Origin PC Shows Off High-End Notebooks and the “Not-a-Steam-Machine” Omegaby Jarred Walton on January 13, 2015 7:00 AM EST
CES now over, which means for a lot of the editors we can finally sit down and write about some of the stuff we saw during the week. If you follow me on Twitter, you were able to see a bunch of the products I looked at in pseudo-real-time, but Tweet limitations mean there’s often far more to be said. So rolling back to last Wednesday, let’s go over my meeting with Origin PC.
This was the first time I was able to go hands on with the new Clevo laptops. The designs have been updated since the last generation, with some minor to moderate tweaks in terms of aesthetics. Perhaps more importantly, they Clevo ditched the awful (IMO) trackpads from the last generation, so there's no "tribal tattoo" this time.
For the mainstream mobile segment, Origin was showing the Clevo P650SG, which they call the EON15-S. It’s the update to the P150SM more or less, with support for up to GTX 980M. This is still running Intel’s HM87 Mobile Haswell platform, but of course standard voltage and quad-core Broadwell hasn’t launched yet so that’s to be expected at the high-end. The CPU is the i7-4720HQ, and the chassis has support for two M.2 SATA drives (or two M.2 PCIe drives) along with two 2.5” drive bays.
Origin also says the laptop has “4K gaming support with 4K Ready external display”; 3K and 4K 15.6” displays are available on the market, but for now it doesn't appear Origin will be offering the EON15-S with those; I believe the included 1080p display was wide viewing angle at least, which is likely sufficient for most users. I didn’t have a lot of time to really get a feel for the laptop, but while the keyboard looks pretty much unchanged the touchpad was much more responsive than the last P157SM that I tested, and it is using a Synaptics touchpad. The new EON15-S is also 36% thinner (1.13”) and 25% lighter (5.5 lbs.) than the previous model, which is a welcome change.
For those who are looking for extreme performance, Origin PC has two new notebooks that have desktop CPUs, including support for the Devil's Canyon i7-4790K. Origin calls these the 15.6” EON15-X and the 17.3” EON17-X, and they use the Clevo P750ZM and P770ZM, respectively. Overclocking is apparently supported, but only up to 4.5 gigahertz – though that is on all four CPU cores. Of course battery life will take a hit, with or without overclocking, so these are very much transportable laptops rather than something that you could use unplugged for a long period of time.
Other features are similar to the P650SG: dual M.2 PCIe drives with dual 2.5” drives for HDD/SDD use. The laptops all support four SO-DIMMs for up to 32GB RAM, and Origin plans to ship 1080p IPS displays in these systems (though it might take a bit longer to get in sufficient supply of the 17.3” IPS displays; the model they showed was still using a TN panel). Also note that all three models have dropped support for optical drives, so if you need an optical drive you’ll have to look at other options. The EON15-X measures 1.4” thick and weighs 7.49 lbs. so it’s not exactly light, but it is a reduction compared to the previous model. EON17-X meanwhile sees some larger changes, reducing the thickness by 37.5% (1.52” thick now) and it weighs 8.59 lbs. All of the EON notebooks also support full color configurable RGB zoned backlighting.
Origin also carries MSI based laptops now, with Origin PC branding. They had the new GS60 based notebook on display, the EVO15-S, sporting the GTX 970M. This model was also equipped with a 4K 3840x2160 panel, which is one step up from the 2880x1620 model I reviewed last year. I don't expect cooling and battery life has improved much since the 870M MSI variant I tested, though it’s possible firmware tweaks have helped. Regardless, this is still a nice looking notebook and the 970M should offer more performance with perhaps slightly lower power requirements.
All of these notebooks are available for order now and should ship in the near future. Origin PC systems tend to cost a lot of money and they list the starting price at around $1850; that includes the 980M on the new EON15-S, but that's with 8GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. A single 480GB PCIe SSD and 16GB DDR3-1600 (and no HDD) will result in a price of $2406. As for the EON15-X, the base price includes the 970M and an i5-4460S, which seems pointless as anyone after a desktop processor will probably want something significantly faster than mobile options. With a 980M, 16GB RAM, 480GB PCIe SSD, and an i7-4790K, the price jumps to $2874. The EON17-X is slightly more at $2906 with the same components, though again note that the display at this time isn't an IPS panel.
In short, Origin PC provides a premium laptop experience for dedicated gamers that have enough cash to afford the fastest systems. Origin does offer some free aesthetic alterations to their notebooks at least (multiple colors are available for the top cover) and they provide lifetime 24/7 US-based phone technical support for customers. Laptops that support overclocking also receive "free" professional tuning, though I personally am hesitant to recommend overclocking of any laptop as they already tend to run hot and loud with this level of performance; YMMV.
One final item to quickly mention is the upcoming Origin Omega. This was previously supposed to be a Steam Machine when Valve first launched the platform, but delays to the Steam Machine platform (ostensibly due to controller modifications) have delayed that long enough that many companies are choosing to ship the PCs with Windows. That’s the situation with the Omega, a system with support for liquid cooling and up to two GTX 980 or Titan Black GeForce cards in SLI. Pricing will depend heavily on the configuration, with availability planned for this quarter.
Source: Origin PC
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Kevin G - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkI was excited about the case until I noticed that the hot swap bays were simply a Thermaltake enclosure. I'm a fan of hot swap bays and in a home theater environment they make sense for various RAID implementations but I'd find them more effective if they were more integrated. Using a 3rd part enclosure in a 5.25" bay is better than nothing but I'd prefer hot swap 3.5" bays for larger capacity hard drives.
Lonyo - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkWho would ever have seen that coming. "Steam Machines" are just PCs, and now that "Steam Machines" are in HL3 mode, people are just releasing reasonable spec gaming PCs.
I am shocked. Shocked I say! Imagine if they could have just done that anyway.
Lonyo - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkSomething like this from May 2014:
hpascoa - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkI must say I'm a little disappointed with that "Not a Steam Machine" from Origin. For a high-end "custom" builder, there is very little custom about that system, at least from what can be seen on the outside.
Looking at the pictures, I see:
- Silverstone GD05 case - http://silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=241&...
- Thermaltake Max 5 Quad SATA HDD Rack - http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Storage/Rack_/_/C_00...
- Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard - http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/all-in-o...
- Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/xbox-360...
Other than the stamped Origin logo on the front of the case, that system is pretty much off the shelf. For the price premium they will certainly charge for it, I would expect something a little more custom. At least internal receivers for the RF components should have been built into the case, but the USB dongles are clearly visible hanging off the back of the case in the pictures.
chizow - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkI do find it funny that Steam's attempt to usurp Windows in the gaming OS market has given rise to....a bunch of really cool SFF Windows gaming PCs. Can't say I'm disappointed, the last thing PC gaming needed was another OS/ecosystem/API (and that goes for Mantle, too).
$70 OEM Windows license makes SteamOS pointless, glad the movement has literally lost "steam" but I am sure Valve won't go down without a fight. I am sure they are busy hiring their best modders to finally get around to releasing HL3 as a SteamOS exclusive....
MTRougeau - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkDidn't Valve say that releasing any game as a SteamOS "exclusive" would never happen? http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2013/11/4/5065294/v...
chizow - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkLOL, even in that article they acknowledge doing the exact same thing with HL2 and the original Steam client..but its "not their style." Honestly that article is just a whole lot of non-confirmation from someone that doesn't even matter in the conversation who woudn't even talk about HL3 directly. Until Newell goes on record saying it, or the game launches on multiple platforms, I'll remain skeptical as that is the ONLY thing that would entice anyone to bother with SteamOS in the first place.
MTRougeau - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkEh, it would earn them a TON of ill will if they were to do something like that now, which is why it will never happen. SteamOS still has a long way to go. Valve have steadily convinced devs to port their games over to Linux/SteamOS over the past year, but it's a long process. I would expect it to take years considering how entrenched Windows is in PC game development. However, Microsoft seems to be doing quite a bit of backpedaling with Windows 10, which is great for everyone, and makes an open platform a less pressing issue than it was right after Windows 8 first came out.
chizow - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkTying HL2 to Steam client earned them a ton of ill-will as well, but it was a gambit by Newell that ultimately paid off by giving him the initial install-base he needed to launch his digital distribution system at a time when the client was a steaming pile of bloatware (yes, that reference was common at the time) and broadband still wasn't as accessible or fast as it is today.
And yes, Microsoft is learning again that if they don't give their customers what they want, a large portion of their users will reject their OS. And time and again, they've shown if they don't get it right the first time, they're willing to listen and fix it. Same story with Win10, but yes, one less reason for another PC gaming OS/ecosystem.
Margalus - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkthere is a HUGE difference between forcing people to use a simple program like Steam that works alongside all of your programs and forcing people to use a completely different OS that is not compatible with all of their other programs.