Origin EON17-S Review: 11 Pounds of Power
At a Glance
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The EON17-S is bulky, heavy, and generic-looking, but it's an excellent performer.
Mobile gamers will find powerful performance and some portability in Origin's latest custom-built gaming laptop, the 2012 Origin EON17-S. The EON17-S, which the company describes as the "next generation of high-performance," has been redesigned with a 17.3-inch full-HD display, updated specs, and an additional hard drive where the optical drive used to be.
Our review model costs $3442 and packs alluring specs: an Intel Extreme Edition Core i7-3920XM CPU overclocked to 4.5GHz, 16GB of speedy DDR3 RAM, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M graphics card. The system also boasts two 120GB solid-state drives in RAID 0, as well as a 1TB hard disk in the optical bay (Origin includes a slim external Blu-ray writer for all of your optical-drive needs). Other notable features include built-in 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, built-in Bluetooth, and a built-in webcam, microphone, and fingerprint reader. The system runs Windows 7 Home Premium.
The Origin EON17-S is a gaming powerhouse, and its performance score reflects this. In PCWorld's WorldBench 7 tests, the EON17-S scores an impressive 200, which means it is twice as fast as our baseline system. This score makes the EON17-S one of the highest-scoring computers we've tested on WorldBench 7 so far, including performance desktops.
Despite the EON17-S's excellent benchmark score, its graphics performance is only slightly above average. In PCWorld's graphics tests, the EON17-S churned out consistent, but not exceptionally high, frame rates of 75 and 90 frames per second in Crysis 2 and Dirt 3 (high-quality settings, native 1920 by 1080 resolution). The Dirt 3 frame rates are especially unimpressive, as we're used to seeing nearly double these rates in performance desktops.
The EON17-S's poor battery life, which is not much better than its predecessor's, is just 2 hours and 33 minutes. This despite the fact that it implements Nvidia's Optimus graphics-switching technology. You can blame that on the high-power, overclocked CPU. Less agressively overclocked systems would likely last longer on a single charge.
Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad
The EON17-S isn't exactly gorgeous…or portable. The system is housed in a thick, bulky plastic chassis with a few well-placed brushed metal accents on the lid and wrist-rest. The laptop alone weighs 8.6 pounds, but since the system boasts only 2.5 hours of battery life, you'll also need to tote around the 2.5-pound power brick for a total shoulder weight of more than 11 pounds.
Though it won't win any beauty contests, the EON17-S is built well and feels sturdy. The laptop's cover features a black, brushed aluminum panel with a light silver Origin logo painted in the center. Surrounding the aluminum panel is shiny black plastic that tapers off at the edges. Inside is a matte black plastic keyboard deck surrounding a full-size keyboard and a 10-key number pad. The wrist-rest area and trackpad are also made of brushed aluminum.
Origin now offers a new lid design in silver, black, or red. It makes the system look a little like the closed hood of a muscle car. Though it adds a little thickness, it actually reduces the system’s weight by a third of a pound; but the laptop is thick and heavy enough in the first place that you’re not likely to notice. The new lid design costs the same as the traditional design, which is still available.
You get plenty of ports on this hulk of a machine. The right side houses a USB2.0 port, headphone and microphone jacks, and line-out and optical line-out jacks, as well as the optical drive door (or hard-drive caddy, in the case of our configuration). The left side features two USB3.0 ports, one USB3.0/eSATA combo port, a mini FireWire port, gigabit ethernet, and a 9-in-1 card reader. Finally, on the back of the machine, you'll find an HDMI-out, a DVI port, a DisplayPort, and a Kensington lock slot.
The EON17-S's keyboard is acceptable. The matte black keys are almost Chiclet-style--they touch each other at the bottom like regular-style keys, but taper into little plateaus at the top. It's easy to type on, though it doesn't offer as much feedback as I usually like, and the keys are a little light to the touch. The 10-key number pad is expected on a 17.3-inch laptop, but it's placed directly next to the keyboard, so the entire thing feels a little cramped. The keyboard is backlit and you can change the colors and their patterns, or divide the keyboard into three different-colored zones, which is neat.
The keyboard deck has no special buttons, just seven large (but not too bright) LEDs indicating toggles such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and caps lock. Features such as screen brightness, volume, and keyboard lighting are controlled via function keys.
Below the keyboard is a medium-sized trackpad with two discrete plastic buttons separated by a fingerprint reader. The trackpad is a little on the small side for such a bulky machine, but it's fairly accurate, sensitive, and easy to use, despite its rough-ish brushed aluminum texture. The plastic buttons feel a little cheap, and don't depress very easily. For basic tasks, the trackpad is fine, and for gaming, well, you're likely to be using an external mouse anyway.
Screen and Speakers
The EON17-S's 17.3-inch glossy display has a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. The screen looks very good: it offers up crisp images; brilliant, vivid colors; and very good viewing angles for a glossy display. It's also overwhelmingly bright, which is always nice in the event that you're having an outdoor LAN party. With every laptop, Origin offers a "No Dead Pixel Guarantee," which means your screen is covered for 45 days. You can purchase an additional 45 days' worth of coverage for $49.
Video looks great on the EON17-S, with just a little noise and artifacting in fast-paced, darker scenes. Audio sounds very good on the EON17-S, thanks to the 5.1 speakers, subwoofer, and THX TruSurround software. Once you turn the THXTruSurround on, sound is above average, even for a desktop replacement, with decent bass and good surround sound replication. If you're an audiophile you will want to use headphones, but for laptop speakers these are pretty good.
The Bottom Line
The Origin EON17-S isn't for fashionistas. It's bulky, heavy, and very generic-looking, and it costs nearly $3500 in a world of slick $1000 ultraportables. That said, it offers excellent performance, lots of fast storage, 16GB of RAM, and decent gaming capabilities. Plus, its audio is above average, even for the desktop replacement category. So if you're looking to lug around 11 pounds of power, the EON17-S might be for you.