Hands on: EVGA SC15 review

A large and powerful gaming laptop

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Our Early Verdict

The EVGA SC15 is a bit on the large side compared to most modern gaming laptops, but this 15-incher promises to never throttle its hexa-core processors like other thinner designs will.

For

  • Nearly top-end specs
  • Matte covered 144Hz display
  • Surprisingly quiet while running at full tilt

Against

  • Extra thick bezels
  • Pricing and availability are still a mystery
  • No Intel Core i9 option

EVGA might be better known for its graphics cards and motherboards, but the company has recently become a seasoned gaming laptop maker. For Computex 2018, the component maker brought out an updated version of its 15-inch gaming laptop, the SC15, equipped with hexa-core Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics.

Although it’s a bit thicker compared to a growing segment of thin performance notebooks, EVGA argues that its 15-incher will outperform those slimmer designs.

Pricing and availability

EVGA wasn’t ready to disclose pricing or availability for the Max-Q version of the SC15. However, we’ll update this hands on review as soon as the information becomes available.

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Design

Weighing in at 6.46 pounds (2.93 kg) and measuring 15.24 x 10.24 x 0.89 inches (38.7 x 26 x 2.25 cm), we wouldn’t exactly call the EVGA SC15 thin and light, especially compared to the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and newly redesigned Razer Blade.

To make itself look a little smaller than it actually is, the EVGA SC15 features a slick, minimalistic design. This is especially apparent when you look at the screen lid and realize it’s basically made of one contiguous and featureless piece of brushed aluminum. The keyboard deck is similarly made from one plain slab of aluminum, but it has a sand-blasted finish that's complimented by a black paint job.

Altogether, the laptop feels completely solid throughout thanks to its almost entirely metal build, and if it weren’t for the multi-colored backlit keyboard, you might confuse it for an office laptop. 

The only major fault we've found with the EVGA SC15's design is its massive screen bezel, which in 2018 feel incredibly dated. The good news is that the entire Full HD 144Hz display is fronted by one giant sheet of cover glass. This provides the screen with a completely matte finish, while preventing dust and other gunk from slipping behind those large bezels.

Specs and performance

EVGA tells us that the new SC15 will max out with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor – sorry, no Core i9 option here – paired with a Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics and 16 GB of DDR4-2400 RAM. There wasn’t a mention of storage options, but, as with previous editions, we can expect up to a 256GB of PCIe SSD paired with an additional 1TB hard drive. 

The EVGA SC15 also comes with a display upgrade thanks to its new Full HD screen that supports up to a 144Hz refresh rate.

As for performance, we only tried a quick game of PUBG, with the game running consistently well above 60 fps.

EVGA also tells us it decided to stick with the SC15's thicker form factor to better cool its components, while taking full advantage of Intel’s new six-core processors. The component maker was quick to point out that thin gaming laptops often run into throttling when they get too hot, thereby eliminating the advantage of having more than four processor cores. 

It seems like sound reasoning, but we’ll have to see if that’s really the case in our full review.

There was also no mention of expected battery life, so we’ll have to wait for those details at a later date – and, of course, we’ll stack those claims against our in-house tests as well.

Early verdict

The EVGA SC15 looks like a solid upgrade over its predecessor with the latest hexa-core Intel Coffee Lake CPUs and bumping up the graphical performance with a Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q. Despite running PUBG at max settings, the 15-inch gaming laptop barely made a peep, which is as to be expected from a Max-Q designed machine.

However, with so few details on battery life, availability and price, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding this machine. In the meantime, those looking for a competently powerful 15-inch gaming laptop might be interested in Asus ROG Strix Hero II. Meanwhile, Acer Predator Helios 500 looks to be the old school desktop replacement of choice right now.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.