Origin EON15-S Ivy Bridge gaming laptop
Origin offers a high-performance 15in notebook for gamers and power users
- High-end CPU and graphics
- Keyboard backlight
- Heaps of features
- Very glossy screen
- Touchpad a little small
- Some aspects of the keyboard layout
Origin's EON15-S has good credentials for gaming, allowing most games to be played at high resolutions and with maximum detail level enabled. It's a well built notebook with lots of built-in features and it has one of the best backlit keyboards that we've experienced to date. However, its screen is way too glossy and its solid state drive too small. The latter can be fixed easily when configuring this laptop, and that's another good thing about this laptop: you can pick and choose the amount of grunt and capacity that you require.
Price$ 2,720.00 (AUD)
The Origin EON15-S is more than a notebook, it's a gamer's tool. It has one of the fastest configurations for a 15in laptop on the Australian market and it can handle most games at high detail levels and at Full HD resolution. It doesn't make you sacrifice eye-candy for performance like many other gaming laptops tend to do — with this one, you can have both beautiful graphics and playable frame rates. The cost is just shy of $2800 for the particular configuration that we looked at, and if you're serious about performance and features in a notebook computer, then it's a model that's well worth considering.
Features and performance
A chassis from Clevo gives the Origin EON15-S a rich feature-set, which includes not only the standard array of connectivity that can be found on laptops, but also rarer ports such as DVI and mini-FireWire, and it even has separate headphone, line out, microphone and line in ports. In addition, you get HDMI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, three USB 3.0 ports (one that doubles as an eSATA port), a regular USB 2.0 port, a DVD burner and an SD card slot. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi (via a Realtek RTL8723AE adapter). It really is a complete computer and, even if you're not into games all that much, it would make a fantastic workstation or desktop replacement notebook. (If you're a design professional or engineer, you can also configure this notebook with a 4GB NVIDIA Quadro 5010M graphics card.)
It's a notebook that ships with a high-end Intel Core i7-3820QM CPU (an Extreme Edition i7-3920XM is also available), a high-end 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7970M graphics adapter, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM (Origin can install up to 32GB via four slots according to the configurator on its Web site), and a 128GB solid state drive. It's a potent configuration that ensures the Origin EON15-S can be used for even the most taxing of tasks and it turned out to be one of the fastest notebooks that we've tested to date. It recorded a time of only 17sec in our Blender 3D rendering test, 46sec in our iTunes MP3 encoding test, and 31min in our AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid conversion test. It turned out to be quicker than the ASUS G75VW, for example, which is another high-end gaming notebook, albeit with slightly slower specifications.
The AMD Radeon HD 7970M graphics adapter managed to obliterate the 3DMark06 benchmark, its mark of 23139 being one of the highest registered by a laptop that we've reviewed, and it's definitely a laptop that can be used to play games at full detail levels. This was shown in Battlefield 3, where a 1920x1080 resolution and Ultra graphics detail managed to record over 32 frames per second, dipping to around 28fps only when there was a lot of action on the screen from explosions and smoke. However, if you require faster performance, running at slightly lower detail levels will accommodate high frame rates.
Storage is one area in this laptop that is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it has a solid state drive that provides zippy boot-up and application loading performance, not to mention relatively quick file transfer rates. On the other hand, it's a 128GB drive with a formatted capacity of 111GB. If you're a keep gamer, a handful of games installed on this machine will deplete the storage capacity significantly. We only installed two games, Battlefield 3 and Portal 2, which, along with about 10GB worth of benchmark files, left 34GB of free space. There isn't a second hard drive bay in the 15in chassis, but the optical drive bay can be used to house a second drive if you purchase the hard drive caddy for it.
Origin offers a few drive options, including a 512GB SSD, conventional 750GB and 1TB hard drives up to 7200rpm, and hybrid storage with an optional micro SATA SSD. You can configure the notebook with one storage drive and an optical drive, or you can configure it so that there are two storage devices, one taking up the space where the optical drive would go. If you know that you'll never need a built-in optical drive with this laptop, then that's the way to go.
In our tests, the 128GB SSD put up decent numbers, but it's not the fastest SSD that we've seen — that honour still belongs to the SSD that we saw in the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. In CrystalDiskMark, the Origin's drive recorded a read rate of 211 megabytes per second (MBps) along with a write rate of 149MBps. The Dell's drive recorded 438MB and 264MB in those read and write tests, respectively. In our own file duplication tests, the drive recorded 81.53MBps, which is a very good result ordinarily, but about half the speed of the Dell.
Overall though, the performance of the Origin EON15-S was very good during regular usage, with high responsiveness when loading and switching applications and boot times were adequate (in the 30sec range). Because it's such a configurable model, it can be even faster if a different storage option is selected.
Even though it's a high-end laptop, it can still be used for a decent amount of time away from a power outlet. It runs the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics when it's on battery power, and unless you are performing CPU-intensive tasks while not plugged in to an outlet, its run time will be enough to watch a long movie, for example.
In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the EON15-S lasted 2hr 28min. This is even better than some recent, less powerful laptops we've seen, such as Dell's Inspiron 15R 5520. However, the battery in the Origin does have a hefty rating of 76.96 Watt-hours, so its relatively good time in this test is not all that surprising.
Design and user comfort
At almost 3.2kg, the EON15-S is a heavy unit and not really something you'll want to carry with you on a regular basis, especially since it also comes with a large power supply. Taking it to a friend's house now and then, or to a LAN event will be no problems, but using it as your everyday portable is a bad idea — it's about 55mm thick (including the feet on the chassis), 375mm wide and 255mm deep. The build quality feels good, with the chassis being especially sturdy, but the bezel around the screen feels a little delicate. The bottom panel is removable and allows access to the main components, and the battery is a block that sits in the chassis proper, rather than a cylindrical shape along the spine.
Physically, the laptop looks good. It has a meanness to it that's acceptable for a gaming model and the red, molded cover on our test model is a thing of beauty to our eyes. It has a nice rubbery feel to it. The matte finish on the palm rest also feels good to touch and the keys have a smooth, matte finish. A bar across the top of the keyboard houses stereo speakers and there is a sub-woofer installed in the base. The sound from this laptop isn't as good as it looks like it could be (the sub-woofer adds more mid-range if anything), but it's still adequate for casual listening. There is a THX TruStudio Pro equaliser installed, but we couldn't get it to work with the Realtek sound card or with any analogue headphones that we plugged in.
Noise from the laptop can be noticeable when the CPU or graphics adapter are under load, which is understandable considering the high-end components that are involved. There are two vents at the rear of the unit and both have fans to cool their components — the CPU on one side and the graphics adapter on the other. We didn't notice any undue warmth coming up through the keyboard or the palm rest and the base overall didn't get too warm either — that said, we used this notebook almost exclusively on desks, leaving plenty of room for ventilation.
The screen is a Full HD panel that sits behind a glossy finish. The bezel around the screen is glossy as well. It may look good, bringing a little bit of flashiness to the overall design, but reflections from the screen can be very irritating, especially when looking at dark scenes in a game or movie. The vertical viewing angles of the screen weren't too bad for us, but we ended up moving the screen back and forth more because of reflections, rather than problems with the viewing angles.
One of the most striking features of this notebook is its backlit keyboard. It lights up in three different zones and there are different colours and schemes to choose from. You can make it so that the left third of the keyboard is a different colour to the rest, making it easier to spot game controls. The configuration utility for the lights is something you can spend a lot of time in. Apart from the different zones and colours, there are different patterns that can be selected — the lights can dance, flash or simply perform random tricks. It's a feature that adds individuality to the unit and we found the lights to be a pleasure to look at while using the notebook in the dark. Their intensity can be selected manually and there are 10 steps to choose from.
As for comfort, the keys are a little bouncy towards the middle, but they have just the right amount of firmness and travel to be responsive. A number pad has been packed in, which makes the unit feel a little cramped, but the only parts of the keyboard layout that caused us problems were the Windows key on the right side of the space bar instead of the left, and an extra backslash key positioned right next to the space bar.
The touchpad is from Synaptics, but at 86x46mm, it's a little on the small side. That said, it was responsive in our tests and it felt smooth enough to use comfortably. It supports two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicking, but there is no support for four-finger gestures. There are physical left- and right-click buttons and nestled between them is a fingerprint reader than can be used in conjunction with the installed AuthenTec TrueSuite software.
While the primary audience for this laptop is gamers, anyone who is after a powerful notebook computer with a lot of features should consider it as well. It's well built, it looks good, it's comfortable to use overall, and its performance is fast. There are some aspects of the configuration that we don't like, such as the low-capacity SSD and the single-band Wi-Fi, but different configurations can be selected when purchasing this unit, so that's no biggie. It could use a matte screen though because the glossy panel it comes with can really cause lots of frustration due to reflections.
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