A new crop of low-cost but reasonably fast gaming systems has been made possible by Nvidia’s recent GTX 1050 Ti graphics processor, including the Lenovo Legion Y520, Dell Inspiron 15 7000, ASUS ROG Strix GL753 and Acer Aspire VX 15. Origin PC joins the fray with its Eon15-S, breaking new price ground for the custom-build company which traditionally sticks to pricier territory. And based on the latest model of the Eon15-S, I’d say Origin does budget with class, though a little more expensively than some.
The 1050 GTX Ti-equipped notebook buyer likes an afternoon of demon face-punching, but doesn’t don’t care about setting any frame-rate records and can’t tell the difference between 4x and 8x supersampling while running through a swamp. Or does care and can tell, but by necessity is okay trading some speed and quality for price.
Several qualities elevate the Eon15-S above the rest of the crowd. Like the VX 15 and Y520, the Origin incorporates a matte IPS display panel, but the Origin’s looks better — a lot better in the case of the VX 15. (Dell recently introduced a matte IPS option for its Inspiron 15 7000 that’s probably comparable, but I haven’t seen it).
It also has two — two!! — Mini DisplayPort connectors, one on the GPU bus and therefore capable of driving a G-Sync-compatible monitor. That means it can support a total of 3 external displays, with the third on HDMI.
Plus, it has a removable battery, not only a rarity these days but especially for its price class. Of course, given the measly 4.3-hour battery life on our streaming video test, you may want to stock up on them.
Our $1,200 test configuration, with a quad-core Core i5-7300HQ and 8GB memory, performed reasonably well — about the same as similarly equipped systems. As you’d expect, Origin offers a myriad of configuration options starting at $1,000 and which can take you well past the $4,000 mark.
For speed-intensive gamers, I think it’s worth spending a little more if you can, bumping up to 16GB of the 2.4GHz memory and a faster — or at least more consistently fast — Samsung 960 Evo SSD for your primary drive rather than the Intel model in our evaluation unit. It only adds about $100 (£78, AU$135) to the price, but I suspect will improve performance. (I think it’s responsible for the relatively not-terrific Multitasking Multimedia benchmark result.)
Origin PC Eon15-S (2017)
|Price as reviewed||$1,199|
|Display size/resolution||15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display|
|PC CPU||2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ|
|PC Memory||8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz|
|Graphics||4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti|
|Storage||256GB SSD+1TB HDD; SD card slot|
|Ports||1 x Ethernet; 2 x Mini DisplayPort (1 x G-Sync); 1 x HDMI; 1 x USB-C; 3 x USB 3 (1 charging); mic; headphone/audio|
|Networking||802.11ac Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
You can configure the Eon15-S on Origin PC’s Australia site, where it starts at AU$1,550, but that least-expensive setup is pretty limited. According to the US representative, the price of our test configuration should be roughly AU$1,650, but there didn’t seem to be a way to build one that cheap at review time (Mine came out closer to AU$2,300). The company doesn’t have a UK-specific site, but it will ship worldwide; at current exchange rates, our configuration would cost in the neighborhood of £931, and for an extra $41 (AU$53, directly converted £32), it will pack the laptop in a padded wooden crate for safer shipping and that that your cat will love after the unboxing.
After the hairpin turns, it’s all straightaway
The 1,920×1,080-pixel display is comparatively good, and with a 141 pixel-per-inch pixel density it’s pretty sharp. But it’s still got some issues for fast-moving games, which tend to vary by title. Like many laptop displays, the vertical refresh rate tops out at 60Hz, which presents issues if you’ve got a game that hits inconsistent frame rates. For instance, in Doom, it stuttered a bit at 90fps and beyond, and the intro sequence in Metro: Last Light had a case of the wobblies (though the game didn’t).
Plus, it doesn’t have a big dynamic range. In order to be able to see while Artyom stuck to the shadows in MLL I had to bump the gamma way up, which blew some scenes out unpleasantly. Other games, such as Doom, Bioshock Infinite and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looked better with tweaked but more reasonable gamma settings, but in those games you don’t run around frantically turning off lights or hunkering in high-contrast, decrepit subway tunnels.
Connecting to a G-Sync external display solved most of the refresh and visibility issues, though. Through the G-Sync-enabled Mini DisplayPort, the laptop drove a 2,850×1,440 Dell S2417DG as high as 144Hz without issues and a 1,920×1,080 Acer Predator XB272 at up to 240Hz (as well as in Dynamic Super Resolution mode at a lower refresh).
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