When financial limits are tossed to the wind, you’ll find laptops that offer higher-than-high-end components, opting for absurdly powerful processors instead of the slimmer, battery-friendly CPUs used elsewhere. You’ll get not one, but two discrete graphics cards, and you’ll see bells and whistles like nobody’s business. You’ll also pay through the nose. Case in point: the Origin EON17-SLX, which costs more than the first two cars I drove (combined). Loaded up with an overclocked Intel Core i7-3940XM quad-core and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M graphics processors, it has some serious gaming chops—and snags our Editors’ Choice award for high-end gaming laptops. Oh, and did we mention it comes with Windows 8?
Rather than starting from scratch, Origin has built the Eon17-SLX in a generic black Clevo chassis. It’s not particularly unique, especially since the same off-the-shelf body and lid will be used virtually unchanged in similar systems from other brands. The black metal and plastic construction weighs 9.2 pounds—already too heavy to carry around frequently—but it’s weighed down further by a giant 3.8-pound power brick, bringing the total weight to 13 pounds.
Instead of a chiclet-style keyboard, like that seen on the Maingear Nomad 17, the EON17-SLX has a traditional layout with adjacent keys. The Windows key, which takes on extra importance with Windows 8, has been shifted to the right of the spacebar, which keeps it out of the way during games, but inconvenient for shortcuts. The backlighting, however, is anything but traditional, letting you adjust the brightness and color in three different zones of the keyboard, giving you seven different colors to choose from behind three different lighting zones. The mouse has been changed to a clickpad, complete with gesture support for Windows 8 along with the usual scrolling and zooming. A fingerprint reader just below the keyboard lets you log on and off securely and easily.
The 17.3-inch screen has a glossy finish—beware of glare—but the 1920-by-1080 panel looks great. It’s worth noting, however, that it is not a touch screen. We’ve seen so many touch-enabled Windows 8 systems of late that our first instinct was to touch the screen, but you’ll be fine with the gesture controls and shortcut buttons on the keyboard and mouse. In addition to looking good, the EON17-SLX sounds good, too, thanks to Onkyo speakers, a built-in subwoofer, and SoundBlaster X-fi MB2 sound enhancement.
The bells and whistles aren’t relegated to the overclocked components and glowing keyboard, though. On the EON17-SLX, you’ll find four USB 3.0 ports (including one with power), a USB/eSATA combo port for connecting an external drive, and a 3-in-1 card slot (SD, MMC, MS). Media hookups abound, with S/PDIF outputs for sound, HDMI and DisplayPort for video. Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi are there for networking, while Bluetooth 4.0 lets you use your favorite wireless mouse or headset. The one thing that concerned me was the decision to use a 4-pin power connector instead of the barrel connector used on most notebooks—the pinned connector must be plugged in correctly, or the plug may be damaged to an unusable degree.
The EON17-SLX combines the best of all storage options, pairing a 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive with two 128GB solid-state drives (SSDs) in RAID 0. The combination provides ample storage along with optimum performance. A tray-loading DVD-Multi drive is found on the right-hand side( Blu-ray options are also available).
While the stock system ships with Windows 8, the EON17-SLX is also offered with Windows 7 Home Premium at the same price. Like most custom systems, the EON17-SLX is bloatware-free. Origin covers the EON17-SLX with a one-year warranty, 45-days of free shipping, and free labor and support for the life of the machine.
The components are where the expense and power of the EON17-SLX really lie, with an 3GHz Intel Core i7-3940XM (Extreme Edition), a crazy-fast quad-core processor (overclocked up to 4.0GHz) paired with 16GB of RAM. It burned through PCMark 7 with a category-topping score of 5,886 points and a Cinebench score of 7.44 points. By comparison, the Eurocom Scorpius—the previous high-end system to offer an Extreme Edition processor—scored 5,317 points in PCMark 7 and 7.31 points in Cinebench. It also blazed through our Handbrake and Photoshop multimedia tests in 31 seconds and 3 minutes 7 seconds, respectively. By comparison, the Maingear Nomad 17, which has a quad-core processor but lower overall clock speeds, finished the same Photoshop test in 5:57.
More important than photo and video tests, the EON17-SLX also offered superb performance in graphics and gaming tests. Origin has put in not one, but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M GPUs, producing 3DMark 11 scores of 4,074 points at Extreme settings and 14,250 points at Entry settings. The dual-card solution also led to top scores in our gaming tests, producing 75 frames per second in Aliens Vs. Predator and 61 fps in Heaven, both with 1080p resolution and high detail settings. However, this is one area where performance doesn’t seem quite as impressive as the premium price might suggest—the much cheaper, single-GPU Maingear Nomad 17 produced 77 fps and 61 fps in the same tests.
Gaming laptop aren’t known for their battery life, and the EON17-SLX is no exception, lasting only 2 hours 21 minutes in our video rundown test. Anything longer than that and you’ll want to have the 4-pound power adapter handy. If portability is something you want in a gaming laptop, look to the Razer Blade (2012), which offered mid-range performance with an impressive 3:54 battery life.
The high-end of the gaming laptop spectrum is always a study in diminishing returns, where hundreds of dollars separate systems with fairly similar performance. While that may be true of one or two scores on the benchmark chart, the Origin EON17-SLX is undeniably the best-equipped gaming system we’ve seen to date, topping the Eurocom Scorpius across the board. As a result, the Origin EON17-SLX is an easy pick for Editors’ Choice, though most people will opt instead for a mid-range system, like the Maingear Nomad 17.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Origin EON17-SLX
Compare the Origin EON17-SLX with several other laptops side by side.
More laptop reviews:
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-3940XM|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M|
|2nd Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M|
|Processor Speed||3 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||17.3 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1256 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc