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Reviewed: EVGA SC17 Gaming Notebook

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Shawn Baker

Page 1: Reviewed: EVGA SC17 Gaming Notebook

evga sc17 test teaserAlthough EVGA is better known for their high-end graphics cards and motherboards, they’re constantly trying to break into new markets. Over the past few years we’ve seen the company offer high-end power supplies, input devices and even a chassis. The latest addition to the companies portfolio is the SC17 gaming notebook which first appeared during CES 2016. Let’s find out how it performs.

The name EVGA is likely to bring power graphics cards, mainboards and lavish high watt power supplies to mind. Every now and again, though, the company takes the time to expand into a new market segment and bring their own high end touch making an effort to keep the same target audience in mind: the enthusiasts. Those willing to pay the big bucks for high-performance, high-quality hardware have been the target audience for EVGA. Having performed so well in the graphics cards and motherboard sector, can they continue the success in the notebook one?

The EVGA SC17 is aimed at the ambitious gamer who wants more out of their hardware via an expensive device that offers a top quality and chic finish. Like the graphics cards, the abbreviation SC stands for “SuperClocked” and indicates overclocked components. In fact, inside the 17” model is an overclocked Intel CPU of the Skylake Generation which benefits from the ability to easily change its multiplier. This is made possible not only by the BIOS but also the in-house Precision tool from EVGA. Other choices outside of the clock speed include different voltages and memory timings. However, as great as all that sounds, can the specially designed unibody chassis keep the components running at a reasonable temperature? Let’s find out today!

Coming in at $2,699.99, you get an Intel Core i7-6820HK, whopping 32 GB DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 8GB GDDR5 video memory, a fast M.2 SSD with NVMe protocol alongside an additional magnetic drive for added storage. Although the CPU is the current flagship mobile model from the Skylake generation, EVGA has boosted the quad-core 3.6 GHz chip to 3.8 GHz. Instead of 2,133 MHz DDR4 RAM, that’s also coming in higher at 2,666 MHz while the GeForce GTX 980M comes in at a clock of at least 1,200 MHz. The hardware power is clearly needed as the EVGA SC17 comes paired with a ultra high-resolution 17.3” 4K display. Other features include gigabit LAN, fast 802.11 AC Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and USB 3.1 with a Type-C interface.

Simple housing with excellent craftsmanship

Coming in at 408 x 295.5 x 26.9 mm and carrying a weight of near 3.7 kg, the EVGA SC17 isn’t exactly the most portable or compact device. However, it still sits more compact than the likes of the MSI GT72. In particular, the height convinces, especially since the housing steadily becomes slimmer towards the front. According to EVGA, the housing is made entirely of aluminum. In its debut, the unibody offers excellent workmanship. Improper gaps and flex on the chassis is nowhere to be seen. While the EVGA SC17 can easily be open with one hand, the screen is very stable – the hinges do a very good job. The biggest negative comes from the surface being very susceptible to fingerprints and grease stains.

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As with the Apple MacBook or Razer Blade, the screen lid sees the manufacturer’s logo which lights up during operation. If desired, the light can be disabled via the new Precision X Mobile software. Both sides see a few air vents, albeit, very low key.

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Somewhat less subtle is the screen edge of the 17.3” 4K panel. Towards the base we’ve got a border of about 4.5 cm, while a still impressive 2.5 cm is seen towards the top which holds a Full HD webcam and microphone. The left and right edges come in at just over 1 cm.

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Thanks to the 17” display we’ve got room for a numpad which should delight prolific writers who make use of numbers regularly. Although the EVGA SC17 clearly appeals to ambitious gamers and hardware enthusiasts, the WASD keys are not color-highlighted. In terms of backlighting, EVGA has also decided against an RGB system and opted for just white LEDs with five different brightness levels. The key feedback is impressive and the stroke is very pleasant making for an excellent typing feel. Those writing over extended periods of times will enjoy the 15 x 15 mm keys with 4 mm pitch. Only the arrow keys are a bit smaller while a number of special keys are also moved closer together.

Good touchpad but limited connection diversity

Pleasant is also the touchpad. The 108 x 70 mm unit understands multi-touch and offers solid gliding characteristics and reaction rate. No jerks or misfires were determined out of the gaming notebook. Our left and right mouse button is integrated into the pad itself with no lines distinguishing exactly where they are. Of course, gamers are going to skip over the touchpad and instead opt for a real gaming mouse. On that note, Newegg are currently offering a free EVGA X10 mouse.

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USB connectivity is slightly lacking with just two USB 3.0 interfaces built into the EVGA SC17. Not only that, both are located on the right side.

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Overall, the position of the connections are unfavorable. The Gigabit Ethernet port is located centrally on the left next to our output connectors. Here, we’ve got a single HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors. For optimal cable management on the desk, these would’ve been better suited behind the screen or at least to the rear of the notebook. While the Mini DisplayPort connectors support NVIDIA G-Sync, the built-in IPS panel doesn’t.

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Beside the two USB 3.0 ports on the right of the housing, there is a single USB 3.1 Type-C connector which supports transfer rates of up to 40 GB/s. With support for Thunderbolt 3, a monitor can also be plugged into the connector. Also offered here is a single 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones. As for the audio, EVGA has placed a large emphasis on high quality sound output. Along with two large stereo speakers an additional subwoofer is found in the base for powerful bass. While the sound quality and overall volume is ok, they are still only notebook speakers. Those wanting to have a greater audio experience will most likely want to connect their own system.

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While very discreet, vents are located throughout the notebook with a large portion of them being seen on the rear and base.

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The Intel Core i7-6820HQ and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M are at the top of performance pyramid when it comes to notebook hardware. Not only are they fast, but also relatively power-hungry. Throw overclocking into the mix and EVGA need a strong power supply. The 240 W unit not only provides enough power but also looks very stylish.

No unnecessary software

It’s also pleasing to see that EVGA has omitted installing unnecessary software. While so many manufacturers opt to install demos and bloatware, EVGA just include the Precision X Mobile software. Here you’re able to adjust the clock speed of not only the CPU but also the graphics card. In addition, the lighting can be adjusted.

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While most companies opt for very rudimentary settings in the UEFI BIOS like boot order, EVGA offer an almost complete motherboard BIOS that’s seen in the desktop segment. Here we’ve got the ability to navigate via the mouse, adjust overclocking features and easily update the BIOS. In the event that the notebook doesn’t power up after adjusting the settings, there is a clear CMOS switch above the power button.