EVGA SC17

Ultra high-powered gaming laptops take much of their design cues from modern supercars, with sharp, accented angles and honeycombed intakes. The EVGA SC17 is more like a luxury pickup truck than a supercar, with lots of power but not a lot of flair. 

Make no mistake about it: there's plenty of power here. With an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics chip, 32GB of DDR4 memory and an available G-Sync 4K display, this EVGA is equipped for heavy lifting.

This is unquestionably a desktop replacement, going toe to toe with other gaming powerhouses, like the Razer Blade Pro and the Alienware 17 R4. All three computers have a lot in common: enormous weight, screen size and price tags.

Price and availability

The SC17, as equipped, costs $2,799 (about £2,500, AU$3,591). It's not yet available in Australia, but you can sign up for pricing and availability notifications on EVGA's official Australian website. It's a lot of money, but significantly cheaper than the Blade Pro, and on par with the Alienware.

Design

Design wise, the SC17 doesn't do much to stand out. It's unassuming, but not unattractive. There's nothing flashy here. It exudes a utilitarian look but still has softness on the edges to keep it from seeming ostentatious, as is the case with most gaming laptops. 

The lid and interior are made of remarkably solid-feeling aluminum. The bottom of the computer is plastic, but it feels quite solid. There's a definite sense the EVGA is capable of standing up to some abuse, or could be used as a shield if a medieval combat situation were to arise.

Fan vents run the width of the bottom and feel extremely sturdy. There's very little in the way of flex, which is great given how heavy the SC17 is. An intake vent lines the rear, just below the hinge. This is about as close as the SC17 comes to giving away its true purpose as a monster gaming computer. That, and its tremendous weight.

As heavy as it is, this laptop is surprisingly thin. When closed, the SC17 measures just over an inch thick. It's not as svelte as the Blade Pro, but it's still impressive for a VR-ready laptop.

On the inside is a beautiful, 4K, G-Sync-enabled display with incredibly crisp colors and excellent brightness. There is a small amount of light bleed on the right and left lower corners of the screen, but the quality of the on-screen images help make up for a little bit of brightness when the screen is all-black.

The backlit, full-sized chiclet-style keyboard on the SC17 is a delight. The keys have a wonderful amount of travel and clickiness to them and, by virtue of being a 17-inch laptop, there's plenty of space to rest your wrists. Unlike the Blade Pro and Alienware 17, there's no RGB lighting here. 

There are also dedicated keys for overclocking, which is awesome. One push of the function key and the overclock button, and you're off to the races. The Intel Core i7-6820HK is unlocked and ready to be pushed to as far as 3.3GHz at the push of a button. The SC17 ‘only’ has a GTX 1070 8GB graphics chip, the smaller sibling to the Alienware R17 and Blade Pro's GTX 1080 – so, it's at a disadvantage power-wise.

For its strengths, its biggest weaknesses are battery life and fan noise. When pushed, the fans can't be ignored. Playing just about any modern game starts them spinning. Fortunately, the built-in speakers are able to produce decent-quality sound to cover it up. 

The sound from the speakers is a touch on the flat side, though. Music and sound effects lose some of their depth. However, they aren't bad speakers – they just aren't great. 

Battery life in this laptop is just plain bad. In our movie test, setting Guardians of the Galaxy to play in VLC at 50% volume and 50% screen brightness, it never even had a chance to repeat itself. The SC17 went dark after just 1 hour and 48 minutes. In normal use, with a dozen browser tabs open and a YouTube video playing Norm MacDonald Live in the background, it only lasted a single minute longer.

It doesn't help matters that the power brick for the SC17 is huge, because there's no chance you'll be able to leave home without it. Dropped into your laptop bag with the already beefy, 9-pound SC17 means your shoulders are going to hate your guts.

For its intended task, the EVGA SC17 delivers. The only real downside to its GTX 1070 is when it’s compared to the GTX 1080 in the Blade Pro and Alienware 17. But, in practical terms, that just means it doesn't hit the same staggering heights. It's just a tick or two below phenomenal, but it's also the least expensive of the three.

This is a powerful gaming laptop, and it's VR-ready, too. And, the bright, G-Sync enabled display makes everything pop. Playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on the SC17 is a real treat. The large screen and super-high resolution helps you spot distant enemies, although it runs best at 1440p.  

We tested games in our benchmarking tests in 4K, mostly out of curiosity, and the results weren't good. Warhammer was able to put up a decent 39 frames per second (fps) at ultra-high definition, but Deus Ex: Mankind Divided slumped along at just under 5 fps. Even at 1080p with Ultra settings, the SC17 only managed to squeeze out 8 fps in this game.

We liked

Save for that light bleed, the display is just excellent. Everything looks sharp, from games to YouTube videos and even still photographs. It's impressive how far 4K computers have come in such a relatively short amount of time, and the SC17 proves 4K is viable in laptop form. 

The first thing we do when presented with a 4K display option is watch wildlife videos in Ultra HD on YouTube, and it never fails to elicit a ‘wow’ from an onlooker.

We disliked

As well as the SC17 performs, its battery life is just bad. Less than 2 hours of life means you can't really enjoy the benefits of a portable machine, no matter its weight. 

On top of that, at 9 pounds, using it as a laptop and resting it on your lap quickly becomes uncomfortable. This is a desktop replacement that can't venture too far from your desktop.

Final verdict

The SC17 is a fine balance between power and value in a VR-ready gaming laptop. The price is reasonable, and there are lots of retailers listing the SC17 for much less than its $2,799 MSRP. That's an enormous chunk of change – but, up against the $3,800 Blade Pro, it's a bargain.

The 4K G-Sync display really brings things to life, and games look amazing, but that light bleed is tough to ignore for the price. The GTX 1070 doesn't allow the display to reach its fullest potential, but for nearly every game you have in your Steam library, it's more than enough. If the GTX 1070 doesn't appeal to you, there's a version available with a GTX 1080 for $300 more. The biggest negative is battery life but, against its peers, it's par for the course.

The EVGA SC17 is a solid performer with understated looks and a price tag that feels appropriate. It lacks the aesthetic panache of its competitors, but does a fine job doing what it was designed to do – just watch out for build defects in your unit and act accordingly.

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