With a desktop processor and a Nvidia G-Sync display panel, Origin PC's EON17-X laptop is getting dangerously close to my gaming PC's spec.
That's no exaggeration. The EON17-X model Origin PC sent me to test out features an Intel Core i7 4790K CPU (Australian models will have different CPUs available, see here) — newer models of the system released since I received the unit come with Intel Core i7 6700k Skylake processors, so they're actually a step up.
It's got the same amount and speed of memory. The storage drive is half of my desktop's two terabytes, but there are options for more.
The 17.3 inch IPS display panel is a bit smaller than the 22 inch AOC LED hooked to my desktop, but both feature Nvidia's G-Sync technology, ensuring monitor and video output are always speaking the same language.
The major differences, aside from the obvious form factor, is a bulky power supply and a full-size video card — my desktop houses a GeForce GTX 980, the laptop its mobile counterpart, the GTX 980M.
Otherwise they're twins. It's kind of scary, really.
The EON17-X is a 17-inch gaming laptop that isn't afraid to generate some heat and noise for the sake of performance. In an age where thinner, lighter laptops are in great demand, the EON17-X reminds us that with a larger profile comes greater power.
If you prefer something slimmer Origin PC offers the EON15-S, a skinny laptop for skinny people drinking skinny lattes at Starbucks (I'm actually in the market for a new laptop and have been eyeing that model myself, so somebody get me a latte.) You'll be sacrificing power for a sleek profile, but your back won't hurt nearly as much from lugging it around.
The EON17-X isn't a complete neanderthal of a laptop. It is 37 per cent thinner and 30 per cent lighter than the previous version of the laptop. It's just the resulting numbers — 1.5 inches tall and weighing 8.6 pounds — is positively meaty compared to today's paper thin options.
But just look at all of those ports! It's got a total of four USB 3.1 ports, two DisplayPort and one HDMI output on the back, a card reader (I really love a card reader) and even an eSATAp port.
EON17-X Review Configuration
- Origin PC EON17-X with Nvidia G-Sync Display Technology
- EON17-X Laptop Starts at: $2,764 but fully customisable
- Display: 1920x1080 17.3" IPS with Gsync
- Graphics: 8GB Single Nvidia GTX 980M G-Sync-Ready
- Customisable Backlit Keyboard
- Processor: Intel Extreme Core i7 4940MX Quad-Core 3.1GHz (4.0GHz TurboBoost)
- 16GB DDR3 1333MHz (4 X 4GB)
- OS: Windows 10
- OS Drive: 240GB ORIGIN PC Approved Solid State Drive
- Storage Drive: 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 5400RPM, 8MB Cache
- Wireless: Intel Dual Band W/L-AC 7265
- Includes a 1 Year Part Replacement warranty with Free Lifetime 24/7 US Based Technical Support and Lifetime Labour
- Also includes a ORIGIN Recovery USB Drive 3.0 and a 45 Day No Dead Pixel Warranty
- Web MSRP price as configured: $5,240
What really drew me to the EON17-X however, was that G-Sync display technology.
Traditional PC display technology involves a monitor with a fixed refresh rate receiving variable output from a video card. When the video card's frames per second and the monitor's refresh rate don't meet up, screen tearing occurs. The normal solution for this is a setting called Vsync, which limits a video card's output to quantities the attached monitor can handle.
G-Sync removes those limits (within a certain threshold) by having the monitor adjust its refresh rate to match the video card output — it's the other way around. This ensues the display is always getting an amount of data its refresh cycle can handle without tearing.
On PC monitors G-Sync is a hardware module, and in my experience it works just dandy. On laptops G-Sync is implemented differently — the graphics card and display panel are directly connected, so no additional hardware is necessary.
Here's an example of a scene with and without Gsync, courtesy of our friends over at Techspot's hands-on with the EON17-X.
The difference is subtle but very noticeable while gaming. When there's a good chance you aren't going to get the best frame rate — this is still a laptop — it's comforting to know the one you wind up with won't be rife with tearing.
That said the EON17-X is no slouch in the performance department, as one would expect from what passes today as a big-arse laptop. It can push 42 frames per second on maxed out Metro Last Light Redux, and unless you need your TressFX hair technology turned on Tomb Raider manages an average of 58 on Ultra. It's not 60 frames per second, but with G-Sync in effect it might as well be.
Of course there's a trade to be made for a laptop reaching towards desktop power levels. The battery life is bad — we're talking under an hour while gaming — but that's par for the course with gaming laptops. The EON17-X is shamelessly loud and hot when it gets worked up — I wouldn't game with the system on my lap. The system never failed, but there were times I was certain it should.
But I've been reviewing Origin PC laptops and desktops on and off for four years now, and I've not had a problem with a single piece of equipment from the company, unless you count splinters from the wooden crates they ship everything in no matter how many times I try to subtly suggest they quit it.
An Origin laptop — actually the precursor to the model I've been playing with lately — saw me through the birth of my two children. I was utterly charmed by their tiny netbook-sized EON11-S. I wish they still made it. Maybe with a touch screen. When Intel's Haswell processors hit I tried my first Origin PC desktop, and last year when they went lean and mean with the Chronos-Z I was there.
Each of these reviews have two things in common. One, they were all incredibly late. I try to tell PR people that I am notoriously slow with hardware reviews and they laugh. I originally planned to review the EON17-X back in early September. At least it was September of this year.
Second, the hardware has always been excellent. All the components have meshed well, performance as good as it can get given the parts and profiles. I was half-hoping the EON17-X would start smoking or explode a tiny bit. Fortunately (I guess) the worst thing that happened was one of my children prying off the enter key, and it clicked right back on.
The EON17-X is an ambitious beast of a portable PC, prowling about at the edge of its territory to where the larger, more stationary predators hang out, thinking "I could probably take them." And it could. All it needs is a full-size video card, a big bulky power supply and a larger, non-portable case.
And so another lovely amalgamation of hardware from Origin PC passes from my desk back to its crate. It might be the last, as telling people how good a thing is over and over again can get tedious.