Origin EVO15-S review: A portable, powerful Max-Q laptop that does everything right

It's a good laptop, not just a good gaming laptop.

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Origin EVO15-S performance

With such a potent hardware arsenal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Origin EVO15-S delivers top-notch performance, and not just in games.

cinebench Brad Chacos/IDG

Maxon’s Cinebench R15 measures raw CPU performance, and it loves more threads. Unsurprisingly, the EVO15-S delivers performance similar to other high-end gaming laptops equipped with Intel’s quad-core Core i7-7700HQ. The Alienware 17 edges ahead of the crowd thanks to its more powerful Core i7-7820HK processor, but these are all great results.

handbrake Brad Chacos/IDG

Our second test uses an older version of the free Handbrake encoder and mostly focuses on CPU performance as well. The Cinebench test has a short run time, but the file we encode in our Handbrake test takes around 45 minutes on a quad-core processor, which lets you see how a laptop’s temperature throttling affects performance over time. The Origin EVO15-S lags a bit behind its rivals but still delivers a respectable score.

But gaming laptops are all about the graphics. We test the visual chops of gaming laptops using 3DMark’s Fire Strike Extreme benchmark. Specifically, we rely on the Graphics sub-score, which focuses on pure GPU performance.

3dmark fire strike Brad Chacos/IDG

Here’s where the compromises required to sneak powerful Max-Q GPUs inside slim laptops start to show. The Origin EVO15-S’s GTX 1070 Max-Q laptop turns in a score a good chunk slower than the full-blown GTX 1070 inside the thicker, heavier Alienware 14, but a good chunk faster than the GTX 1060 found in the Gigabyte Aero 15. Think of it like a GTX 1060 Ti and you’ll be on the right track.

That difference continues to show in actual games, though here the EVO15-S leans closer to GTX 1070 performance than GTX 1060. It’s a perfect fit for the gorgeous 120Hz display on this system. (Note that the Alienware 17 was not able to be retested with a recent Nvidia driver update that gave Rise of the Tomb Raider a sizeable performance increase; we’d expect it to out-perform the GTX 1080 Max-Q laptops if up-to-date. Stability is why we still use Shadow of Mordor and Tomb Raider.)

rotr Brad Chacos/IDG
shadow of mordor Brad Chacos/IDG
tomb raider Brad Chacos/IDG

When you’re gaming on the Origin EVO15-S the fans can get pretty loud—louder than the Acer Predator Triton 700’s, and that laptop packs a more powerful GTX 1080 Max-Q. On the bright side, those fans are effective. I saw no performance drop when I re-ran the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark continuously for an hour straight.

Something has to give when you cram this much hardware and cooling into such a small laptop. In all the high-end Max-Q notebooks we’ve tested, that’s been battery life. The two GTX 1080 Max-Q laptops we’ve reviewed, the Asus ROG Zephyrus and the Acer Predator Triton 700, both contained woefully small 50-ish watt-hour batteries, compared to the 85Whr to 95Whr packs seen in many non-Max-Q laptops. Surprise! They turned in the worst battery lives we’ve ever seen in PCWorld’s battery rundown test, which loops a 4K video endlessly. Each lasted a mere two hours.

battery life Brad Chacos/IDG

The EVO15-S contains a similar 53Whr battery, but it’s able to last longer—possibly due to its more modest GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, or possibly because of its lack of G-Sync. Origin’s notebook lasted three hours and 36 minutes with our video loop before bowing out. Laptops with standard Nvidia GPUs last far longer on the bench, though they don’t offer both performance and portability like these Max-Q rigs. If you’re planning on a long trip—or doing any gaming whatsoever—make sure you keep your EVO15-S charger handy. You’d do that for any gaming laptop, to be fair, but the impact is more pronounced with such scant battery capacity.

Should you buy the Origin EVO15-S?

The basic value proposition of the Origin EVO15-S is the same as the other Max-Q laptops we’ve reviewed. If you want a very powerful, very portable laptop that delivers performance on a par with notebooks that usually measure twice as thick and thrice as heavy, these are the only options around.

The Origin EVO15-S isn’t as powerful as the GTX 1080 Max-Q-equipped the Asus ROG Zephyrus or Acer Predator Triton 700, and it also lacks a G-Sync display. But the GTX 1070 Max-Q inside delivers a stellar gameplay experience with very high frame rates on the gorgeous 120Hz screen—making the lack of G-Sync less noticeable.

origin evo15 s above Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

The Origin PC EVO15-S.

Origin’s laptop still falls prey to Max-Q’s common compromises. At $2,375, this laptop isn’t cheap, and it suffers from subpar battery life. But the EVO15-S costs hundreds less than the GTX 1080 Max-Q laptops we’ve reviewed, and it lasts nearly 1.5 hours longer in our longevity test. More importantly it sticks to solid, standard keyboard and touchpad designs. You’ll still want to keep your charger and gaming headset ready if you plan to game on the run, but you can leave all the accessories at home and use the EVO15-S as, you know, an actual laptop for a few-hour stretch. You can’t say that about the ROG Zephyrus or Triton 700.

If you don’t mind severely sacrificing portability, standard GTX 1070 laptops like the Alienware 15 ($1,700 on Dell) offer somewhat higher performance for less money. Or if you want a light laptop and don’t mind a gaming performance hit, the GTX 1060-equipped Gigabyte Aero 15 ($1,800 on Amazon) is another option. But if you’re looking for a blazingly fast gaming laptop that you can actually carry around, the Origin EVO15-S stands out because it’s a good laptop—not just a good gaming laptop. The sleek design and Origin PC’s outstanding out-of-box experience are just icing on the cake. 

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At a Glance
  • The Origin PC EVO15-S is a portable, powerful gaming notebook that looks good, feels great, and can actually be used as a laptop.

    Pros

    • Great performance
    • Thin and fairly light
    • Gorgeous 120Hz IPS display
    • Sleek and solid overall design

    Cons

    • Poor battery life
    • Unsatisfying speakers
    • No G-Sync
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