Origin Eon 11-S (Core i7-3612QM) review:

Origin Eon 11-S (Core i7-3612QM)

Origin Eon 11-S Average for category [ultraportable]
Video VGA plus HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 1 USB 2.0, 2 UDB 3.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, 1 UDB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive None None

With HDMI and a couple of USB 3.0 ports, you're really not missing out on much in the way of connectivity. Some 11-inch laptops (as well as Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) skip the Ethernet jack in favor of a USB dongle, but I was pleased to see it included here, as I wanted a hard line or download big PC game install files.

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The Intel Core i7-3612QM included in this test system isn't even as high as you can go. The top choice is a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM, which is a $251 upgrade from the $1,542 our build cost. I counted 23 hard-drive options, from 320GB platter drives (we had a 750GB one), to 512GB solid-state drive options for an additional $800 or more.

In our benchmark tests, the Eon 11-S performed well, but it's a tough system to judge. You can compare it to other 11-inch laptops, but the components (and price) are in an entirely different category, or you can compare it to other Ivy Bridge gaming laptops, which have the benefit of using faster, hotter components. The 11-S held its own even against those systems, falling a bit behind the Maingear EX-L 15 and the Samsung Series 7 Gamer, but still showing off its high-end quad-core CPU.

Those bigger gaming laptops had GPUs such as the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M, versus the GeForce 650M here. It's still more than powerful enough for all but the most extreme gamers. The Eon 11-S ran our Street Fighter IV test at its 1,366x768-pixel native resolution at 113.4 frames per second, and the very challenging Metro 2033 test at 19.3 frames per second at the same resolution.

Anecdotally, I connected to a 1,920x,1080-pixel external display and fired up Diablo III at full 1080p resolution, with most of the in-game settings on high, and it was extremely playable. For a portable machine meant for travel, LAN parties (do people still have those?) and the like, this feels like a very reasonable compromise to make, and still leaves you with the ability to play any new or upcoming PC game with decent results.

Mainstream (Avg watts/hour)
Off (60%) 0.47
Sleep (10%) 1.01
Idle (25%) 18.94
Load (05%) 48.42
Raw kWh Number 66.04
Annual Energy Cost 7.50

The battery life expectations one generally has for an 11-inch laptop may be unrealistic here, with all this high-end hardware and only so much space in the small chassis for a battery. Still, the Eon 11-S ran for 3 hours and 8 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is pretty impressive for a gaming laptop. If you're actually hitting the GPU by playing a game, your battery life will likely be shorter, but this is considered quite good for a gaming laptop of any size.

Origin supplies a detailed multipage checklist covering its assembly and testing, hand-signed by the techs responsible. The default mail-in warranty is for one year, but with only 45 days of free shipping. Adding $70 will get you free shipping for the full one-year duration of the warranty, or two- and three-year terms are also available. A three-year plan runs $269. The system includes lifetime phone support and labor (assuming you pay for parts), which is a nice touch, as is the 45-day guarantee of no dead pixels on the display.

The best-known 11-inch gaming laptop, Alienware's M11x, has exited stage left, leaving room for Origin (and a couple of other boutique PC makers) to cater to the presumably small but serious audience for on-the-go gaming. If you make sure to build out a specific configuration that will work for you (the config reviewed here seems like a good place to start), the Eon 11-S can be both a docked gaming monster at home and a fun travel companion.

Multimedia Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Street Fighter IV (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Annual Energy Cost (Juice box)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

What you'll pay

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