Introduction, Design, Features
When we think of Origin gaming laptops, we think big—beefy high-performance heavyweights like the thick and burly EON17-SLX 10. That’s why the boutique vendor’s new EON15-S is a surprise: It’s a 15.6-inch gaming rig that’s practically thin and light. No, it’s not an ultrabook or one of Nvidia’s new Max-Q gaming slimlines, but it measures just 1.05 by 14.9 by 10.5 inches (HWD) and weighs a quite reasonable 5.08 pounds. We had it next to a rival, the Lenovo Legion Y520, on our desk and it looked like the trimmer of the two (though rechecking the Lenovo review reveals the size differences are trivial).
The EON15-S also aims for a word rarely if ever linked to Origin PCs: affordable. Prices start at $999, and our test unit turned out at $1,168 with a full HD (1,920×1,080) display, Intel Core i5-7300HQ quad-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 250GB PCI Express solid-state drive, and 1TB flash-accelerated hard drive.
That’s exactly where the action is in a hyper-competitive market for gaming notebooks priced at $1,000 plus or minus a couple of C-notes. (It’s a market, however, in which buyers with GTX 1050 Ti budgets are always longing for GTX 1060 machines, those with 1060 budgets longing for 1070’s, and so on.)
Naturally, the Origin doesn’t have all the frills of $3,000 gaming laptops. Like the Legion’s, for example, its USB-C port is just a USB-C port, without Thunderbolt 3 functionality for super-high-bandwidth docking, video, and storage solutions. You can divide its colorful keyboard backlighting into three zones, but can’t choose hues for individual keys as you can with some of MSI’s and Razer’s RGB rainbows.
But what the EON15-S can do is play games—the latest and greatest games, with all the image-quality options and eye candy turned on, comfortably above the 30 frames per second threshold that eliminates jerky or stuttering play. If you settle for a title’s second-best settings (rarely a visible reduction in quality), you may hit hardcore gamers’ 60fps threshold for silky-smooth play.
In other words, the Origin EON15-S is a contender, a laptop that merits a place on the gaming grid and on your short list. Let’s dig into the details.
If you want to blow your budget, you can order an EON15-S with a custom paint job akin to those available on Origin’s desktops, ranging from a neon color to hot-rod flames to your company logo. By default, the case is understated black plastic, with raised accent lines on either side of the round Origin logo on the lid and more lines etched into the front edge. There’s a swoopy pattern of cooling vents at the rear, but without the garish contrasting red of many gaming laptops.
Lift the lid, and you’ll see another pair of accent lines converging on a bold pentagonal power button centered above the keyboard. The keyboard tray and palm rest are a sea of black plastic. Moderately wide bezels surround the 15.6-inch matte screen, which has the Origin name centered below and the usual Webcam centered above. The camera captures well-focused, fairly well-lit shots with nearly no grain or static, though it missed a few fine details like the pattern in our shirt.
The notebook feels fairly sturdy, with only a little flex when you grasp the screen corners or press in the middle of the keyboard deck. There’s a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader (the older swipe-to-scan rather than the newer, easier press-to-scan type) between the buttons below the touch pad.
If you’re looking for ports, Origin has you covered. The EON’s left edge holds a connector for the AC adapter brick; an Ethernet port; no fewer than three video outputs (two mini DisplayPort and one HDMI); the USB-C port; a USB 3.0 port; and an SD card slot. On the right edge, you’ll find headphone and microphone jacks; another USB 3.0 port; and a USB 2.0 port.
There’s a prominent Sound Blaster Cinema 3 sticker on the palm rest, but the Origin’s sound is shy and retiring—tone and quality were quite good when we played our favorite MP3 files, but volume was oddly muted even when cranked to 80 or 100 percent. Bass was detectable but sounded far away and thin. Disappointed that the EON15-S couldn’t fill a room, we plugged in and enjoyed the audio through our Skullcandy headphones.
It took us some sleuthing to understand what was happening with our test unit’s display—a few seconds after startup each day, it seemed to dim or change color temperature slightly, which turned out to be not a hardware flicker but a software utility called Datacolor Spyder loading a color calibration profile. Even after the tweak, however, there was plenty of brightness, with good contrast for peering into shadowed areas.
The screen’s 1,920×1,080 resolution saved us from squinting at its 15.6-inch span, while providing crisp detail for text and images (and letting games run at speeds that the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti could never sustain with the quadruple pixel count of a 4K display). Colors looked fresh and vivid in games and videos alike.
We have a minor gripe with the Origin’s keyboard layout, which is that it’s not a layout so much as a big rectangular block of keys. Even a skilled touch typist appreciates a bit of separation between the main key area, the inverted-T arrow keys, and the numeric keypad, but the EON15-S provides no such distinction, with the cursor arrows and primary keys jammed together. At least there are dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys, albeit small ones, to the right of the Delete key on the top row.
On the positive side, the keyboard has a first-rate typing feel, with ample travel and a springy touch, as well as a backlight that’s positively brilliant. The same utility that lets you pick from a Technicolor palette for three keyboard zones lets you record keystroke or app-launch macros. The touch pad glides smoothly, though the mouse buttons below it feel a bit flimsy.
Origin provides all the extras that a boutique supplier should, from a signed checklist for each notebook’s preparation and inspection to a bundled USB drive for system recovery (a bit too geeky for our liking—think of the old Norton Ghost imaging utility, with scary lists of files and partitions, rather than a one-button “click to restore” solution). We were impressed with the minimally arranged Start menu and almost total lack of bloatware, as well as the removable battery pack—an increasingly rare feature nowadays.