Hands-On And First Impressions
[Editor's Note: The following content is intended to be a first look, with some hands-on impressions and a few benchmarks. We will be conducting full reviews of gaming laptops soon enough, with a battery of exhaustive tests, including more thorough benchmarks (we're currently revamping our benchmark suite), and deeper analysis. But we wanted to get some of the newer models into the lab for some early testing.]
The Origin PC EON17-SLX is all about performance, boasting a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics module and Intel Core i7-6700K host processor. It's no surprise, then, that the EON17-SLX is designed to actually replace your home PC, offering close to the ceiling of what fits in a mobile device. Of course, it has a price to match.
Let it never be said that Origin PC doesn't protect its products for the trip to your front door. Our EON17-SLX arrived in a large wooden crate proudly displaying the company logo, with the interior box completely shielded from damage. Expect to pay an extra $41 for this "crate armor" option. The box inside the crate had a friendly thank-you note from Origin PC printed on it, building anticipation for this higher-than-high-end gaming laptop: "The moment has arrived."
The laptop itself is in a protective sleeve, which is covered by the box, that uses tensioned plastic instead of Styrofoam to suspend the system, thus minimizing shock to the device during shipping. Normally, we wouldn't spend so many words gushing about packaging quality, but the lengths Origin PC goes to ensure its product arrives safely would make a Russian nesting doll maker jealous.
The EON17-SLX is custom-configured by Origin PC and ships with the latest drivers and operating system updates. Inside the box is an Origin PC T-shirt, all of the retail component manuals, a notebook user guide, a driver disc, a recovery disc and a 16GB flash drive containing a backup image of the operating system.
The most prominent features are the desktop-class components, which include an Intel Core i7-6700K and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 8GB graphics module, both of which can be overclocked. And don't forget the 256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe SSD, 16GB of DDR4 and 17.3-inch IPS G-Sync display. This laptop is in a tier only a few gamers can afford. For over $3,300, the EON17-SLX should offer some of the highest performance possible in a laptop, and be comparable to a desktop.
The large chassis creates lots of room for I/O. There are five USB 3.0 ports (one of which is a charging port), four audio jacks, a 9-in-1 media card reader, an HDMI 2.0 output, two mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors and a USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port, which operates at 10 Gb/s with USB 3.1 and 40 Gb/s with Thunderbolt 3.
The laptop doesn't appear to have any bloatware to speak of, unless you count the BioExcess fingerprint scanner software that pops up after boot (and will continue to do so until you set it up or disable it). The other software Origin loads, including Intel's Extreme Tuning utility, a graphics overclocking program, Flexikey (keyboard macro and LED lighting software), Control Center (for switching power modes), Sound Blaster audio software and a Spyder screen calibrating utility are actually quite useful for a system like this. There are no pesky trial versions of antivirus or word processing products to uninstall.
The EON17-SLX sports a ton of vents, which isn't surprising considering the machine's hardware. The bottom of the chassis appears to be mostly dedicated to intake, with two small speakers visible through the holes. The rear vents are exhausts; the right side expels heat from the graphics module, while the left takes care of the CPU's thermal energy. The front of the chassis is lined with more intake vents. Also not surprising: when this thing gets hot, it gets loud.
This system is considerably heavier than your average laptop, weighing in at 10.5 pounds. That heft is distributed mostly toward the machine's rear, but is also well-supported by sturdy construction. Nothing about the EON17-SLX suggests quality was compromised. The hinges are firm and the screen doesn't wobble.
The on-board audio provided by a Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 is impressively clear and full. The speakers in the hinge and underneath the chassis (two in the hinge and two underneath, four total) provide pleasant mid-range and high frequencies with decent bass response.
The EON17-SLX comes equipped with a 17.3-inch 1920x1080 IPS G-Sync-capable display. Eight gigabytes of GDDR5 on the GeForce GTX 980 is absolutely overkill for a 1080p display. However, if you connect the laptop to an external 4K display (which seems like a reasonable expectation, given the HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 outputs), the extra memory could come in handy.
The added bonus of G-Sync makes gaming at ultra-quality presets quite enjoyable. Nvidia's technology seems most useful when averaging below 60 FPS, which tends to happen in the most taxing games at high resolutions, even on high-performance GPUs. G-Sync eliminates the screen tearing usually associated with disabling V-Sync, allowing you to crank up the quality slider instead of holding back just to achieve a 60 FPS target.
The EON17-SLX features a multi-color LED backlit keyboard, which is comfortable in both feel and size. You can create profiles and macros using the included Flexikey software. It's also useful for recording keystroke statistics and modifying the keyboard's LED colors.
The touchpad is perhaps the least-enjoyable feature of the EON17-SLX. It’s not that this is one is especially bad, I just happen to dislike touchpads. For basic productivity, it's actually responsive. However, the fingerprint scanner placed between the left- and right-click buttons got in my way often, and it would activate the BioExcess software that I neglected to configure, reminding me to set it up each time. I quickly found myself connecting a Bluetooth mouse.
The EON17-SLX comes with an eight-cell lithium-ion battery, which Origin PC claims provides up to 180 minutes (3 hours) of use. That doesn't sound like much, but considering the desktop-class hardware, size of the display and weight of the laptop, we really see the EON17-SLX spending most of its time in one place, on a table and close to an AC outlet.
The power supply is massive and heavy. The cord and connector are also very thick, and with a maximum output of 330 watts, they should be.