Alienware may have abandoned its Lilliputian M11x gaming laptop with its recent product refresh, but that doesn't mean the trend toward smaller gaming systems is waning. At least that's what Maingear is hoping.
The boutique PC builder is shrinking the footprint of its two newest systems, one a mighty mite desktop, the other a notebook the same size as the M11x. The Potenza is a mini-ITX-based tower that Maingear has built with similar hardcore performance features its larger computers possess, such as the company's vertical heat dissipation technology. That means you can choose from options like an Intel "Ivy Bridge" Core i7-3770K or AMD A8-3870K unlocked processor and an AMD Radeon HD 7870 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics card. You also have two drive slots for SSDs or hard drives, and you can get up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
Of course, those are higher-end specs. For $899, you get an AMD A8-3500 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD burner, and AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics. For $69 extra, you can upgrade to Maingear Epic 120 liquid cooling, and for an additional $79, you can swap in a Radeon HD 6630D2 Hybrid CrossFire video card, which works in tandem with the A8-3500's integrated graphics capabilities. Not too shabby for a system that measures a mere 7.5-inches high.
Meanwhile, Engadget has discovered that Maingear is also prepping the Pulse laptop, which is based around an 11.6-inch 1,366x768 LED-backlit screen. Other specs are an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, 8GB of RAM (with the option to double that amount), 320GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce GT650M graphics. The Pulse will start at $1,099 when it ships on June 3.
At the same time, Origin PC is now offering a similarly sized and spec'd gaming notebook dubbed the Eon11-S. Starting at $999, the tiny portable comes with a less-capable processor, the Intel B960 Pentium, but the same specs as the Pulse. You can upgrade to an Intel Core i5-2520 for $135 more, or even the quad-core Core i7-3612QM for an additional $295.