Origin EVO-17S review: This thin gaming laptop tames even the mighty Core i9

Can you get a Core i9 in a "thin" laptop? Origin's EVO-17S can.

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Origin EVO-17S Performance

None of this would matter if the EVO17-S didn’t perform. Our first benchmark against a stack of gaming laptops is Maxon’s Cinebench R15, which is built on the company’s 3D rendering engine from its Cinema4D 3D modelling application.

Modelling and rendering today are highly dependent on the number of CPU cores or threads available. The top dog in this category is the all-AMD version of Acer’s Predator Helios 500, with its 8-core Ryzen 7 2700 CPU. Among the 6-core Core i9 chips CPUs, though, the Origin PC EVO17-S holds its weight. It’s about 5 percent slower than the Alienware 17 R5, and impressively it’s within spitting distance of its older sibling the EON17-X, which uses a desktop CPU. It also outpaces the Intel/Nvidia version of Acer’s Predator Helios 500, outfitted with the same Core i9. You can get the Predator Helios 500 to wake up if you overclock it, but out of the box, the EVO17-S does decently well.

origin pc evo17s cinebench r15 nt IDG

The Origin PC EVO17-S is just 5 percent of the Alienware 17 R5 in multi-threaded Cinebench performance.

As we said, Cinebench R15 is a test that measures 3D modelling and taps all cores and all threads. However, very few applications and workloads exploit that many cores. In fact, single-threaded and single-core performance is probably more important for 90 percent of what we do in a browser, Microsoft Office, and most games.

To get an idea of how well the Origin PC EVO17-S does in very light loads, we also run Cinebench R15 using just a single core. The result is a pretty big win for the EVO17-S, which actually manages single-threaded performance above that of a Core i7-8700K desktop chip.

What this means is under single-threaded loads, the EVO17-S will boost to about 5GHz for about 5 seconds before settling down to about 4.7GHz. That’s enough performance to basically make it the fastest laptop around in single-threaded loads. And no, we didn’t overclock it ourselves. That’s the out-of-the-box performance from the Origin PC laptop.

origin pc evo17s cinebench r15 1t IDG

In Cinebench R15, the Origin PC EVO17-S starts out at just under 5GHz before dropping down to about 4.7GHz on single-threaded loads.

HandBrake Performance

Nothing against Cinebench, but because of its relatively short execution time, it doesn’t tell you how a particular laptop will handle the heat in longer tasks. For that, we use the popular and free HandBrake encoder to convert a 30GB, 1080p video file using the Android Tablet preset. 

For the most part, the results put the three Core i9 laptops within reach of each other. The thickest of the three, the Acer Predator Helios 500, comes out slightly faster. The two big winners are the older Origin EON17-X with its desktop CPU, and the Acer Predator Helios 500 outfitted with the 8-core Ryzen 7.

The Core i9’s main advantage is high-boost clocks, which it will hold until it heats up enough for the the CPU to ratchet back performance. You can see, for example, that the 6-core Core i7 laptops aren’t that much slower than the 6-core Core i9 laptops in the chart once the turbos burn off.

For the most part, on heavy, heavy CPU workloads, we’d declare it a tie between the three Core i9 laptops. Given the thickness of the EVO17-S, we’d call that a pretty good draw.

origin pc evo17s handbrake performance IDG

The EVO17-S holds its own in our HandBrake encoding test.

Gaming Performance

You don’t buy a laptop like the EVO17-S just for CPU workloads. No, you buy a laptop like the EVO17-S for gaming. First up is an overall score using 3DMark Fire Strike, a synthetic gaming benchmark with a lot of credibility.

The GeForce GTX 1070 in the EVO17-S performed as expected. For the most part, a GeForce GTX 1070 unconstrained by thermals has always been a good GPU. The EVO17-S is slightly ahead of the other full GTX 1070 laptops. 

origin pc evo17s 3dmark firestrike overall IDG

The EVO17-S has a slight lead on the two other 1070 laptops but let’s call it mostly a tie.

We also ran a few games, and here’s one of a few that tells you what you need to know: It’s pretty much dead even with the other GTX 1070 laptops. At this level of laptop it’s about picking what GPU you want. If we were to look for a weakness of the EVO17-S, it’s the lack of a GTX 1080 upgrade. That gives the edge to other designs which let you pick from the top-end GPU and down.Still, let’s not be too picky. This is a fairly thin laptop for this much hardware.

origin pc evo17s rotr IDG

The GTX 1070 in the EVO17-S performs as expected which is good when you consider just how thin this laptop is.

Battery Life

We don’t think battery life should really matter that much on a large gaming laptop, which spends 99 percent of its life on AC. Still, you should know it’s not good on the EVO-17S. In fact, it’s probably fair to say it’s poor. We basically got just over two hours of looped video service out of it.

Part of that comes from the use of G-Sync in the high-frame-rate panel. When G-Sync is a feature (and FreeSync for the matter), the GPU must be on even when all you’re doing is watching video. On laptops with hybrid graphics, which can use a CPU’s IGP for video playback or boring chores, battery life can get fairly decent even in a gaming laptop.

The EVO17-S’s smallish battery doesn’t help either. Like we said earlier, this probably isn’t a big issue on a gaming laptop, which will live as a desktop replacement, but a thin gaming laptop will probably get used on battery far more than a thick desktop replacement. In that regard, you just might want to care more about the battery life here.

origin pc evo17s video run down IDG

Battery life of laptops with variable refresh is generally poor.

Conclusion

The elephant in the room is all the rumors of impending new GPUs at CES. But the pattern that’s emerged lately with hardware has been simple substitutions. If you know the EVO17-S can run a GTX 1070 just fine, you know an equally fast GPU is likely to get rolled into the EVO17-S. We fully expect to see a very similar laptop to this with whatever GPU is announced.

We were more interested in whether the EVO17-S could handle the heat of the Core i9. In fact, when Intel first launched Core i9 in laptops, we initially thought it would appear only in very heavy, very thick laptops. Somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be a great marketing idea to jam the CPU into thin laptops, which meant the Core i9 mostly performed at a Core i7’s level.

Origin’s EVO17-S shows that you can indeed get Core i9 in a “thin” laptop. It just has to be different definition of what some would think of as thin.

This story, "Origin EVO-17S review: This thin gaming laptop tames even the mighty Core i9" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • Origin’s EVO17-S shows that you can indeed get Core i9 in a “thin” laptop. It just has to be different definition of what some would think of as thin.

    Pros

    • Relatively thin body for a 17-inch gaming laptop
    • Impressive Core i9 and GTX 1070 performance

    Cons

    • Fans spool up under relatively light loads
    • Pretty bad battery life
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