Display and Audio Quality, Cooling, Portability, Software
Display And Audio Quality
The EON17-S comes with a big, glossy 1080p display. It’s a gaming laptop, so that’s what you would expect, and it makes a great first impression. The display is nearly edge-to-edge, so it looks particularly large. Brightness is high and does a nice job of combating the gloss, making it easy to use the laptop in most lighting conditions. Colors are beautiful and games look sharp when played at 1080p resolution.
Test images largely reinforce these perceptions. Black levels are better than average, gradient images don’t show any huge gaps and contrast is good. Viewing angles are a weakness, and the large display size combined with limited angles can cause an image quality problem. The edges of the display appear to fade in color slightly, an effect that’s most noticeable when web browsing, document editing or viewing a photo.
Audio quality is a mixed bag. The hardware is certainly up to the task and quality is sometimes excellent. Either Origin has tweaked it a bit so that it’s great for games or it was that way out of the box – in either case, the laptop handles dialogue and explosions well, which is about 90% of the sound in most games.
On the other hand, deep bass sounds can cause vibrations in the laptop’s chassis, which is annoying. The THX audio enhancement controls are another issue. They’re confusing and don’t always seem to enhance audio quality. I still can’t figure out what the “Dialog Plus” feature actually does – it certainly didn’t change audio quality.
The EON17-S is big, so I was hoping that it might be a bit quieter than your normal gaming laptop. It’s not. At idle the noise is noticeable, though not excessive, but load forces the fans to spin tirelessly. They also don’t always spin at the same speed for long periods of time – in some games they would ramp up for several minutes, then down, then up. I’m not sure if this is preferable to staying at one constant speed, but I am sure it’s annoying.
At least the cooling seems effective. Discounting the area around the main exhaust, which (of course) becomes extremely hot when gaming, the EON17-S has external temperatures in the mid-90s. The maximum temperature I recorded along the interior was 101 degrees Fahrenheit, but that was above the keyboard, a place users will rarely touch.
A gaming laptop is rarely portable, and this one certainly isn’t the exception. At nearly two inches thick in some places there’s no easy way to put this laptop in many bags. It simply does not fit in the small messenger bag I usually use for carting laptops around.
My backpack has enough room, but just barely, and this laptop’s weight of about nine pounds makes it a pain to carry. Heaven help the gamer who needs the power adapter – it’s large and adds about two more pounds.
Will you need the power adapter often? Let’s have a look at battery life and find out.
So, battery life isn’t great. Yet again the reason is lack of Optimus support. The power-hungry GPU is on all the time. If you want acceptable portability you’re going to need to buy another laptop to use instead of the EON17-S when you’re on the road.
Bloatware usually is not an issue with gaming laptops. The companies selling them have figured out that their customers are more tech-savvy than the average bear and don’t like to see too many extras.
The EON17-S isn’t an exception, but it does come with few extras like KeepSafe password management (for the built-in thumbprint reader) and CyberLink PowerDVD 12. These are full versions, however, not trials. There is also a useful EVGA-branded GPU app that allows for moderate overclocking and fan speed control.
Keyboard backlighting is controlled via software. Though the appearance of the app is amateurish, the software is functionally much better than what Alienware provides for its backlit keyboards – it’s quicker and easier to understand.
The only serious miss is the previously mentioned THX audio software. It is unfortunately not easy to ignore, but if you keep to adjusting only the volume and surround sound options you should be able to find settings that are pleasing to the ear.