Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PC Review: Origin eon-15s

Here's something a little different for you all.

Recently I've been talking about games all this time, but really I feel that it's important to cover the gear that runs them so let's get right to it.

Note: As of my writing this Origin has released a new model of eon-15s. That being said the difference between the new laptop and my current build is almost nothing. The difference between gtx 580m and gtx 675m is actually nonexistent. In fact the 675m is actually the same board as the 580m just running at a 1-3% higher clock speed. So regardless of the numbers this review still pertains to the newer model eon-15s almost entirely.

About 2 months ago my laptop (alienware) of 4 years decided to fry itself into oblivion. It had been a good computer but was definitely starting to show signs of aging. Add on the fact that it was still ruining DirectX 9 in all reality it probably was time for an upgrade, I just needed the right excuse. I had been doing some research here and there till that point, as I knew that my computer would bite the dust relatively soon, and to my dismay nearly every major computer manufacture was peddling what I'd like to call total crap.

If we're looking at just the PC market everything had outdated videocards, small displays, and puny processors. Sure you could get a 750gb HDD, or some form of a SSD, but for my actual work I'm a product designer, so not only do I need something with a quality, high resolution, screen I also need a processor that can render video files with ease and chug through extremely complex computer models without flinching. Those factors alone almost require an ultra high end gaming computer. The final nail in the coffin to mortal PC's is it has to be portable. I do a fair amount of freelance work, so I need something I can just toss into a backpack and go, which means anything larger than 15" is out of the question.

I would love to get a Mac, and as a designer I feel like sometimes it's my obligation to do so, but in this case the Mac just wasn't going to cut it. Most of the programs I run (Guild Wars 2 :D) can only be run on a Windows OS and I wasn't about to go and shell out an extra $300 above the already premium Mac price to install Windows, so I had to look elsewhere.

The list essentially got broken down to boutique premium laptop companies: Origin, IbuyPower, and Falcon Northwest. IbuyPower didn't have the options I wanted, and while Falcon Northwest was essentially identical to Origin I wasn't about to go and pay an extra $800 for some candy paint. The reasons I went this way can be broken down in a simple list:

15" 1920x1080 screen
Full Keyboard (with number pad!)
USB 3.0
i7-2760QM (2.4GHz)
Nvidia GTX 580m
16GB Ram

Does the laptop work? Hell yes it does! The 1920x1080 screen is spectacular, though I've found that in a 15" size I have to set the default web browser zoom to 125% so I'm not squinting to read the text. This is not a bad problem to have. The first thing I noticed with I booted up the laptop was how spectacularly crisp everything is. It's amazing. And having a gtx 580m running in the background means that you can actually play all your fancy games at this high of a resolution and not have to turn down any of the settings.

Starcraft 2 on Ultra? Check

Borderlands totally maxed? Check

Diablo 3 totally maxed? Check

Guild Wars 2 totally maxed? Check (note: GW2 is currently processor locked, so that's actually more of a sign to how good the i7 processor is, but also means that the speeds in GW2 will only get better over time. awesome!)

Even at these settings I'm still getting 40-60 fps in most cases. Could I get higher FPS if I dropped the settings a little? Yes. But there's a certain satisfaction of running a game with everything maxed out that you just can't pass up. Up until this point I had only ever been ruining Starcraft 2 poorly on Medium, it's like I've been living in a cave for the last 4 years and someone finally turned the lights on. I'm never going back.

On more of a physical side, the chiclet keyboard is super nice. It has great tactility to the typing and definitely responds to even my most feverish Starcraft AMPs. (Did I mention if it wasn't for the fact that I work for a living I would probably be a Masters level Zerg?) I would, however, normally use a standard keyboard for gaming, but sometimes you just don't have that option and this one works out great when that's the case. I only have 2 complaints, firstly is the proximity of the F-keys to 'escape.' Given that it's a 15" laptop the board is pretty crammed together and that proximity can make for some annoying accidental key presses if you're not being careful. Secondly is that some genius who designed this board put the SLEEP function key DIRECTLY BETWEEN MUTE AND VOLUME DOWN. Not paying attention when you want to mute an annoying youtube ad? Computer goes to sleep mode. God that's annoying.

All in all it's a great computer. If you're ok parting with over $2k of your hard earned savings you definitely won't be disappointed. You just have to know that the build time can take in the upwards of a month, so even with rush delivery it will take forever to get to you.

Finally here's some short gameplay videos I put together to give you an idea of how it generally plays. Even with the FPS hit from xfire both games were still running above 40fps. Totally Stoked.


Starcraft 2