Back at CES, in January 2016 a few executives from EVGA including the CEO Andrew Han showed us the first version of the notebook. This is a 17 inch 4K display with Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU, an incredible 32GB or RAM, Geforce 980M and 4K screen all caught our attention.
So far this notebook belongs to the crème de la crème, as it packs the most awesome hardware that can be built in a mobile computer. The machine is rather thin, at 1.05 (2.67 mm) it is still easy to transport. It measures 16-in x 11.6-in x 1.05-in and weighs 10lbs (4.54kg). Bear in mind that this is a gaming notebook that brings quite good overclocking to the game.
EVGA SC 17:
CPU: Intel Core i7-6820HK
GPU: GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
RAM: 32GB G.Skill DDR4-2666
Storage: 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6G HDD
Display: Sharp 17.3 inch UDH 4K with matte finish
OS: Windows 10 Home
Battery: 3000mAh, integrated
Dimensions: 16-in x 11.6-in x 1.05-in
Weight: 10lbs (4.54kg)
Connectivity: Intel AC-8260 802.11ac, Intel Gbit LAN and Bluetooth 4.2
MSRP: $2699 – currently available $2499
EVGA chose the best hardware possible for its notebook. Let’s start with the CPU. The Intel Core i7 6820HK has four cores and eight thread support and its base frequency is 2.7 GHz and with the help of turbo the CPU jumps to 3.6 GHz. Since it is unlocked and the notebook comes with the Precision X overclocking tool we managed to run the CPU even higher.
The SC17 notebook uses 32GB of high performance G.Skill DDR4 memory at 2666MHz in SO-DIMM form factor. The notebook has two times 16GB and this is really a lot for a notebook. EVGA chose Sharp 17.3 UHD 4K (3840x2160/60Hz) that looked great in everyday work with Windows 10 but even better in gaming. 4K resolution sceptics should be silent as the games looked great at lower resolutions too.
The combination of Samsung 256GB M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD with 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6G should be enough for most end users. It was enough for us to download a few games including Battlefield 4, Star Wars Battlefront and a few others including Doom. You can see the pattern of the kind of games we like to play.
We used both Gigabit Ethernet Lan card and Intel Snowfield Peak AC-8260 wireless and both worked fine. We were downloading games with Ethernet or WLAN at maximum speed that our internet connection allowed which was around 150 Mbps or around 18 MB/s.
The notebook has one GBE RJ45 Lan port, 2x USB 3.0 Type A, 1x USB 3.1 Type C, headphone and microphone, Full HD 1920x1080 Web camera. It also uses a state of the art Synaptic Clickpad 1.5 and supports Bluetooth 4.2. In case you wonder, the notebook comes with a full size backlit keyboard
The left hand side includes Kensington lock, and the power plug port next to a cooling vents. The LAN port is just below, next to a HDMI 1.4, Mini Display Port with support for external GSYNC.
The right hand side has another Kensington lock, USB 3.0, another sets of cooling vents, 3.5mm vents and another USB 3.0. The last is the brand new USB 3.1 Type-C connector.
The SC17 notebook comes with the Precision X overclocking tool and this is something that we predicted quite some time ago. Gaming notebooks won’t really do much without a power plug as everyone knows that games are one of the biggest battery draining pieces of software.
EVGA express Overclocking (EOC) is an EVGA patent pending technology that will let you overclock your machine with press of a button. You need to press FN + up arrow to overclock or FN + down arrow to get the clock down.
FN+ left or FN+right arrow will disable the EVGA logo on the back.
We have to spend some time talking about the gorgeous 4K screen. Sharp did a great job and the screen looks amazing with its maximal 3840x2160 at 60Hz. The fact that Windows 10 is doing a good job in scaling webpages and text definitely helps. You will be able to run some games at 4K but you will definitely be better off running them at 1440 or 1080 and the notebook scales rather well, and the games look good at the lower resolution.
The 32GB of GSKLL memory at 2666 MHz is one of the fastest we ever saw on a notebook and there is not a single game that will ask for more. 32GB sounds like overkill but it is better to have too much work memory than too little. More is always better with computing components. EVGA did a great job choosing the 256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe SSD as this is one of the fastest on the market. Cristal Disk Mark showed us that the drive is capable 2160 MB/s read and 1249 MB write speed. Since games these days are easily over 50GB, there is a second 1TB 7200 RPM drive that will serve well for many games you will want to install on this notebook.
The screen has rather a small bezel for a gaming notebook on the top and both sides but the bottom of the screen is on a thicker scale. The screen is so great that this won’t bother you when working with the notebook.
The notebook comes in metal finish and it feels really good. Your hands will be the notebook all the time, so it helps to feel comfortable. The power button is placed at the convenient right hand side top corner just below the screen. The notebook has a small and very discrete LED that will tell you that the notebook is on. The power button has a clear CMOS button which is something that might be useful is you do a higher than supposed to overclock. The power button will light just for a second when you turn on the machine, but it will fade and won't annoy your gaming.
The main star of this notebook is Nvidia GPU and 980M is still one of the best on the market but we are sure that EVGA plans to include Pascal GPUs in the future version of the SC17. Since this is an Intel CPU based notebook there is an Intel 530 GPU that will work in case you don’t play games. The transition is seamless so you don’t have to worry about that, once you start playing the game, the notebook switches to the Geforce 980M.
Speakers were doing a great job for notebook speakers, but of course, there is always a tradeoff. There is even a small subwoofer that will give some depth to the sound, but again we are quite sure that gamers will use this with the gaming headsets.
The first thing that we wanted to do after activating Windows was to download a few games via Origin or Steam and to give them a try. Since this is a Geforce powered notebook, it was rather easy to find the optimal resolution for the games. One of my favorite games Battlefield 4 runs really well.
EVGA will give you a free Division game. This was the first game we tried, after our favorite Battlefield 4 and both games ran smoothly. We ended up playing Doom too, and guess what? It works just fine so does the Start Wars Battlefront.
Since there is enough space EVGA included the full size keyboard with the numeric keyboard is comfortable to use. We didn’t have any problems and it was comfortable to type or game.
We like the fact that the company was using the large touchscreen despite the fact that you really want to get a gaming mouse to play any game at serious levels.
Overclocking and Performance
Overclocking is one of the main differentiating features of this notebook. One can overclock the notebook from the Windows BIOS. Skylake based 6820HK that Turbo’s all the way to 3.6Ghz can get overclocked a bit higher. The overclocking in BIOS is UEFI based with an EVGA skin on top of it. You have complete control over CPU voltage, frequencies, multiplier timings as well as memory related tweaks.
The EVGA Precision X Mobile software works out of the Windows and is probably going to be everyone’s favorite as it is easy to use. You have a choice of automatic super clock mode or completely manual. You can of course tweak both CPU and GPU.
We decided to use the overclocking tool and check the Cinebench 15 performance. At the default clock Intel Core i7 6720HK scored 699 points. When we pressed the Super Clock settings in the EVGA Precision X Mobile software the CPU speed jumped to close to 3.8GHz and we scored 814 points. This was close to a 16 percent jump and, of course, the notebook turns on the fan during the test.
The second thing that we tried is to see what happened when we overclocked the Doom at 4K 3840x2160 60 Hz. Before overclock we had 21 FPS minimum and 35 maximum.
The minimal FPS at 4K got up to 25 FPS while the maximal got to 35 FPS. Still we were closer to 30 FPS on average definitely showing some progress.
We went back to 1920x1080 and scored an average FPS jump from previous 87 FPS to 94 FPS or some 8 percent.
We tried to overclock in Tom Clancy's The Divison. It is important to notice that the game was stable at all times, just like Doom and Star Wars Battlefront. Tom Clancy Division at 4K in game jumped from 21FPS to 23 FPS. This doesn’t sound a lot but it is more than a nine percent performance jump. Of course, at a lower resolution, we would get eight to nine percent higher performance but it was interesting to see that even at incredibly high resolution SC17 can give you some decent scores.
Since The Division has a built-in benchmark we run it at the overclock notebook at 3840x2160 60Hz, all high details and we got 23.00 FPS average and typical 23.3 FPS. On non-overclocked CPU we scored 21.8 FPS average or typical 22.1 FPS.
Tom Clancy’s The Division at 1920x1080, with all high details, will get you an average of 53.3 FPS or 57.0 with an overclock.
The notebook got warm during testing and it will shoot out some hot air, but this happens at the area above the keyboard so you won’t really be bothered. The keyboard will get warm, but nothing that will make you uncomfortable.
On average your games will be eight to 10 percent faster when overclocked. The battery life will of course vary according to the activity. Playing games will drain your battery rather fast but the notebook won’t turn the fan on when you browse the internet or use it for Facebook and other time wasting activities. You can get more than three hours on a charge on an average internet usage.
Upgrading this notebook is also an easy task, at least when it comes to memory, wireless of a hard drive(s). you will be able to get the bigger SSD or HDD quite fast and easy. You will only have to remove a few screws.
The power adapter is rather unique with its flat design, and it will make it rather transportable despite its 240W capability. It is good that someone escaped from the usual brick design as apparently there is some space for power adapter innovation.
EVGA did an amazing job for its first notebook product. It offered everything that a modern notebook gamer wants. It is price competitive with MSI gaming notebooks too. At press time EVGA SC17 is discounted to $2499 making it rather nice buy for a gaming notebook. We were impressed to be able to play the latest games at decent resolutions.
EVGA SC17 offers exceptional performance with the incredibly fast CPU, GPU, 32GB RAM and plenty of storage and even the 4K display. This is a first of many, we believe and people who would like smaller resolution will probably get an option too. We didn’t find any problems by playing games at lower than 3840x2160 resolution when needed. Even the fastest notebook today cannot cope with 4K content at decent frame rates.
We liked the fact that there is a USB Type-C that bears the promise that the notebook is future proof. We can highly recommend it to anyone who is in the market for a gaming notebook. We can highly recommend it to anyone looking for an ultra high-end gaming notebook.