I recently made a trip to visit my family and, out of my two systems (a desktop and I laptop), I could obviously only take my laptop. As much as I like my MacBook Pro, it’s a 2013 model and it doesn’t offer good performance for the kind of project I’m working on (that photorealistic horror game). Character Creator 3 was not running as fast as it does on my desktop and the game runs very poorly in Unreal Engine.
Since this was a long visit, and game development doesn’t stop, I figured my best option was to look for a laptop so I could take it (and al the work I make) with me when I travel back. Laptops are usually very expensive compared to desktop counterparts, and buying a laptop was not part of my plans so I hadn’t been saving for a new computer. However, I didn’t want to buy a cheap dated laptop either. In my mind, a computer should last me a few years before I change it (I rarely upgrade parts now, not even for gaming).
While browsing for laptops, I found a very affordable laptop from a brand I had never heard about: MAINGEAR. I decided to look for more information and reviews from other people, and what I saw made me choose this laptop. This is my experience after one month using a MAINGEAR Vector 2 laptop as my primary system, meaning I would use it for game development in either Unity or Unreal Engine 4 (including development of “Just Let Me Go”, the photorealistic horror game I have written about in the past), character creation using CC3, animation in iClone and 3d modeling and animation using Maya.
The specs of the laptop are: 10th Gen Intel Core i7 at 2.6GHz, 16Gb of DDR4 RAM, Geforce RTX 2060, 1Tb SSD NVMe. Using an SSD means you get really fast load times and it shows. Windows only takes a few seconds to load. Application load time depends on the application. iClone and Character Creator can take up to 30 seconds, but those applications also take a similar amount of time on my desktop (also using an SSD). According to what I have read, the NMVe is faster than the SATA SSD because it uses de PCIe slot. However, that difference in speed may be more crucial in situations where you need extremely high performance (like maybe web servers, or systems that have to deal with big databases). I cannot perceive such a big difference when opening or closing files compared to my other system.
Unreal Engine 4 and the Reallusion software, the two more demanding apps I have, run very smoothly. I was concerned the game would have a bad framerate because I’ve had bad experiences with laptops in the past, but this one runs better than my desktop (I should mention my desktop has a GTX 970, so this one is definitely better). The image quality is also very good, comparable to my Mac’s Retina Display. From my experience, working with dark games can be a pain in some monitors, but this laptop’s screen is able to show those just fine, without any real artifacts. Bright colors are also displayed correctly.
The keyboard is a mechanical keyboard, and it feels really smooth. You can change the color of the keyboard backlight if you feel like it (I left it at the default red color because I like red). The trackpad is decent size, but I think it is too sensitive. I rarely use the trackpad but in the past I’ve ran into trackpads that register a tap as a hold, so I end up accidentally dragging files or folders. Luckily you can make the trackpad recognize clicks from presses, not taps, so that solves the issue. Another nice feature is how you can turn off the trackpad completely if you double tap the upper left corner (when you turn it off it shows a tiny green light on that corner). This is extremely useful if you are using a mouse and your hand accidentally keeps tapping on the trackpad and thus moving the cursor.
A weird choice is the position of the webcam. All laptops have the webcam located above the display, but this one has the webcam located below the display. This means you have to bend the laptop lid backwards so the person you’re chatting with can see you, because by default the other person will see your chest. I don’t really know if there was a reason behind this, but doesn’t make much sense to me. Another thing I can complain about is the speakers. The quality of the speakers is not really that great. Sound has this “noisy” and cheap quality to it.
Lastly, some people online were complaining about the loudness of the fans. Having used a MacBook Pro for demanding tasks, I know how loud fans can get, and these fans can be as loud as my MacBook’s fans, meaning they can get really loud. However, the laptop doesn’t really get too hot, so I guess the fans do their work. Battery life doesn’t seem to be that great. I reckon you can get between 60 to 90 minutes if you’re working on documents, but for game development I’ve only been able to work for around 30-40 minutes before I have to reconnect.
Visually, the laptop is very minimalist-looking. It doesn’t have the racing car or spaceship look other gaming laptops have, and I actually like that. Being used to the minimalist look of the MacBook makes it very hard for me to be attracted to those bulky laptops. On top of that, the laptop is very thin, and very light, so that’s a big plus. Also, you know how many laptops have all those stickers (Intel Inside, Geforce, Windows 10, etc.) next to the trackpad? Personally, I find that horrible, and I am glad tThis one has them at the bottom, making the laptop a lot nicer to look at.
Lastly, this laptop has ZERO bloatware. No “antivirus trials”, no “this and that demo” or “streaming service you will never use” preinstalled. It comes with Windows and that’s it.
MAINGEAR laptops, as I understand, are “brandless laptops” provided to different PC builders. That’s why you can also find the exact same laptop at CyberPower, but with a different brand and name. To be honest, this made me reluctant to buy this laptop but after one month of extensive use, I can definitely recommend this laptop to anyone looking for affordable options. The MAINGEAR Vector 2 sells for $1300 right now, and so far it’s been worth every penny.
MAINGEAR Vector: https://maingear.com/vector/