For as long as there have been gaming laptops, there have been budget-friendly gaming laptops. Equipped with low power cards, plastic chassis, and 1080p panels, these systems target the sub-$1,000 market by cutting corners wherever possible. As our Origin EON15-S review demonstrates, more energy efficient GPU options have helped raise performance at this price point, while leaving some unfinished edges.
Not that anything is fatally wrong on paper. The EON15-S boasts an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 1050 Ti, and a Samsung 960 Evo solid state drive with a 1TB data drive. This setup will cost you about $1,360. That makes our review unit affordable, but far from the least expensive around. Does it meet the definition of budget-friendly, or are there better laptops waiting in the wings?
Just like every other laptop
Origin’s desktops come in a variety of custom and off-the-shelf enclosures, but its laptops are often built in a mass-produced Clevo chassis, and the EON15-S is no exception. It’s called the N850HK1, and it doesn’t feel particularly premium. It flexes dramatically, even on the keyboard and lower chassis, where it should hold firm. The screen has a lot of bend to it, which can be concerning, as the hinge for the screen doesn’t seem like it would hold up to any amount of abuse. It even makes a scratching noise at its most extended.
The Acer Predator 15, on the other hand, offers a sturdy construction without bends or panel gaps to speak of. Off-the-shelf laptop makers aren’t necessarily interested in longevity, and it’s an area where big brands like Lenovo and Dell can afford to spend time and money researching improvements. That’s not always the case, as the Dell Inspiron 7567 has similar issues with bending, but they aren’t nearly as dramatic.
Origin’s branding is minimal, with a logo on the back shell, and the brand name under the screen. Normally that would’ve been a positive note, but with so many machines available in the same chassis with the same parts, it had the opposite effect. The system doesn’t feel unique. We like Origin’s design and customization, when it has chance to wield its talents. Unfortunately, this chassis didn’t provide the company opportunity to spice up the EON15-S.
Squeezing in ports
Despite its compact footprint, the Origin EON15-S features plenty of wired connections. The left side carries a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, two Mini DisplayPort outputs, and an Ethernet connection. On the right side, Origin has added dedicated 3.5mm audio in and out, plus another USB 3.0, and a USB 2.0 port, for a mouse.
That’s above average for a gaming laptop as thin as this, and part of that is thanks to the odd angle on the machine’s sides. Instead of flat, or rounded, sides on the laptop, the left and right panels cut in at a sharp angle towards the bottom of the laptop. The ports sit outward at a 90-degree angle, so each one has a plastic housing that juts out from the angled sidepieces. It’s not an attractive way to make sure you get all the ports you want, but it’s certainly efficient.
An odd keyboard
The Origin EON15-S had a full keyboard layout with a numpad, an increasingly common feature on gaming laptops. The keys had deep travel and solid tactile feedback, without much noise at all. That’s a good balance for a system that’s meant for gaming, but may end up in the library as well. There are four RGB lighting zones, and the light comes through the symbols on the keys as much as it splays out from the edges. It’s bright, but isn’t the neatest arrangement.
The keys seem to be just slightly less wide than they are tall, and we found ourselves mis-typing quite a bit.
That said, there’s something off about the EON15-S keyboard. The keys seem to be just slightly less wide than they are tall, and we found ourselves mis-typing quite a bit while using the system. That’s the cost of fitting a numpad on a 15-inch system, and it’s something users will just have to get used to.
On the other hand, the Acer Predator 15 has a great keyboard and good touchpad, without sacrificing elsewhere. Dell claims an equal honor with the Inspiron 7567, which sport input devices that compete with the best laptops out there. It’s certainly not a necessity, but it’s hard to argue there isn’t value lost when the competitors are on top of their game.
The touchpad is spacious and welcoming, a feature that benefits Windows 10 touch gestures. There are two distinct clicking buttons at the bottom, with a fingerprint sensor sitting in between. It doesn’t work very well, but that’s not Origin’s fault. We’ve only come across one Windows fingerprint scanner that’s sharp enough to work consistently, on the Huawei Matebook X. Every other option has proven as finicky as the Origin’s.
Easy on the eyes
The EON15-S is only available with a 1080p screen, the right resolution choice for a budget-friendly gaming laptop. We used a Datacolor Spyder 5 to measure the screen’s potential in a totally objective sense, and liked what we found.
While the screen’s stats aren’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s more than capable enough for our tastes. Contrast was a strong point, coming within spitting distance of the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo Yoga 720’s measurements. Those are some of the highest-contrast screens we’ve tested, so that’s high praise.
The Origin’s screen checked off a number of boxes when it came to display quality
In fact, the Origin’s screen checked off a number of boxes when it came to display quality. Its 312-nit maximum brightness was high enough to work in any environment, and its 72 percent AdobeRGB coverage fell right in line with most screens that aren’t meant for photographers and editors. Its gamma was slightly off at 2 instead of an ideal 2.2, which means the image is a little washed out, but that’s a common problem for laptop displays, and is easily correctable with calibration.
In practice, the screen is decent for gaming, although the low gamma rating gets in the way during gameplay more so than elsewhere. It gives the screen a dulled look, like viewing through a thin layer of paper, unless you drop the gamma setting in the game itself. Once that’s taken care of, details are sharp and colors pop.
Tough on the ears
The speakers are loud, but like most laptop audio solutions, don’t sound great at high volume. Anything past a low volume setting is likely to cause distortion and loss of detail, particularly when watching an action movie, or playing a game. They also don’t provide enough bass to support true immersion in modern games, a big knock to the viewing and gaming experience. Headphones will improve the experience greatly.
To be fair, that’s an issue that’s going to plague almost any laptop you purchase. Even the Dell XPS 15, one of our favorite at the screen size, suffers from poor quality speakers that don’t accurately reproduce sound or video, let alone gaming. We even described the speakers on the Acer Predator 15 as “muddy and abrasive,” so you’re unlikely to find a gaming laptop, or laptop at all, that sports solid built-in audio.
All too familiar CPU
At this point we’re very familiar with Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ, a four-core CPU with Hyper-Threading, a 2.8GHz base clock, and a 3.8GHz boost clock. In our review unit, it was paired up with 8GB of memory, the most basic option Origin offers.
No real surprises here. The system kept up the pace with other similarly-equipped systems. While the graphs may look a little dramatic, all of these laptops fall within a fairly small range of each other, particularly in day-to-day use.
In fact, in a few situations, it took a lead over similarly-equipped laptops. It stole a high score from its competitors in the Geekbench multi-core test, while taking second in the single-core lineup to the Dell XPS 15. It fell right in the middle of the pack in our Handbrake test, which on identical CPUs becomes more a test of keeping under the thermal threshold so performance doesn’t suffer. Both the XPS 15 and Inspiron 7567 pulled out faster scores.
Ultimately, it’s hard to tell the difference between this laptop and any other with a Core i7-7700HQ in it except at full gallop.
Store it away
The Origin EON15-S is available with a variety of storage options, and our review unit came equipped with a 256GB Samsung 960 Evo, with a 1TB FireCuda flash-accelerated HDD for extra storage.
We’ve seen these drives before, and for good reason. They both provided solid performance without breaking the bank, with plenty of overall storage for a fairly budget-friendly laptop.
Granted, higher-end laptops are beginning to offer much faster PCIe SSDs, and it’s always nice to see that sort of premium offering in a gaming laptop. The Origin’s 960 EVO absolutely smokes the competition too, pushing 2,000MBps read speeds and 1500MBps write speeds.
That said, the upgrade from SATA to PCIe isn’t one you’re going to experience frequently in daily use. Copying large files from the SSD to the data drive in a laptop is a common enough occurrence, however, to make it a point of consideration, unless the system is destined for a life of constant gaming and not much else. Even then, keeping an older title while installing a new one can be a nice way to save data on a metered connection.
Will any GPU do?
Of course, the Origin EON15-S is a gaming laptop, and as such, it arrived packing a GTX 1050 Ti. That’s not exactly a high-power option, but from our experience, enough to perform decently at 1080p. Before digging into real-world gaming scores, we ran it through the 3DMark synthetic benchmark tests.
While the EON-15S held its own in the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the difference between its GTX 1050 Ti and the GTX 1060, found in some similarly priced laptops, starts to show. The slightly more expensive Acer Predator 15 boasts many improvements over the Origin outside of gaming, and its GTX 1060 puts some space between it and the more consumer and budget-oriented systems.
A laptop that plays games
Now that our synthetic benchmarks are out of the way, let’s see how it fares in our test suite of actual games. Since our review unit included a 1080p screen, we only ran our tests at that resolution.
Despite its underwhelming performance promise, the EON15-S delivered solid frame rates at its chosen resolution. Even in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the most demanding game in the suite, the system managed to keep above 30 frames per second with the settings on high.
It’s important to note the gaps between the three mobile GPUs tested for these results. The GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti-powered systems fall fairly close to each other, while laptops like the Razer Blade with a GTX 1060 take a much stronger lead.
We typically consider a laptop with a GTX 1060 a “gaming laptop,” as systems with that GPU tend to produce consistent, playable frame rates at 1080p in a lot of modern games. On the other hand, a system with a GTX 1050 Ti is more of a “laptop that can play games,” and the reason is clear to see in our results. It falls behind in a meaningful way, dropping 10 or 15 frames per second compared to the GTX 1060-equipped laptop. When the goal is 60 FPS, that difference can mean the world.
Fits in your bag, won’t last through the day
In an age of increasingly slim laptops, the Origin EON15-S still keeps up with a much thinner footprint than most powerful gaming laptops. Unfortunately, the GTX 1050 Ti isn’t necessarily a powerful gaming GPU, and it has shown up in consumer laptops not intended for gaming that are much slimmer. The odd angles and jaunty design may have trouble squeezing into slim laptop sleeves, instead of weight and size.
Portability isn’t just about whether it fits in your backpack, of course. Battery life is a major consideration, and an area where gaming laptops tend to fall way behind. The EON15-S has a decently sized 62 watt-hour battery, but optimization and component power plays a large role.
These graphs are almost the same as the graphical performance results, and for good reason. More power for gaming means shorter battery life, although the Acer Predator 15 only lasted an hour or so less in the 1080p video loop than our EON15-S. Whether that’s a tradeoff you’re willing to make or not, there’s a big stamina benefit to opting for a laptop like the Dell XPS 15, with a GTX 1050.
There wasn’t much to report in terms of bundled software. Like Origin’s desktops, the brands laptops come out of the box without anything extra installed, which is just the way we like it. This may be the only area where there’s actually a difference between Origin’s take on the N850HK1 and other manufacturers, which may include antivirus and software trials to help bring down the cost.
Origin’s warranty covers the internal components for one year after purchase, and covers shipping for the first 45 days if there’s an issue with the system. It also includes lifetime phone-based technical support.
Origin EON15-S Compared To
Origin typically builds its gaming desktops with a deft hand and an eye to current trends. The company’s laptops, on the other hand, fail to excite us more often than not. For right around $1,300, the Origin EON15-S provides typical performance for its Core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1050 Ti, but that’s not saying much, particularly when other companies are shipping the exact same system.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes, including purchasing the same laptop elsewhere. Identical systems are available from brands you’ve probably never heard of, for less, and that’s just the start. There are any number of GTX 1050 Ti powered systems like the Dell Inspiron 7567 that offer up unique features and better build quality with the same internals.
There are even non-gaming laptops with the GTX 1050, like the Dell XPS 15, that scored high marks for design, panel quality, and battery life, and have no trouble firing up some Overwatch at 1080p as well.
How long will it last?
The parts under the hood are likely to continue powering a 1080p panel for some medium-high setting gaming for quite some time, but that’s not where our concerns with system longevity arise. Instead, it’s the flexible panel and chassis that have us questioning whether the EON15-S can stand the test of time.
Should you buy it?
No. Origin PC produces some of our favorite gaming desktops, but there’s nothing special or even unique about this laptop. When the price is weighed against its performance, it just doesn’t make sense.