Maingear Titan 17 Impressions

If you couldn't ascertain from the dimensions listed on the previous page, this is a very large notebook - the biggest and heaviest I have ever worked with. At over 12 pounds without the large external power supply unit, it's about 4x heavier than a modern ultraportable and more than twice as heavy as a standard 15" notebook.

The front bezel of the Titan 17 features a 35mm ExpressCard and an infrared sensor on the left and a battery / power indicator on the right. Moving to the right side of the system we find four audio jacks: line-in, S/PDIF-out & surround-out combo, microphone and headphone. Additionally there are three USB 2.0 ports and a security lock slot.

The back of the notebook consists of a DC-in power jack and multiple ventilation slots. On the left side is a DVI-out port, a cable antenna jack, network jack, HDMI-out port, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, a mini-IEEE 1394b port, an optional HDMI-in port, 9-in-1 card reader and a Blu-ray optical drive.

On the bottom of the system are four rubber feet that lift the system up for proper ventilation. We also find three vents that intake air which is expelled from the vents we just touched on at the back of the system. Strangely enough there are four intake holes yet only three are in use.

Other features include a small subwoofer, removable battery (8-cell, 78.44 Wh, 5300 mAh) and three hard drive bays (one under the battery compartment and two under the slotted access panel). As such, you have the option to run RAID 0, 1 or 5 with this system. Removing the bottom panel reveals a cooling system on par with a nuclear power plant.

Interestingly enough, there are four fans under the cover, raising further concerns about why one of the ventilation holes is blocked off. I questioned Maingear about this and was told that there had been internal debate on the subject but that blocking off that particular fan port actually increased cooling ability due to some convection thermal design.

The outer lid on the 17.3" screen is brushed aluminum with a reflective strip across the center. The Maingear name has been etched into this strip which looks and feels really nice.

Opening the lid requires a bit more force than I am accustomed to which means there won't be any screen wobble during intense gaming sessions. As we already mentioned, the glossy display is 17.3" in size with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 3.0MP webcam is centered above the display with microphones flanking each side.

Maingear has included a full size chiclet style keyboard on the Titan 17, complete with a numeric key pad. Just above the keyboard is a touch sensitive "instant key" panel that allows you to adjust the volume as well as enable or disable the Bluetooth radio, WiFi and PC camera. There are also four LED activity lights on this panel: hard disk activity, number lock, caps lock and scroll lock.

The audio system on this notebook has serious potential with five speakers facing the user and a small subwoofer on the bottom of the unit. The subwoofer didn't seem to add much to the mix though. The only time I could even verify it worked was when running a speaker test in the Realtek control panel or the THX audio test. Otherwise, I never heard it in games or movies when specifically listening to it. I'm no audio expert but I suspect the frequency range of the sub is so small that it rarely has anything to play.

Below the keyboard is a slightly recessed touchpad measuring roughly 3.5" x 2.6". There are separate mouse click buttons as well as a fingerprint reader centered between the two click buttons. A blue glowing bar separates the click buttons from the touchpad.