Lotta power, little package; upgrade friendly.
Small keyboard; gets hot; compact size offset by huge power brick.
Origin PC’s Eon11-S isn’t the first 11.6-inch gaming notebook to come knocking— Alienware kicked off the category in 2010 with its small-but-mighty M11x . But times have changed since the M11x’s debut, hardware and thermals have advanced, and thus Origin’s Eon11-S is no less impressive an accomplishment. Packed into the 11.2x8.1x1.4‑inch chassis are an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor and a GeForce GT 650M GPU. They’re joined by a 256GB SSD in the standard 2.5-inch trim and 8GB of DDR3/1333 RAM across two slot‑driven SO-DIMMs. Incidentally, all the innards are accessible via a bottom panel that pops off with ease, making future upgrades possible.
The Eon11-S comes in either a “Traditional” design, with a simple matte-black textured lid, or this “A-Panel” design, in either matte red or black, for the same price.
At present, upgrades are hardly called for. The Eon11-S ran circles around our 16.6-inch zero-point gaming notebook in the content creation benchmarks, with gains of more than 60 percent. In gaming, the two were a little more closely matched, with the zero-point’s GTX 460M having a slight, but measurable advantage. Nevertheless, the Eon11-S proved its gaming mettle, with scores of 43.6fps and 66fps in Far Cry 2 and Call of Duty 4, respectively. That was with a resolution of 1680x1050 on an external display (native is 1366x768). When we ran the more modern and graphically challenging STALKER: CoP at 16x10 res and the Ultra setting, the Eon11-S achieved a decent 22.9fps.
A more apt competitor for the Eon11-S might be Acer’s Timeline M3 (reviewed July 2012)—a 15.6-inch gaming Ultrabook. The Eon11-S weighs less by almost a pound—that is until you account for the power bricks; then the two weigh nearly the same, so honking is the Eon11-S’s PSU. In performance the distinctions are more clear-cut. From Premiere to ProShow to Photoshop and MainConcept, the Eon11-S’s 2.6GHz quad-core CPU was like a schoolyard bully wailing on the Timeline M3’s growth-stunted 1.7GHz dual-core. We’re talking beatings of 100–156 percent. In games, where the M3’s GT 640M takes over, the Eon11-S showed a more modest 15 percent advantage. Still, it’s the obvious choice if a super-portable gaming notebook is what you’re after.
The Eon11-S lacks the flashy keyboard backlighting and other LED accents that characterized Alienware’s M11x, but it comes through where it counts: in performance.
Capable as it is, the wee Eon11-S is not without tradeoffs. While it has the same 1366x768 screen res as the Timeline M3, the Eon11-S’s keyboard suffers some from the smaller footprint. The compressed layout can feel a little cramped, particularly for larger-handed folk. At least it doesn’t have the shallow keypress and maddening touchpad of an Ultrabook. The Eon11-S can also get pretty hot when running full tilt. A sizable vent on the left side of the machine expels a rush of hot air that could rival a space heater. Finally, battery life isn’t incredible. Three hours–plus is pretty decent for a standard-size gaming notebook, but it doesn’t come close to the five hours achieved by the Timeline M3. But all of these issues are just what come with the territory when you cram serious hardware into a small form factor. What you get in return is powerful rig that’s also amazingly portable, and we applaud OriginPC for filling that niche.
|CPU||2.6GHz Intel Core-i7 3720QM|
|RAM ||8GB DDR3/1333, dual-channel|
|Chipset ||Intel HM65|
|GPU ||Nvidia GeForce GT 650M w/Optimus|
|Storage||Samsung 830 Series 256GB SSD|
|Connectivity ||802.11n/g, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, headphone, mic, 2x USB 3.0, powered USB 2.0, 1.3MP webcam, 9‑in‑1 media reader, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Lap / Carry||3 lbs, 11.3 oz / 5 lbs, 5.1 oz|
|Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)||899||540|
|Photoshop CS3 (sec)||131||69|
|ProShow Producer (sec)||876||525|
|Far Cry 2 (fps)||48.5||43.6 (-10.1%)|
|Call of Duty 4 (fps)||62.2||66.0|
|Battery Life (min)||96||190|
Our zero-point notebook is an Asus G73Jw-A1 with a 1.73 Ghz Intel Core i7-740QM, 8GB DDR3/1066, two 500 GB Seagate 7,200rpm, hard drives, a GeForce GTX 460M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x 1050 with 4xAA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x 1050 with 4xAA and 4x anisotropic filtering.