Maingear Pulse 17

Discussion in 'Other Manufacturers' started by schraderade, Sep 22, 2014.

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  1. schraderade

    schraderade Notebook Enthusiast

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    So, I'll kick off an inaugural topic for the Maingear forum.
    I've been a fan of this company for a while, since I use their commitment to quality and no bloatware.

    I recently ordered a Pulse 17 notebook to replace a Razer Blade Pro (I've owned the original and also the 2013 model). I think the Razer looks better, but I found their switchblade drivers very unreliable/memory hogging, and I really like the storage options on the Pulse 17 (512G SSD plus 1TB FDD) which is really helpful for my work in multimedia.

    Anyone own this machine and have any thoughts on it?
     
  2. schraderade

    schraderade Notebook Enthusiast

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    OK so it looks like the community of owners might be really small based on the lack of response here.

    I received the Pulse 17 laptop this week and had the following observations, comparing it to the Razer Blade Pro (17.3"):

    Form factor
    • The Pulse 17 chassis is actually larger than the RBP. It's about the same width and thickness, but about 1/4 inch taller. That's a shame because the screen is actually smaller (17" vs 17.3" in the RBP). As a result, the screen bezel is larger than it needs to be.
    • The Pulse 17 is lighter than the RBP. I didn't really consider the weight difference since nobody who buys laptops of this size cares THAT much about weight, but I've found the P17 easier to handle since I move the laptop around quite a bit during the day.
    • Overall, P17 finish seems a step down from the RBP. The logo on the back of the cover is glued on rather clumsily compared to the RBP's machine-milled logo. There is a lot more plastic than aluminum in the P17 (although this makes it lighter, which is a tradeoff I'm willing to live with).
    • Interestingly, despite the greater use of plastic, the P17 chassis is quite rigid. There is very little flex in the keyboard tray, and the screen is about as rigid as the RBP.
    • The P17 power supply is HUGE. About double the size of the RBP's. Same weight though, because it's plastic. And it appears to run cooler than the RBP's which is nice. Aside from the hugeness, the one glaring design fault is the lack of a power LED, so you can't be sure it's powered on without looking at the laptop.


    I/O
    • The display is just a touch brighter than the RBP. It's smaller, as noted above. The viewing angles on these 17" panels is never great, but it appears slightly better on the P17 than on the RBP.....the RBP had really bad color changes with vertical viewing angle, which makes it really tough for graphics/design work.
    • The P17 keyboard is MUCH better than the RBP. The keys are more raised (ie they have more travel), which renders the keyboard much more tactile. The layout is also much better. There are full-sized arrow keys, which is really helpful for work (excel, coding, etc) and for gaming. The full sized number pad is also great. Laptop manufacturers never quite seem to get the keyboard exactly right, so a couple (livable) shortcomings are: (1) the Windows key is on the lower right side instead of the traditional lower left; (2) the delete key is awkardly placed over the number pad instead of next to backspace (where it normally is)...I will probably remap this with Autohotkey. The RBP keyboard had some really big problems like the half-height arrow keys and the lack of home/end/insert/pageup/pagedown keys which rendered it almost unusable for real work.
    • No Razer switchblade. Big plus. The Razer switchblade is a giant gimmick which promised a lot of cool custom keys and functionality but in reality is a poorly executed memory hog that is a crappy trackpad and an unstable set of custom keys. Maingear (or MSI's) election to put a standard number pad in its place is the conventional and smarter approach.
    • Trackpad is not very good. In a VERY poor move, Maingear decided to go with the Elantech trackpad instead of a Synaptics pad. So, there are some glitches with palm detection, cursor jumping every now and then, etc. Also, no "momentum" which is a really nice feature in the Synaptics devices. I find it almost unconscionable that MSI/Maingear opted for the cheapo trackpad in a $3K laptop.....this is to me the worst design choice in the entire machine.
    • Sound is pretty good. Volume (which is pretty much all I look for) is slightly higher than RBP.

    PERFORMANCE
    • I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here because there are plenty of benchmarking studies out there. I REALLY like the storage options on the P17. The combination of 512G SSD plus the 1TB FDD on the P17 gives you a ton of storage which is really helpful if you are working with virtual machines, media files, or multiple large games. I travel quite a bit so it's nice to be able to download full movies on itunes and not have to stick them on an external drive.
    • So far the machine has run cooler than the RBP. The fan is louder though, which may bother some.


    Overall, I bought this machine because the storage options on the RBP and the unworkable switchblade made it inconvenient for me to do work on that machine.
    With the P17 I get much better storage, a slightly better (though smaller) screen, a lighter chassis, and a full number pad which is way better than the switchblade interface on the RBP.
    The added bonus of a better keyboard was something I wasn't expecing but has been really nice to experience.
    The P17 trackpad is pretty lousy, but I guess it's still better than the RBP's unworkable switchblade.
    Overall I would say the two machines are pretty comparable with all the pushes and takes, but for my use (95% work), the Maingear machine wins by a decent margin.
     
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