Origin EVO15-S Review: Thin, Powerful NVIDIA Max-Q Gaming On The Go
Origin EVO15-S: Design and Build Quality
Once we made it into the crate and removed the merchandise, we could see this laptop was a little different. Our Origin EVO15-S model came with what appears to be a direct print from a flat bed printer with a polyhedron theme. The print adds some flare to the laptop for sure, which, along with the back-lit keys, really adds to the wow factor when first unboxed. If this look doesn't do it for you though, you can chose between different themes and colors, or upload a custom image. Origin even offers custom laser etching if you'd like.
At 14.9-inches wide, the EVO15-S is standard size for a gaming laptop of this caliber. What's different though is Origin managed to squeeze a healthy amount of horsepower into a chassis that is less than an inch tall, thanks in-part to NVIDIA's Max-Q design. To power everything, Origin has included a embedded 4 cell Polymer 55WH battery. Gaming laptops have never had great battery life but, the EVO15-S does come with native support for hybrid switchable graphics technology. So, depending on the load generated by client software applications, the laptop will seamlessly switch between two graphics adapters in order to provide either maximum performance or minimum power draw from the graphics engine that's engaged. In other words, when you need power it's there, but when you're idle, power saving features of Intel Integrated Graphics kick in.
The base of the EVO15-S chassis is essentially nothing but vents. This is obviously part of the Max-Q design and in comparison to other Max-Q models we've seen, this is actually one of the better implementations. We have seen laptops where the size of the keyboard is reduced to create room for extra fan intake ports. The problem with that design is the keyboard is compromised and typing doesn't feel as natural. The downward facing intake vents will allow all the airflow to be directed under the laptop and vented out the sides. Of course this raises it's own problems. If anything is blocking the airflow under the case, then you could run into overheating issues.
In the rear of the chassis is where all the hardware resides and all you have between you and that silicon is a handful of Phillips screws. This means future upgrades will be as easy as removing a couple of screws and adding or swapping out whatever you want, making any future-proofing a breeze. While you can configure the EVO15-S a number of different ways, our model came with a Intel Core-i7 8750H (6-core, 12-threaded) processor, 16GB 2666MHz memory, a 512GB Samsung 970 PRO NVMe M.2 SSD, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Max-Q) and a 2TB secondary HDD.
The 15.6" display on the EVO15-S comes in three favors; you have a 1080p IPS display, 1080p 144Hz display and a UHD 4K display. Ours was the middle of the road, 1080p display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. This is the option some hardcore gamers should be foaming at the mouth for, for a smoother gaming experience. At 1080p the GTX 1070 (Max-Q) should be able to pull off reasonably high frame rates in most games at 1080p but 144Hz is going to be a stretch for newer titles. Overall image quality of the panel is good as well, with decent brightness and contrast for an IPS display, but with a small bit of backlight bleed visible in darker scenes.
Just below the display are two front firing speakers. Laptop speakers are never a make, or break for us. There's just no easy way to accommodate quality drivers with the size limitations of a laptop. So we generally give them a pass. We are also giving the EVO15-S a pass. The speakers sound thin, have little bass, but are adequately loud for a laptop. When configuring your machine there's an option to upgrade to an enhanced audio card. Even then though, the only improvement will be heard via headphones, or external audio gear.
The EVO-S has a full sized keyboard with a numeric pad on the right hand side. The keys themselves felt comfortable enough and were extremely responsive during our testing. One of the main highlights of the keyboard area though is its RGB backlighting. Each key has its own RGB LED under the keycap. However, users don’t have individual control of the lighting for every key. Instead, the keyboard is broken down into three zones; left, middle and right. You can see the exact breakdown of the zones in Origin’s Control Center software, which we’ll show you on the next page.
Under the keyboard is the trackpad which is both spacious and responsive to gestures. The only other thing to note is there's an integrated biometric area fingerprint reader on the trackpad. Most companies have taken the fingerprint reader and moved it off the trackpad to give a larger tracking area. Even with it directly on the pad though we didn't have any issues with navigation.
When it comes to connectivity the EVO15-S over-delivers. On the right side of the laptop you have audio jacks, a USB 3.0 port, a 6-in-1 card reader, a LAN port and a Kensington security slot. The left side is where all the magic is (though we really do appreciate the 6-in-1 card reader). On this side of the machine you have a power port, a HDMI port, a pair of Mini DisplayPorts, two USB (Type-C) ports and two more USB 3.0 ports. The connectivity options here are pretty much endless. With the three USB 3.0 ports you can easily connect either a HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift head set and the USB 3.1 Type-C port offers transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps.
The only downside we can see is the lack of Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt is in high demand right now and for good reason. It offers speeds 4x faster than USB Type-C and is the protocol used for add-ons such as external graphics docking stations. However, the EVO15-S already comes with a hell of a graphics card. So the machine has enough raw power to be a viable option for years. The lack of Thunderbolt 3 just makes it somewhat less future-proof perhaps, versus some other gaming notebooks on the market.
Just above the display is a built-in 2.0M FHD video camera. We tested the camera using Skype and the results were top notch. One thing we would have liked to have seen though is a privacy shutter. Being able to close the camera for privacy is a feature many business class notebooks are starting to include as standard equipment. While we might not need the same level of security outside of the office it's still nice to know you can block any prying eyes from trying to turn our life into the Truman Show.
We already know the EVO15-S is going to be one of the faster laptops we have tested, based on its specs alone, but we have a lot more to check out before we can give it our stamp of approval. On with the software side of things first, then we'll get to some benchmarking...