When the large, wooden crate branded “Origin” arrived at our Lab, we got out our crowbar and a shotgun—one to open the dang thing and the other just in case an alien predator was lurking inside. Once we blasted the box apart, we were not just relieved, we were also a bit disappointed to find an average-looking 17-inch notebook inside. After a bit of testing, though, there was no question—the cleanup of shell fragments was worth it.
There’s nothing extraordinary about the CPU used in this system. The Intel Core i7-2920XM Extreme Edition isn’t different from what you’d find in any high-performance laptop. What’s different is that Origin overclocks the Sandy Bridge proc from its stock 2.5GHz to 4.7GHz. That’s quite a boost, and it showed in our CPU-intensive benchmarks, like Photoshop and Premiere. In these tests, it beat Maingear’s much heavier and more expensive Titan 17, even with its six-core Gulftown processor.
A cranked-up CPU lets the Origin EON17-S blow through computation-intensive tasks.
The graphics card, though, is only overclocked from the standard 575MHz core to 605MHz. That’s not enough to make a substantial difference, and the 2GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M performed pretty much as expected in our graphics-intensive benchmarks. It was no match for Maingear’s SLI configuration—when it comes to gaming graphics, one graphics card can’t compare to two.
Origin is relatively new to the market. It was founded by refugees from Dell’s acquisition of Alienware, and the high price of the system can only be justified by the company’s promise of service and support. You’re not just buying an overclocked system, you’re buying an overclocked system tested by the manufacturer and backed by a warranty. The way semiconductor fabrication works, each individual CPU has a different potential for overclocking, and Origin runs a battery of tests to pick procs with the best overclocking possibilities. This may take some of the Weird Science fun out of overclocking, but should also lower the risk. The company offers some cool customization options, including laser etching of the top of the notebook.
In other regards, the system is a pretty standard high-end gaming laptop. There’s a 17.3-inch, LED-backlit screen running at 1920x1080 resolution. In our side-by-side testing, we found this screen to have somewhat richer and more vibrant colors than its archrival from Maingear. The 6x BD-R drive lets you burn your own Blu-ray discs, something that is likely to come in handy. Also included are two storage drives: one 128GB solid-state drive and a 750GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.
If you dream of the performance boost you can only get by overclocking but are afraid of a DIY approach, Origin’s laptop provides an excellent solution.
Very fast overclocked performance; display offers rich, deep colors.
2.5GHz Core i7-2920XM OC'd to 4.7GHz
128GB SSD, 750GB HDD (7,200rpm)
6x BD-R Burner
OC'd Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M 2GB GDDR5
HDMI out, DVI out, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA/USB, FireWire, fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi, headphone, mic, line-in, S/PDIF optical out, media reader, webcam
8 lbs, 8.6 oz / 11 lbs, 1.6 oz
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
Proshow Producer (sec)
Far Cry 2 (fps)
Call of Duty 4 (fps)
Battery Life (min)
Our zero-point notebook is an Asus G73Jw-A1 with a 1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM, 8GB DDR3/1066, two 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drives, a GeForce GTX 460M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Far Cry 2 tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA; Call of Duty tested at 1680x1050 with 4x AA and 4x anisotropic filtering.