A wooden crate is sitting in my not so large apartment. What, is this 1950 and I ordered a marble statue from Italy that came packed in hay? No, this is the first impression that Origin PC wants you to have after they ship a hand-built system to your home. The box looks like it was sent from that warehouse everyone dreams about exploring from the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Stencil painted on the side of the crate is “Origin PC.” A friend of mine asked what I was going to do with the box when I removed its innards. Apparently my idea wasn’t good enough so it will be shellacked and become their coffee table. What nerds I run with.
Origin PC is about a year old and was founded by the guys who brought you Alienware PCs. Only after big momma Dell acquired the company, a few non-corporate types decided to resist the badge of corporate America, and start up something fresh.
Origin PC is now a maker of very fine, high-end performance computers that are often better known as “high-end gaming computers.” The fallacy of course is the rigs are suitable for much more than just gaming, and the people who can afford them don’t likely have time for week long journeys through the World of Warcraft. So why has the “gaming computer” name stuck? A lot of reasons actually, but often these machines are built by hardcore gamers turned business people, and sound a lot more sexy that “super duper work station computers.” Yes, these machines, if properly configured, will allow you to play with Photoshop filters to your heart’s content, while converting 12 hours of footage you recorded with your helmet-cam (wig-cam?) while strolling through Comic Con in your Elvira costume, in to video so that you can replay it on your iPod to your therapist.
I can’t review a specific Origin PC computer per se, because as you know the performance of any specific system completely depends on the parts inside of it. Systems like this are not only infinitely configurable, but are also upgradeable, and subject to the best parts then available in the market and offered by Origin PC. It of course goes without saying that Origin PC will always offer the best available parts, and given their reputation for fanatical testing, will ensure all components and drivers play nice.
What I will do is share a bit of my experience in getting an Origin PC Genesis PC system. After removing a dozen or so steel screws from the wooden box in my living room, the unpackaging ceremony was about to start (cue orchestra and dim the lights). The innards of the cardboard box were as neatly arranged as the components in the computer case itself.
Origin PC includes a baseball cap, t-Shirt, and wall poster for you. While these are a bit cheesy, I found myself actually thinking I would be quite proud to wear the clothes for the right audience. Maybe I found my wardrobe for after parties at CES. Because you know ladies love niche high-end computer maker garb.
Genesis out of the box was wearing nicer clothes than I. A black velvet-like cover was draped over the case and underneath was the new star player of my office. The design of the computer tower case is fantastic (one of the best offerings by Corsair). Matte black and quite minimalist – a super functional subdued box. Ports for front mounted USB ports (and alike) are hidden behind a panel), and there is a door in the front of the case to allow for easy removal of hard drives. The tool-less case is nifty. Literally the press of a button is all that is needed to remove the side panels. Replacing them is no chore either.
Origin PC prefers the more modern manner of arrangement in cases with ATX layout motherboards. These arrangements take more space, but offer better heat isolation, air flow, and are aesthetically more pleasing. The power supply is placed at the bottom of the case in a separate chamber than the motherboard. This is also the last stop air has before it is blow out of the case after being sucked in through the top of the case. While not on all systems, mine had a water cooling system over the CPU and GPUs (double graphic card system). Water cool is really cool looking, and highly effective in terms of keeping a system quite and allowing one to over-clock a machine. I was concerned about stability over-clocking the Intel Extreme CPU in this machine, but Origin PC insisted that with their components, the CPU wouldn’t even know it was running faster given the effectiveness of the heat dispersal.
Water cooling has the downside of making it much more difficult to upgrade your computer. But Origin PC likely has that covered, and a guy can be sent out (probably no matter where you are in the US) to help with upgrading a set of graphics cards, etc… People are most likely to upgrade RAM, which isn’t an issue as it isn’t affected by the water cooling system.
The detail work in terms of the arrangement and cable management inside of the case is awe inspiring. I had a nerdgasm when I saw just how dutifully wires and cables where arranged inside of the case not only to be out of the way, but also to promote positive airflow. Oh, and get this, spare power cables for the power supply come in a handy cloth pouch. Anything provided in plastic bags I just assume toss, but cloth says “keep me and pass me down to the next generation.” To be fair, the cloth bag was from Corsair, the maker of the power supply unit.
Origin PC can pimp your system in a number of ways. I opted for a more subdued look. I am running a business out of the office (in my home) after all. Still, I was convinced to go with the “light show” on the inside. I am no stranger to fans with LEDs in them, but the Origin PC takes it up a notch. It starts with a few lights in natively in the high-end Asus mother board. By the way, that mobo actually has a “START” button on it like a fancy sports car. Cheesy to the max, but you’ll love that it is there. Origin PC steps it up a few notches with a series of custom-made lights that change colors. Check out a few images here and see how all colors of the rainbow bask over your speedy system.
How quiet is the machine? Will there are a few fans in addition to the water cooling, but over all I would say that it is not very loud. The sound at least is a continuous hum, and not very distracting. I wouldn’t call this an “ultra silent” computer, but compared to a lot of the high-end performance gaming machines out there, the Genesis whispers. In terms of spend mine is very fast. Intel Extreme Core i7 processor, 12 gigs of 1600MHZ RAM, and the OS installed on a solid state hard drive. That is by no means the highest end that Origin PC offers.
Assuming you can afford one, I don’t really see downsides to Origin PC, their products, or the Genesis machine. You’ll have to be a fan of a more subdued aesthetic to enjoy their system (which I am now that I am no longer 13 years old). My impression from dealing with the brand as well as their product is that they focus on performance, are very interested in wowing the customers, and are striving to offer a highly exclusive product and experience.
It is a grand thing that computers such as this are high-built for your pleasure. You can’t just go to a store and buy a ready-built one, so you’ll have to configure one online or via the phone. I actually wrote another article on the same machine, but under a different premise. Discussing how products like this define and occupy the nameless luxury computer market. By calling themselves “gaming computers” machines like this are preventing themselves from being noticed by not only those who have very high-end computing requirements (that would otherwise buy less sexy workstation computers), but also the luxury buyer looking for hand-built quality and exclusivity. An interesting concept if you think about it. So in a sense, these machines are for gamers, people looking for very high performing machines, and the luxury lover who wants a hand-made box to go with his hand-made Swiss mechanical watch, high-quality Italian shoes, and German tuner car.
Origin PC Genesis computer probably average about $5,000, but can go up much higher if you opt for the then best parts, fancy case paint jobs, and include lots of peripherals such as monitors, etc… Does everyone need a machine like this? Not at all, but anyone who is a computer lover should admire them. Machines like this also offer a good reason to stick with Windows and avoid the cookie-cutter Apple computer approach.
As a newer brand Origin PC is right up there with the high-end computer maker greats that have been around for the last 5-10 years – and in some ways they do an even better job.