually blowing and fairly loud. Additionally I’m right handed so the right-side vent blows hot air onto hand as I mouse around in games.
• The keyboard is really spongey- when you press the keys you can actually see other keys dip down with the one you pressed. Not a fan of the font they used for the keys either. Still, it’s a passable keyboard and I like that the number pad is included.
• Another caveat – unrelated to the laptop – is Windows 8. Looking at stability testing and gaming benchmarks I opted or the 8 platform but almost immediately regretted my decision. This may sound silly, but I didn’t fully grasp that Microsoft had opted to remove the start menu. Ah! Luckily keyboard shortcuts have proven sufficient to overcome this obstacle. But still… Ah! The Pulse 17 doesn’t have a touch screen so that might be something else to consider if you choose Windows 8.
One thing I did that I doubt any other reviewer will do is subject my Pulse 17 to a drop test. Okay… I admit it wasn’t intentional. I was coming back from a business trip and the person unloading the rental car accidentally dropped my computer. It was a in a neoprene case and fell onto concrete from about three feet. “Graceful” is not a word I would use to describe thee way this laptop falls. The impact caused significant structural damage (the corner of the case was bent, the frame holding the screen in popped out and the computer no longer sat flush on a table). Despite the drop after popping the screen back in the laptop seemed to be okay.
After visiting with Maingear and concluding that it would be “very expensive” to repair the cosmetic damage I oped to take the computer apart (all you have to to is remove all the screws on the bottom of the case and pop it off) and see if I could straighten things out. I was able to bend the casing mostly back into place and the computer sits nearly flat again. The only real issue left is some very minor dimpling on the far right of the screen where the impact occurred. Conclusion: For a laptop this big it’s surprisingly tough (also never let anyone else touch your computer…never ever).
Okay, enough with my sob story. The Maingear Pulse 17 certainly isn’t the world’s most powerful laptop (check out the offerings from Falcon Northwest) but it’s got to be one of the sexiest and most functional I’ve come across. I completely recommend the Pulse 17 as a replacement desktop and gaming computer.