Origin PC EVO17-S Laptop review: An uncompromising desktop replacement

You don't need to sacrifice mobility to have enthusiast-class gaming and productivity performance, thanks to the folks over at Origin PC.

9

When you need to work or play on the go, there is no substitute for a good laptop computer. While the masses continue to buy the lowest cost options from big box retailers every couple of years, power users and serious gamers tend to flock towards robust ultrabooks and dedicated gaming laptops. They have a much longer effective life and are simply capable of providing the horsepower needed for work or play. The folks over at Origin PC sent over their new EVO17-S model for me to try out and after a couple of weeks using the laptop, I believe that the company is offering a desktop replacement that is nearly free from the compromises that builders often make to fit the smaller form factor.

Checking off all the boxes

The EVO17-S model I received is absolutely loaded. It comes with a 17.3-inch IPS display that has a 4K native resolution (3840x2160), a matte coating, and offers G-SYNC adaptive sync for gaming. An Intel Core i9-8950HK 6-core processor with Hyper-Threading is at the heart of the machine and is the only CPU in the 8th generation Coffee Lake lineup to receive the i9 designation. It has a base frequency of 2.9GHz and can turbo boost itself up to 4.8GHz across one or two of its cores. The laptop also came loaded with 16GB of DDR4 3000MHz RAM, a notable step up from the DDR3 2133MHz options that come with most 8th generation Intel laptops.

Origin PC decided to pair this CPU with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB GDDR5 memory to handle gaming chores. On the storage side of things, this model offers speed and heaps of storage space. A 500GB Samsung 970 EVO NVME SSD holds the Windows 10 operating system and your apps, allowing for lighting fast boots and the assurance that storage will not be the bottleneck for any of your work loads. An additional 2.5-inch Seagate Barracuda platter drive with 2TB of space is also included. Like the rest of the parts, this drive is among the fastest in it class thanks to a large cache of flash memory that boosts its read speed for the most commonly accessed data.

The rest of the laptop is outfitted with all the amenities that you would expect, like USB Type-C port, USB 3.1 ports, media card reader, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, webcam and even a fingerprint scanner. The unit I received was adorned with one of Origin PC’s special paint job options, in this case, a design they refer to as Low-Poly Blue.

How to make a strong first impression

The EVO17-S was shipped to me in a sturdy wooden crate. Origin PC offers this option for all buyers at an additional cost for those who want peace of mind for trans-continental or trans-ocean shipping distances. When this thing arrived at my house, I assumed it was holding the Ark of the Covenant. I backed the screws out of the crate’s lid and carefully removed it, holding my face away in case ghostly apparitions flew out and tried to melt off my face. Once I determined that I didn’t melt, I saw that the crate holds your standard cardboard laptop box. Inside the box, I found a carrying case for the laptop, Origin PC t-shirt, and a very nice mouse mat with stitched edges. Under all this was the AC adapter and a box that holds driver discs, manuals, and a USB drive used to recover the system to its factory condition. The EVO17-S is by no means a cheap product and the packaging certainly reflects this. Other than the shirt, the extras were of high quality and will be very useful to the end user.

You only have to handle the EVO17-S for a few moments to realize it is constructed of premium materials and has a well thought out design. The bonus blue paint job looked very good and there was no overspray. It was a serious step up from a laptop skin and helps to make the thing stand out when you are out and about (if you care about that kind of thing). The blue paint job and thin profile work together to differentiate it from the ocean of thick black and red gaming laptops from most other OEMs. It has a large touchpad with fingerprint scanner and a RGB backlit keyboard that sported a large type font that was easy to read and let the light shine through clearly.

Putting it through the paces

This thing is built to work hard and play hard, so I immediately began loading it up with some games to test. The titles I went with were chosen because they look good and have reliable, built-in benchmarking tools that make comparisons at home easy to do. I chose Shadow of the Tomb Raider in particular as it is arguably the single most demanding PC game currently available. Forza Horizon 4 makes an appearance thanks to its gorgeous looks and amazing optimization. If you mix a powerful laptop with well-designed software, can you expect eye-popping results?

The benchmarks listed below are averages from five runs using both 4K and 1080p resolutions. As 4K gaming is still incredibly difficult to power, even on the most expensive desktop PCs, it is incredibly likely that most users will opt for 1080p when playing games that need rock-solid framerates. Additionally, the display on the EVO17-S does very well with 1080p, offering near-perfect scaling for a resolution that is only ¼ the number of pixels as 4K.

As you can see from the benchmark results, the EVO17-S is up to the task of heavy gaming. Outside of the minimum frametimes in HItman (which is normal for that benchmark and not indicative of how the game performs), everything was pretty smooth. In the case of Forza Horizon 4, if you opt to use the game's default Dynamic Optimization option, playing the game at a locked 4K60fps is possible. If you pair the Xbox One S controller to the laptop with Bluetooth and dive into Forza Horizon 4, you can have an experience that fully eclispses what's possible from the Xbox One X version of the game. For the games that cannot hold a steady 60fps, the EVO17-S has NVIDIA's G-SYNC adaptive sync. In practice, G-SYNC remains rather flaky, with functionality and compatibility for certain use scenarios changing with each new driver and Windows update. Some games used it correctly and it made things worse in others. This is no fault of the EVO17-S, but rather G-SYNC itself.

Chill when it counts

While benchmarking the laptop and running stress tests, I made a note of what kind of frequencies I was getting during extended periods. Most laptops will throttle CPU frequency when temperatures get too high. The EVO17-S has lots of ventilation and strong fans. At no time during the game benchmarks or extended AIDA64 stress testing did I ever see the turbo frequency of the Core i9-8950HK falter. When at maximum load, I saw an all-core turbo boost that held steady at 3.9GHz. While the unit did get very hot and would not be comfortable sitting in your lap under such stress, it never once had to sacrifice performance. Users who do lots of rendering or encoding jobs will be very happy to know that they get the speeds they are paying for.

As great as the cooling system performs, it is very loud. Anyone who uses laptops for serious work loads will expect this, so it is not really a problem. The EVO17-S was only a hair louder than the Razer Blade Stealth I reviewed earlier this year, and that laptop did not have a discrete GPU pumping an additional 125W+ of heat into the chassis. Surprisingly, I found my PS4 Pro to be louder when it was trying to power through Red Dead Redemption 2 than the EVO17-S was when it was tearing through Forza Horizon 4 at 4K.

Battery life was acceptable. No one buying this unit can reasonably expect to make use of its power without it being plugged in to the wall, but it will give you several hours of light to intermediate use during the day if needed. Expect just under an hour of battery life if you plan on going whole hog into AAA 4K gaming. The charging was pretty quick and I had no issues with the power connector.

Wrapping it up

If you need a strong laptop for work or gaming and you value build quality and performance, the EVO17-S fits the bill. The cooling system might be the star of the show here, as it allowed the collection of enthusiast parts to work their magic without the typical throttling you see in most laptops. The EVO17-S is no casual gamer. If you adjust settings accordingly, 4K gaming at 60fps is possible across many titles. 1080p scaling works very well and the Core i9/GTX 1070 combo ensure that any game you load up will run like butter at that resolution. The inclusion of the Samsung 970 EVO NVME SSD ensured that everything I did with the system felt snappy.

I attempted to configure the EVO17-S on the Origin PC website and once I selected all the options I had, the price added up to nearly $3500 shipped. This puts it out of the price range of most buyers, but is not out of line with the going rates for ultra-premium laptops. You can spend much more with Apple and not get this level of hardware (or gaming prowess). Customers who make a living using their laptops will have no issue paying a premium for a premium tool. Time is money and the EVO17-S will not waste any time powering through work loads thanks to its efficient cooling and enthusiast-class parts. If you want a premium experience, Origin PC’s EVO17-S should be on your shortlist when you start shopping for a laptop.


This review is based on hardware that was provided by Origin PC. You can buy the EVO17-S directly from their website.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

Review for
Origin PC EVO17-S
9
Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Enthusiast-class parts
  • No throttling under heavy load
  • Vibrant display
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Comes in the same crate as the Ark of the Covenant
Cons
  • Can run loud under load
  • Pricey
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 29, 2018 7:45 AM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Origin PC EVO17-S Laptop review: An uncompromising desktop replacement

    • reply
      November 29, 2018 7:51 AM

      I certainly wouldn't want it on my lap when it turbos up to 4.8 ghz.

      • reply
        November 29, 2018 7:52 AM

        Noninvasive vasectomies are a big thing these days!

      • reply
        November 29, 2018 8:56 AM

        IDK, Forza Horizon 4 at 4K60 is almost worth dealing with cooked dick.

      • reply
        November 29, 2018 4:51 PM

        Honestly one of the pluses of my Surface that I didn't realize til using it. No heat generating component is in contact with me when using it on my lap.

    • reply
      November 29, 2018 9:00 AM

      Look at those lines. So edgy. The Reaper of laptops.

      Sigh...

      I want a high powered laptop with the aesthetics of a nice Airbook. Is that too much to ask?

    • reply
      November 29, 2018 9:41 AM

      did you get to keep it? or did they make you send it back after review?

    • rms
      reply
      November 29, 2018 3:47 PM

      What about your capture card issues you mentioned in the stream yesterday, any luck on that

    • reply
      November 29, 2018 11:07 PM

      I dunno what you're using for those benchmark graphs but they're hard to read embedded in the article and when they blow up they look blurry :(