Gamers looking for portable entertainment have always considered the 17.3-inch gaming laptop as the pinnacle of mobile entertainment. Many mainstream consumers look at these products with confusion. Why buy a giant brick that costs thousands of dollars? Gamers have the answer: power. And that’s what Origin’s new EON17-SLX is all about.
Even the most basic model comes equipped with an Nvidia GTX 670M graphics processor, an Intel Core i7 quad processor, and 4GB of RAM, which puts it on par with well-equipped configurations from many competitors. And that’s just the beginning.
With upgrades, the SLX can cram in not one but two GTX 680M graphics processor, a Core i7-3940XM (the X stands for Xtreme!) processor, 16GB of RAM, and dual solid-state drives. This is how our incredibly well equipped review unit arrived. It also came with a jaw-dropping price of $4,694.
You don’t have to spend that much, however. The base model starts at $1,899 and $3,000 will get you a machine with a lot of customization. Unlike most laptops, which can be just slightly modified, this behemoth is a platform that can be tweaked to your taste.
A giant arrives
No one will mistake the Origin EON17-SLX for anything besides a gaming laptop. It’s big, bulky, thick and built with matte black plastic, which is perfectly complemented by more matte black plastic. Oh, and there’s a bit of black metal around the keyboard, but it’s hardly noticeable.
Competitors like Alienware and ASUS clearly offer better aesthetics. Gaming laptops are often more focused on function than form, but it’d be nice if Origin at least threw in a custom paint job. That would help the SLX look worth its price.
Handling the laptop roughly revealed a strong chassis. No groans of protest could be heard when we picked up the laptop from one edge, and all of its surfaces feel solid. Build quality is also good. Panels are perfectly fitted and the gaps between them are small.
Connectivity? Yea, it’s got that. There are four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA/USB combo port, HDMI, DisplayPort and four audio ports handled by a Sound Blast X-Fi sound card. You can even have a TV tuner, though our review unit was not equipped with that option.
A big and average keyboard
There’s plenty of space for a full-sized keyboard and numpad on the SLX. Both are of average quality. Key travel is fine, and key feel is satisfactory. There could be better definition between keys, but we had no trouble touch-typing. Everything is up to par without going much beyond it.
All versions of the SLX have a backlight that allows for seven custom colors over three different zones. A software driver controls the backlight, but it was a bit finicky during our tests. It crashed on one occasion, which rendered the backlight inoperable until we rebooted the system. The controls have an amateur look and feel. We like that Origin includes multi-zone backlighting, but Alienware’s Alien FX is still king of gaudy LEDs.
Touchpad quality, like the keyboard, is just fine. It’s large and works well with multi-touch gestures. There’s no particular texture to it, and the integrated mouse buttons feel a bit indistinct in action, but neither issue is terribly distracting.
The laptop that rocks the house
The SLX performed well in our display tests. It rendered 97 percent of the sRGB gamut while providing solid contrast and black level results. The laptop’s 1080p resolution is the only option and offers a crisp, clear picture. Even overall brightness was excellent, which means the glossy panel could be used in a sunlit room.
However, we did note some uniformity issues in our tests. Our benchmark reported that portions of the display’s right side varied in brightness by up to 25 percent when compared to the center, but our eyes weren’t able to spot any real-world impact from this problem.
Though solid overall, image quality doesn’t rank above average. Gaming laptops offer a higher caliber of display than their smaller cousins. Though the SLX blows away the average laptop, it comes in a bit behind competitors like Samsung’s Series 7 Gamer.
Audio quality is a high point. It’s loud, clear, and provides a fair amount of bass. While watching a variety of high-definition movie clips, we noticed that even action scenes caused minimal distortion and remained balanced. There’s also no vibration from the chassis. Users who aren’t concerned about audio may never feel the need to hook up a pair of external speakers.
Our review unit came with not one but two video cards to cool. That’s a lot of hardware for any laptop to deal with, yet the SLX managed without issue. Even Furmark, a graphics stress test that is notoriously demanding, raised external temperatures no higher than 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a great result.
Fan noise is the price paid for cool operation. At idle the laptop produced a barely noticeable 41.5 decibels of sound. Loading it with a 3D game, however, increased noise to a distracting 52.7 decibels. Gamers be warned: cooling two video cards in one laptop requires an aggressive cooler.
Best left at home
Portability? You’re kidding, right? The SLX weighs in at about 13 pounds and is up to two inches thick. It won’t fit in many laptop bags and, once there, will require a strong set of shoulders to haul it around. Anyone who carries their laptop more than once a week will find the SLX tiring.
You’ll need to bring the power brick as well; battery life is terrible. Even our light-load Reader’s Test drained it dry in just 3 hours and 1 minute. The Web browsing test sucked down the battery in 1 hour and 43 minutes, and the Battery Eater load test ate through it in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Power testing showed why endurance is poor. The laptop drew 88 watts of power at idle and 135 watts while running the 7-Zip processor benchmark. That’s more power than some desktops!
Origin doesn’t ship its laptops with much in the way of pre-installed software, and the SLX is no exception. The only application you’ll notice is the free password protection software that can work in conjunction with the fingerprint reader. It is a bit distracting, and while we appreciate added security, we think most users will ignore it.
Other software includes a 3D photo viewer, CyberLink PowerDVD, EVGA’s GPU overclocking app, and the previously mentioned tool that adjusts the keyboard backlight. All of this is unobtrusive. You’ll only notice it if you need to use the software.
Look at it go!
The hardware in our review unit was undeniably impressive. It packed in both an Intel Core i7-3940XM quad-core and two GTX 680Ms running in SLI. As if that weren’t already enough, Origin used its factory overclocking service to increase the processor’s maximum clock speed to 4.5 GHz.
SiSoft Sandra’s Processor Arithmetic benchmark reported a score of 116.92 GOPS, while 7-Zip turned in a combined score of 22,710. Both of these numbers beat our previous records by about 15 percent. They’re also higher than the figures produced by many mainstream all-in-ones and mid-range gaming desktops.
This excellent performance carried over to PCMark 7, which reached a final score of 5,999. That score is, again, the highest we’ve ever recorded from a laptop. We were particularly impressed by the pair of solid-state drives operating in RAID0. The drives provided blistering performance and nearly made load times extinct.
As for the dual GTX 680Ms, they’re quick. Really quick. 3DMark 06 turned in a score of 29,011 and 3DMark 11 reached a score of 10,663. These scores are way ahead of the last Alienware M17x we reviewed, which had only a single GTX 680M, and also bests some gaming desktops like the Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition and the HP Pavilion HPE h9.
Our high-end configuration may in fact be overkill for many gamers. We tested The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Diablo 3 and found that both games ran at ridiculous framerates with every detail setting at max. There’s no game on the market today that can seriously challenge the hardware found in the Origin EON17-SLX.
Origin’s EON17-SLX is every gamer’s dream. It doesn’t just play games well; it sneaks behind them, puts them in a chokehold, and forces them to say bad things about their mothers. Only Nvidia 3D vision (an optional extra not found on our review unit), in combination with a demanding title at maximum detail, might challenge the hardware in this laptop.
We do wish that Origin had gone the extra mile and lavished the laptop with some aesthetic improvements. The company is small and can’t be expected to rebuild the chassis from scratch, but a custom lid or paint job would be nice. A laptop this outrageously expensive should look the part.
An entry-level SLX may have trouble competing against value leaders like the ASUS G-Series and the Samsung Series 7 Gamer. But our review unit, with its incredible price tag of $4,694, dominates everything. And, as we mentioned before, you don’t even have to spend that much. Buyers who drop down to a standard Core i7 (instead of the Extreme Edition), 8GB of RAM, and grab just one solid-state drive can get this laptop with two GTX 680Ms for just over $3,000. That’s a decent price for the fastest gaming laptop on the market today.
- The fastest laptop money can buy
- Mid-range variants provide good value
- High build quality
- Great audio
- Dull aesthetics
- Poor keyboard backlight controls
- Awful battery life