For years, the mantra with gaming laptops has been the same as other gadgets--sleeker, thinner, and more lightweight. And companies have pushed that basically as far as it can go, with Razer's Blade gaming laptop line looking practically indistinguishable from a normal laptop.
Which is why I find it sort of refreshing to see Kevin Wasielewski, CEO of Origin, use the words "relatively thin" in the press release for his company's latest gaming laptops, the updated EON17-X and EON15-X.
Make no mistake, at 1.5" thick the EON15-X and EON17-X are pretty bulky machines, but you're trading convenience for power--a lot of power. How much power? Origin crammed an full-blown desktop Core i7 processor inside these new machines.
Playing with power
Intel's pretty tricky when it comes to labeling their processors, specifically when it comes to laptops. That "Core i7" in the latest and greatest gaming laptop? It's a shadow of a real desktop Core i7. Seriously.
Origin's even got a built-in example to point to. Alongside the new EON15-X and EON17-X, Origin's showing off the revamped EON15-S at CES, which also runs a Core i7 processor. A Core i7-4720HQ laptop processor, to be exact. The Core i7-4720HQ runs at a base speed of 2.6GHz and can dynamically spool up to 3.6GHz on one active core.
Compare that to the EON15-X and EON17-X, which feature the LGA 1150 socket and thus can be loaded with up to an Intel Core i7 4790K, a.k.a. "Devil's Canyon." The quad-core 4790K runs at a base speed of 4GHz and has a Turbo clock speed of 4.4GHz.
That's a drastic difference between two "Intel Core i7 processors."
Sure, you can get mobile processors that approach the power of top-of-the-line desktop processors. Intel's 4940MX has a max turbo clock speed of 4GHz, which is pretty impressive. The difference is that you'd pay over a thousand dollars for just the 4940MX processor, as opposed to $340 for the 4790K. For comparison, the 4720HQ in the updated EON15-S costs around $400.
So Origin fitting desktop LGA 1150 socket technology into a laptop is a pretty huge boon. It allows them to offer way more power at a price equivalent to the mid-range gaming laptop processors.
With great power comes great thermal responsibilities
There's a trade-off, of course. First of all, size. As I said, the EON15-X and EON17-X are relatively hefty machines by modern standards, coming in at approximately 1.5" in height and 7.5-9 pounds (depending on which screen size you choose). That's definitely thicker than the Blade's 0.7", although Alienware's 17 and 18 inch offerings are comparably bulky.
The other problem is heat dispersal. Desktop machines are often huge, with multiple fans installed to maximize airflow and keep those processors cool. Most gamers (myself included) even install aftermarket coolers to help that process along even more.
Cram a desktop processor into a laptop and you're looking at a lot more heat. I know my current Origin laptop runs pretty hot even with a paltry 2.5GHz laptop processor inside, and I'm curious to see how the EON15-X and EON17-X manage temperatures.
Finally, there's the question of whether you even need all this power. Most games are still GPU-limited, not CPU-limited, so the extra processor speed might not help you unless you're doing heavy photo/video rendering or other processor-heavy tasks.
Speaking of graphics cards, you can get up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M with 8GB GDDR5 VRAM in the EON15-X and EON17-X. The updated EON15-S, by contrast, comes with an integrated Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB of VRAM.
Regardless of model, all that power is encased in an attractive, understated case with a single Origin logo on the top. The keyboard on each is fully backlit with N-key rollover, and the laptops (including the updated EON15-S) are all branded "4K-Ready." All three models also feature support for m.2 PCIe drives and up to 32GB of RAM.
We don't have prices or release dates on any of these models yet, but we'll keep you updated. Time to invest in a bigger laptop bag, I guess.