Heat and Connectivity, Battery Life and Portability
Heat and Connectivity
Cooling is of obvious importance in a high-end gaming laptop. The Maingear eX-L15 is full of pores and vents designed to keep the quad-core processor and massive Nvidia GPU from overheating.
At idle, Speedfan reported processor temperatures around 40 to 44 degrees Celsius and a GPU temperature that held steady at 38 degrees Celsius. Under stress testing, however, the processor temperature kicked up as high as 72 degrees Celsius, and the GPU recorded temperature topped out at a whopping 89 degrees Celsius. Neither of these will cause hardware damage, but they are higher than I’d prefer to see.
The eX-L15’s high temperatures are probably the result of a cooling solution that’s not aggressive. In fact, it didn’t even kick into full blast until the GPU temperature was already at 89 degrees Celsius. The eX-L15 could likely run cooler if the fans were proactive, but the upside to the current tuning is a relatively peaceful gaming experience.
Please note that “relatively” is the key word here – this laptop is much louder than your average bargain-priced multimedia laptop – but it is also noticeably quieter than the other gaming laptops we’ve recently reviewed, the ASUS G53 and the MSI GT680R.
There is no lack of room for connectivity on the eX-L15. On the left side of the laptop you’ll find one USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, FireWire, a card reader and Ethernet. The rear of the laptop holds DVI, HDMI and eSATA, while the right side boasts one additional USB 2.0 port and audio outputs including microphone, headphone, line-in and S/PDIF. Overall, this connectivity is just slightly better than average for a gaming laptop thanks to the combination of Firewire AND eSATA support.
Battery Life and Portability
Like most gaming laptops, the Maingear eX-L15 comes with a large battery, in this case an 8-cell lump that is labeled as offering 76.96Wh (no, not 77 – 76.96, exactly). This is located in the front of the laptop’s chassis, as was the battery in the MSI GT680R, which is atypical for a laptop but does provide better weight distribution.
Given the hardware in the eX-L15, it’s no surprise that the chassis is beefy, measuring almost 1.7 inches at its thickest point. It’s thick enough that I could not fit it into the laptop sleeve of my messenger bag, and it’s large enough that even my backpack barely zips shut with the eX-L15 shoved inside. Clearly, this is not a laptop built with portability in mind.
This is further reflected in the battery life results. The eX-L15 lasted just shy of three hours in the Battery Eater Reader’s Test, and only a hair over two hours in real-world usage. Although these results are not horrendous for a high-end gaming laptop, they’re substantially less impressive than what was offered by the MSI GT680R, which managed to survive just over four hours in the Reader’s Test. Although the faster hardware does battery life no favors, the main culprit is probably the battery, which is much smaller than the 9-Cell 87Wh unit in the MSI.