I tested one of the high-end models, packing an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU (an Intel Core i7 9750H is also available), an RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, 500 GB NVMe SSD and 32 GB of RAM. As you'd expect with those kinds of specs and a larger than usual display, it's an excellent gaming machine.
While it fell slightly below the Gigabyte Aero 15-Y9 in terms of benchmark performance, it gamed like a champ. Playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider, it hit 35 fps in HDR mode on a 4K external monitor, with both ray-tracing and DLSS enabled. With the same settings enabled at 1080p on the built-in display, it managed 60 fps.
Hitman 2 played at 33.5 fps with the same settings at 4K and 50 fps at 1080p. Overwatch, meanwhile, hit over 130 fps at 1080p, while Forza Horizon 4 played at 80 fps at the same resolution. Thanks to the 144 Hz refresh rate, games always played smoothly with no tearing or artifacts. Colors looked bright and punchy, too.
While I was gaming, the EVO16-S would kick up a moderate, but not annoying, amount of noise, about the same as the Aero 15-Y9. I never found it got too hot, either, even after a lengthy gaming session. Here, the slightly larger body is an advantage, allowing more room for cooling.
With an RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, it can handle ray-tracing and DLSS anti-aliasing without taking a hit in performance. That applies to the few games that support the feature, like Battlefield V and Shadow of Tomb Raider. If you don't care about that, you can spend a lot less (like, half) to get laptops with NVIDIA's all-new GTX 1660 Ti GPU.
For content creation chores, the RTX 2080 Max-Q is a big improvement over the last-generation GTX tech, however. HEVC/H.264 rendering happens nearly twice as fast and Adobe Premiere is more responsive. I also found that other tasks, like photo resizing and exporting from Lightroom were three to four times quicker than on my GTX 1070 Max-Q powered laptop. The RTX GPUs can also handle 8K video, should you ever need to play or work with that.
The 16.1-inch screen is, again, great for entertainment, too. 1080p is more than sufficient for Netflix and other content, as you don't really gain much with 4K on a screen that small. The built-in speakers are slightly better than on other laptops I've tried, though they're obviously no substitute for a good set of speakers or headphones.
Windows laptops have a well-earned reputation for poor trackpads, but I was impressed with the EVO16-S in that regard. It has separate buttons for right and left clicking, with just the right amount of force needed. That's unlike the Aero touchpad buttons, which are a bit stiff. Scrolling and mousing is also smooth and accurate.
The keyboard has more travel than my Aero 15X, with an ever-so-slightly mushy feel. However, it didn't impede my touch-typing, nor cause any errors. Depending on your preferences for gaming, you might prefer a slightly clickier keyboard, however.
The weakest point on the Origin EVO16-S is the battery. It's just a 62Wh model that's much smaller than the optional 90Wh battery on the Alienware m15 or the Aero 15-Y9's huge 94Wh battery. That certainly made it lighter, but I was only able to get 5 hours in the battery rundown test, when looping a video continuously. With regular usage, I got about 4 hours of usage, and of course, gaming will further reduce that figure significantly.
As such, you'll need to carry the power adapter for serious gaming sessions, but there's good news in that regard. The EVO16-S has a smaller and lighter power brick than most other gaming laptops.
Pricing and the competition
There aren't many 16.1-inch gaming laptops out there, so I had to compare the EVO16-S with 15.6-inch models. Despite the larger screen, it stacks up well against rivals, price-wise. It costs $1,962 in a base configuration, with a 9th-generation 6-core i7-9750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2060 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 500GB NVMe drive. The configuration I tested, with an 8th-generation 6-core i7-8750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and a 500 GB NVMe drive costs $2,693.
That compares to $1,999 at the bottom end for a similarly equipped Razer Blade base model with a 65Wh battery, and $2,999 for the top end model with the same specs and a larger (80Wh) battery. Both laptops weigh the same at 4.6 pounds, though the Origin model has a larger display, obviously.
Gigabyte's Aero 15, meanwhile, runs $1,899 in the same base configuration, but costs $3,599 at the top end, though you get a Core i9 8th-agen chip, 4K display and 2TB of extra storage for that price. If you want something slightly lighter, MSI's GS65 Stealth is $2,789 (with 16GB of RAM) and weighs just 4.2 pounds.
The Origin EVO16-S offers outstanding performance and a competitive price, is well built, and has a surprisingly good touchpad. It's also stylish and understated, with just enough gaming touches to make a statement. And for even heavy gaming or video editing, it handled everything I could throw at it. The only drawback is that below-average battery life. Overall, it's a great option for gamers or content creators who want a screen size larger than 15.6 inches, but don't want to be burdened by a heavy 17.1-inch laptop.