The Origin Eon 17 SLX is a monster ... in a good way. Equipped with dual Nvidia GTX 780M GPUs in SLI configuration, gamers can expect screaming frame rates on even the most graphically taxing games. A powerful Core i7 Extreme CPU processor, a pair of SSDs and an additional hard drive just reinforce the company's shock-and-awe approach. Of course, all this power doesn't come cheap: While the Eon 17 SLX starts at $2,016, our configuration costs $4,462. Does all that muscle make the SLX the new king of the gaming notebooks?
When we first set eyes on the Eon 17 SLX, our inner "Knight Rider" fantasies ran wild. A pair of glowing red lights and black chrome grilles along the rear of the notebook reminded us of David Hasselhoff's Trans-Am. We just wish that there were a pulsating row of red lights up front so we could have our own personal K.I.T.T.
Aside from the notebook's rear, the Eon 17 SLX keeps things simple, employing a refined, black, soft-touch finish on the lid, with a light-gray Origin logo prominently in the center. Unfortunately, the lid is a fingerprint magnet, turning into a shiny mess.
One thing you won't see on most notebooks is the back-facing 1.0-MP webcam on the top edge of the Eon's lid. Intended for use when video conferencing, it ups the notebook's weirdness factor considerably.
The interior is made primarily of black matte plastic, with a thin strip of glossy black plastic breaking the monotony. This shiny strip, which runs along the top of the deck, contains a number of status lights as well as a circular power button. The keyboard resides in a slightly recessed deck; just below, the touchpad is emblazoned with a glowing Origin emblem. In another zany design twist, Origin left a half inch of space between the touchpad and the discrete mouse buttons.
We were disappointed to learn that, unlike the Origin Eon 17-S, which has seven custom chassis options, the SLX can only be ordered in black.
Measuring 16.5 x 11.3 x 2.15 inches and weighing a hulking 9.4 pounds, we wouldn't recommend carrying around the Eon 17 SLX for long periods of time. The 16.5 x 10.7 x 1.2~1.7-inch Toshiba Qosmio X75 is a full 2 pounds lighter. It also dwarves the ASUS G750JX (8.8 pounds, 16.1 x 12.5 x 0.66~1.9 inches) and the MSI GT70 (8.9 pounds, 16.85 x 11.3 x 2.2 inches). That's nothing compared to the hulking beast that is the Alienware 18's 12.2-pound, 18 x 12.9 x 2.83-inch frame.
Similar to Alienware, Origin outfits its notebooks with customizable backlit keyboards. Users can also set the color of the touchpad emblem. The lighting configuration program allows users to choose from eight effects (Random, Dancing, Tempo, Flash, Wave, Breath, Cycle and Custom) and eight colors (Black, Blue, Red, Pink, Green, Light Blue, Yellow and White). Unfortunately, you can't toggle the lights along the notebook's rear.
Using the backlighting software is fairly straightforward -- you can choose an effect or create a unique light palette using the Custom setting. We wish that the software allowed deeper customization, as Alienware does. It would be nice, for example, to set the colors for the other effects, instead of having them cycle through the available hues.
We also wish the software were easier to access. The program can only be launched by pressing the "/" (forward slash) key on the number pad in conjunction with the Fn key. It took us a number of tries before we located and started the app. In contrast, Alienware's AlienFX software can be quickly found in the Alienware Command Center utility suite.
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The Eon 17 SLX's 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel matte display offers good viewing angles and sharp details, but colors and contrast could be better. Watching the 1080p trailer for "Her," Joaquin Phoenix's bright-red shirt took on more of a persimmon color. The blacks also fared poorly, as evidenced by a night scene of the city skyline that wasn't quite as dark as it should be.
When we played "The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings," the deep and foreboding blacks of a midnight forest looked ashen and gray. Geralt's distinctive facial scar also had a faded quality. And just like in the "Her" trailer, the reds had more of an orange tint than we would have liked.
When we measured display brightness, the SLX measured 261 lux, topping the 253-lux desktop replacement average. That was enough to beat the GT70 and the G750JX, which both hit 240 lux. The Alienware 18 did somewhat better, with 254 lux, but the Qosmio X75 was the brightest in the bunch, measuring 297 lux.
Nestled between the hinges of the lid and angled toward the user, the SLX's Onkyo speakers bathed our face in loud, brassy audio. Queen Latifah's full, flirty alto was the star of the show as we listened to "When You're Good To Mama." However, her playful delivery was, at times, upstaged by the tinny trumpet section. That, combined with the brassy cymbals, resulted in a cacophony of chaos at full volume.
We attempted to tame the brass dragon with the Sound Blaster Xi-Fi MB control panel, but there wasn't any real difference between the Music, Movie and Game presets.
While playing "The Witcher 2," some of the background music sounded flat, with very shallow bass, and swelling crescendos during a key battle sounded hollow and ordinary. However, effects such as clanging swords and babbling brooks were spot-on and greatly enhanced the ambiance.
The SLX scored 82 decibels on the LAPTOP Audio Test (audio output at 23 inches from the laptop), well below the 91-dB average. The G750JX managed 85 dB, while the X75 achieved 94 dB.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Similar to previous Origin notebooks, the SLX has a traditional keyboard with a full number pad. The keys are big, with nice spacing and firm, springy feedback. We hit 60 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, noticeably higher than our 55 wpm average. We weren't blown away by the brightness of the backlighting, but it will get the job done in a dimly lit room.
Origin's 4.1 x 2.75-inch touchpad has plenty of space for you to navigate. However, it's not centered under the G and H keys, which can be an issue for touch typists.
The discrete mouse bar is hit or miss -- as in, you have to ignore your instinct to press down directly below the touchpad, or you'll miss it. Because the mouse bar is located a full half inch below the touchpad, we often found ourselves having to look before we pressed to make sure we literally hit the bar. The lightly textured bar felt good against our finger and had a distinct click. However, it would have been nice if the bar were split into two separate buttons.
The SLX features a BioExcess fingerprint scanner for gamers who want to make sure their "Call of Duty" stats have extra protection. The scanner is located just below the Enter key of the number pad.
The initial startup is simple. After choosing a finger to register, we slid our finger over the scanner six times. As with most scanners, the swipes have to be slow, deliberate movement or it won't scan, and you'll be forced to do it again.
Once the fingerprints were entered, we assigned them to launch Steam and access our Facebook account. It can also be used to access Twitter and Gmail.
During the LAPTOP Heat Test (streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes), the SLX's touchpad measured a cool 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys registered 84 degrees, while notebook's bottom was 86 degrees. Those temperatures are well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
However, after 15 minutes of playing "The Witcher 2," the touchpad jumped to 87 degrees. The space between the G and H keys and the bottom vent rose to 100 degrees. Also, the notebook's fans were going at full speed and sounded like a small turbine.
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The Eon 17 SLX has the unusual distinction of having both rear-facing and front-facing webcams. Both devices can capture images and video in 1080p. An option bar along the bottom of the display let us switch between the cameras on the fly.
Colors on the 5.0-MP camera (the one facing us) had a bluish tint, giving any browns in the picture a darker hue, including our skin. Although the image was clear enough to read the orange text on the cereal box, the image was still fuzzy, with few clear details.
The 1.0-MP rear camera gave us brighter colors than the front camera. We were particularly impressed with the vivid blue and red from our "Candy Crush Saga" Rubik's cube. Similar to the front camera, the rear device did an admirable job of capturing text, but the overall image was still grainy.
The SLX is just teeming with ports. Two USB 3.0 ports sit on the right side of the notebook, along with an eSATA/USB 2.0 port, a Thunderbolt port and a DVD burner. Along the left are a 9-in-1 card reader, an Ethernet port, a Kensington lock slot and jacks for headphones, microphone, line-in and S/PDIF. Lining the rear of the device is another pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-in and the power jack.
Strap on your seatbelts! The Origin Eon 17 SLX has been outfitted with dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M GPU in SLI (Scalable Link Interface) packing 4GB of VRAM each. For the uninitiated, Nvidia's SLI technology harnesses the power of two GPUs to dynamically increase graphics performance and enhance image quality. That means that this rig will deliver blistering frame rates and performance, whether you're saving the galaxy or editing video.
The notebook tore through 3DMark11 with a jaw-dropping score of 13,076. That's almost three times as high as the 4,576 desktop-replacement average. The Alienware 18, which also sports twin Nvidia GTX 780M GPUs in SLI, scored a slightly lower 11,642.
Needless to say, the Origin's scores were generally double those of other 17-inch notebooks with single GPUs. For example, the MSI GT70, which has a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M GPU, notched 5,903. The ASUS G750JX and the Toshiba Qosmio X75, which have Nvidia GeForce 770M GPUs with 3GB of RAM, hit 5,202 and 4,915, respectively.
When we ran the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the SLX achieved 112 fps on Ultra at 1080p, topping the 94-fps average. However, it couldn't compete with the Alienware 18's 168 fps. That left the G750JX and GT70 duking it out for third place, with 105 fps and 103 fps, respectively. The X75 barely beat the average, with 95 fps.
On the more demanding "BioShock Infinite" test, the SLX hit a searing 108 fps on High at native resolution, crushing the 38-fps average. The Alienware 18 was a very distant second, with 80 fps. The GT70 managed 44 fps, followed by the G750JX (37 fps). The X75 brought up the rear, with 29 fps.
The SLX continued to dominate when we ran "Metro: Last Light," scoring 52 fps on High at 1080p.
The Origin Eon 17 SLX's 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-4930MX CPU with 16GB of RAM was more powerful than other systems we've tested, but the gap was less pronounced. It easily streamed an episode of "House of Cards" while running a system scan with 15 open tabs in Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
On PCMark 7, the notebook scored 6,475, easily topping the 4,689 desktop-replacement average. The Alienware 18's 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-4900MQ delivered 6,199, while the ASUS G750JX and its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU hit 6,115. The 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU-powered Toshiba Qosmio X75 and MSI GT70 notched 6,049 and 6,025, respectively.
The SLX is equipped with two 120GB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration and a 750GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, which allowed the system to boot Windows 8.1 in 16 seconds. That's 10 seconds faster than the 26-second average. However, the G750JX (1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive) started Windows 8 in 11 seconds, the GT70 took 9 seconds and the X75 loaded Windows 8 in a blistering 6 seconds.
The Eon 17 SLX duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 17 seconds for a transfer rate of 299 MBps, more than twice the 123-MBps desktop replacement average. The Alienware 18 was right behind, with 268 MBps. The X75's 256GB SSD and 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive achieved 154 MBps, while the G750JX and hit 170 MBps respectively. However, the GT70's dual 128GB SSDs and 1TB 7,200-rpm HDD obtained a screaming 463 MBps.
When we ran the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the SLX matched 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 39 seconds, which blew past the 4:46 average. The Alienware 18 was a close second, at 3:40, with the X75 right behind, at 3:58. The GT70 and G750JX clocked in at 4:01 and 4:05, respectively.
Must...stay...plugged...in...The Origin Eon 17 SLX only lasted 2 hours and 18 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi). While we don't expect all-day endurance from a desktop replacement, that's almost 2 hours less than the 4:12 desktop-replacement average. The Alienware 18 managed to edge out the SLX, with a time of 2:30. The Toshiba Qosmio X75 clocked in at 4:09, while the MSI GT70 posted 4:18. The G750JX was the last rig fragging, at 4:57.
Software and Warranty
There's no bloatware as far as the eye can see. Other than the Windows 8.1 apps (Mail, Calendar, Xbox Music and News), the Origin Eon 17 SLX has no extraneous programs gumming up the works.
The notebook comes with a one-year part replacement and a 45-day free-shipping warranty, with lifetime labor and 24/7 support.
So, how much is an ultra-tricked-out rig worth to you? An arm? A leg? Both? Our review unit costs a whopping $4,462 and features a 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-4930MX CPU with 16GB of RAM; a pair of 120GB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration; a 750GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; and dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M GPUs in SLI (Scalable Link Interface), each of which packs 4GB of VRAM.
But don't sign your firstborn over to Origin just yet. Gamers can also walk away with the $2,016 base model, which offers a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor with 4GB of RAM; a 320GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; an Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M GPU with 2GB of VRAM; Windows 7; and a DVD burner. It's not all-powerful, but it's still a pretty formidable notebook.
The company also offers a plethora of enhancements, allowing shoppers to choose from up to three GPUs, six CPUs, nine RAM options and 11 SSDs. Gamers can also order additional mSATA caches and RAID configurations.
Every time we think Origin can't top itself with the overpowered bells and whistles, something like the Eon 17 SLX falls into our laps. Its dual Nvidia GPUs delivered the best graphics numbers we've seen this year, and its CPU and SSDs were also among the fastest we've seen. It doesn't hurt that the notebook resembles a sexy sports car, either. And who can forget the dizzying number of customization options the company offers?
However, for $4,462, Origin needs to put some more work into its display and audio, and we were not fans of the placement of the touchpad or the mouse bar. For roughly the same price ($4,499), you can configure an Alienware 18 with the same CPU, GPUs and RAM, plus a 512GB SSD and a 750GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive. Although it weighs 3 pounds more, we also prefer its design, display and customizable lights.
Overall, the Origin Eon 17 SLX is an über-powerful notebook made for gamers with money to burn. While it could stand some improvements, in terms of raw horsepower, it'll give you one hell of a ride.