August 13, 2010 11:42 am

The Origin EON 18: Crush your enemies and see them driven before you

Yes, I stole the headline from Conan the Barbarian.  But after using the Origin EON 18 gaming rig for the last few days, it’s the only way I could accurately depict just how mercilessly powerful this PC is.

Not familiar with Origin?  Don’t worry – up until a few months ago I hadn’t heard of them either.  So who are they?  In short, they’re a Miami based system-builder that’s entirely focused on super-high-end gaming PCs.  Their founders were instrumental in the launch of Alienware several years ago, and they’re continuing that “we-build-machines-that-will-melt-your-face-off” mentality with the monster EON laptop line.    What I’m loving about Origin as a company is that when they say custom, they mean it.  No matter what you want in a machine – a particular motherboard, graphics card, SSD, memory chips, paint job, etc. – you can get it.  Nothing is off limits. 

First off, this machine is BIG.  No, wait…big isn’t an adequate word.  Huge would be better.  Monstrous would be even better than that.  The Origin EON 18 is a crazy 17” wide, 11’ high and 3” deep and weighs over 10 lbs and stretches the boundaries of what you can legitimately call a “laptop” – let’s just say you won’t be using this on your tray table in coach!   Here’s a shot of the EON next to the smallest PC in my arsenal, the 8” Sony VAIO P:

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The screen is a glossed 1080p with color depth that rivals my LCD HD TV, and inside is a full arsenal of top-of-the-line specs.  Here’s what my EON is packing:

  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800M (Windows Experience Index scores of 6.6 for both desktop and gaming graphics).  The card is huge and has both a DVI and HDMI port attached.  Since I ordered mine, Origin has started offering the latest NVIDIA GTX 480M cards, as well as a DUAL ATI Radeon HD 5870 cards running in Crossfire mode.
  • ProcessorIntel Core i7-820 CPU (WEI score of 7.2).  I went for the 820, but you can spec an EON all the way up with a Core i7-940 Extreme.  That’s an extra $576, but its as big and heavy as you can go on proc. 
  • Memory:  8GB of DDR3 RAM.  Self explanatory.  If you need more memory than this, you’re more of a power user than I am.
  • Storage256GB Crucial RealSSD.  I *only* put one in here…but you can spec it with up to three for a over 750GB of SSD storage.  Origin will run them independent, or RAID 0 or 1 on your request.  If you go that route, be ready to drop an extra $2000+!  I should also note that you can go with regular HDDs as well – and use them to max your machine out with 2.75TB of space.  That’s just plain silly.
  • Ports, etc.:  A full compliment of the usual ports and radios – Wireless B/G/N, Bluetooth 2.1, 4 USB ports, microphone & headphone ports, eSATA and a TV tuner round things out.  TV looks GREAT on that killer 1080p screen!

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Performance on the Origin is exceptional.  In my stopwatch tests it crushed all comers (i.e., every other PC in my office) with a blazingly fast 1-second sleep/resume, and cold boot took only 24 seconds.  Full shut down was super fast as well and took just a hair over 7 seconds.    In every test I threw at it the Origin performed flawlessly.  Blu-Ray discs looked amazing, and day-to-day stuff ran smoothly with zero lag.  I tried to push the system, running Avatar in Blu-Ray at the same time as 10 tabs in IE (3 with Flash video), TweetDeck, Almost the entire Office 2010 suite (Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Excel 2010, OneNote 2010, Outlook 2010), Zune, Office Communicator, MSN Messenger, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Sync and Digsby Messenger, and I just couldn’t slow the system down. 

My gaming tests produced the same results – my usual test games of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Street Fighter 4 ran beautifully.  I ran both games in full screen mode at full frame rate and didn’t see a single lag or flicker.  Street Fighter was REALLY fun to play on this guy…it felt like I was 13 years old again, playing the stand-up game at the Challenge Arcade in my hometown of Wyomissing, PA.

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Beyond the “speeds and feeds” I’m really impressed with Origin’s industrial design and build quality. What stands out for me most is the all-glass trackpad and palmrest that’s completely smooth and unbroken, and the electroluminescent volume control (Which is “swipable” – just drag your finger across to change the sound level), hotkeys, and trackpad outline.  It gives the machine a high-tech look that says “nerd” as much as it says “sophisticated”.  All in all, a very nice balance of form and function.  Speaking of function, the Origin features a full keyboard + number pad, and has 8 dedicated “Gamekey” hotkeys which you can program to perform specific functions in specific games.  It’s a very nice touch that will be very useful if you’re a power gamer. 

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All of this power does not come cheap.  My custom Origin cost nearly $5500 to produce (they start at $2177), and go way up from there.  That being said, it is hands-down one of the finest gaming rigs I’ve ever used – and the free lifetime support they offer on all of their systems is pretty nice, too.  If you’re a serious gamer and you want the best, Origin needs to be on your short list.