The Bottom Line
May 10 2013 - If you are looking for a gaming laptop quick, the Maingear Vybe 15 is certainly an option for those wanting one fast but you sacrifice the company's traditional customization features. This brings about some of the problems of the configs as with the pricing, it lacks a quad core processor that its competition all have. Beyond that process, the system does hold up quite well although a little behind some when it comes to 3D performance. It is still quite capable just not the best overall value.
- High Resolution Display With Anti-Glare Coating
- Quick Ship Setup
- Dual Core Processor Rather Than Quad Core
- Below Average Battery Life
- Intel Core i7-3520M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDDR3 Memory
- 750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 15.6" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- Windows 7
Review - Maingear Vybe 15
May 9 2013 - Maingear is generally known for the customizable gaming systems. The Vybe 15 is different in that it is a prebuilt laptop that is available in four different levels. For this review, I'm looking at their Better configuration which is one step up from the lowest and is priced at $1299. Externally, the systems are all the same with a relatively svelte 1.3-inch thichkness which is very good for gaming specific laptops.
Powering the Maingear Vybe 15 Better system is an unusual Core i7-3520M dual core processor. It features all the same basic features as most other Core i7 processors but with its two cores, it is less suited for heavy multitasking or very demanding tasks like desktop video editing. It would have been nice to see a Core i7-3630QM quad core processor instead as this is typical of many competing laptops at this price point. Even with this being the case, the processor does a fine job for many users and can handle gaming tasks just fine. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory but it is surprisingly uses slower 1333MH memory compared to 1600MHz memory found in many laptops now.
Storage for the Maingear Vybe 15 is handled by a traditional hard drive. The 750GB storage capacity is pretty common size for many laptops in this price range. It does use a 7200rpm spin rate drive to provide it with a bit more performance. It is disappointing to see that Maingear only supports solid state drives for the higher configurations as it would be nice to have a small SSD to cache the hard drive for better speed booting up the system or loading frequently used programs. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the left hand side for use with high speed external hard drives if you do need additional space. A standard dual layer DVD burner is also there for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
The 15.6-inch display panel on the Maingear Vybe 15 is one of the best features. The panel offers a very high 1920x1080 resolution and features a matte anti-glare coating. The only downside here is that even with the coating, it can be difficult to use the system in bright lights such as outdoors because the brightness seems to be less than the average screen. Viewing angles are quite good but tilting the screen forward does produce some significant contrast loss. There are two graphics tiers for the Vybe 15 and this version uses the lesser GeForce GT 650M graphics processor. This is a capable 3D processor that will let some games reach the full panel resolution but more demanding or modern games will likely require lower resolutions or detail levels. For those looking to use it for more than gaming, it will also offer some solid acceleration for non-3D applications.
The keyboard for the Vybe 15 uses an isolated layout design that is common to most laptops now. There is a full keyboard that includes a numeric keypad which means a few of the right hand keys are a bit smaller. The every important left hand size uses nice large keys which is beneficial to gamers with the typical WASD controls. The only downside to the keyboard is for those that really need to type on it as there is a fair amount of flex in the middle of the keyboard. The trackpad is centered on the keyboard rows rather than in the middles and feels a bit narrow for a laptop of this size. It features a dedicated rocker bar style buttons which work alright. Gamers of course won't likely be using this as they tend to use external mice.
In order to keep the slim profile for the Vybe 15, the system uses a 49WHr capacity battery pack that is fairly small for a gaming class system. In digital video playback tests, the system was only able to run for three and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is relatively low for a laptop of this class even with its limited battery. Those planning to use it for gaming without a power cord will likely see times well under two hours. In contrast, Alienware's M14x R2 can run for five hours in the same test.
With its price of $1299, the Vybe 15 is unfortunately on the higher end of pricing. Most systems at this price offer more features but the Maingear system is a quick ship option. Some of the competing systems at this price include Alienware's M14x R2, Cyberpower's Xplorer X6-6000, Lenovo's IdeaPad Y500 and Samsung's NP780E5Z. The Alienware is a smaller system with its 14-inch screen with a lower resolution but makes up for that with better battery life. Cyberpower's Xplorer X6-6000 is a bit more affordable with faster GTX 660M graphics but is larger. Lenovo's IdeaPad Y500 offers amazingly fast graphics with dual GTX 660M graphics but lacks an optical drive and battery life as a result. Samsung's system uses a larger hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 8870M graphics in a very slim profile.