If we asked you to name three boutique PC vendors, we’re pretty sure that Origin PC wouldn’t make your list. Hell, you’ve probably never even heard the name Origin PC.
But that’s to be expected. The company has only been selling PCs since November. That’s not a lot of time to jump into a game dominated by the likes of Falcon Northwest, Digital Storm, and Maingear.
Origin PC isn’t just a typical startup, though. The three founders of the company are ex-patriots of one of the oldest names in gaming PCs: Alienware. That’s the old Alienware, too, before it was sucked into the Dell mothership and relocated to Austin, Texas.
Despite those credentials, we were skeptical the company could ship us a functioning high-end gaming rig that could compete with the big boys. After all, we’ve had many new companies talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.
Sometimes, they can’t even ship us the system intact. And shipping is literally half the battle. You can’t just take a 90-pound rig, pack it in the cardboard box the case came in, and expect it not to end up in a dozen pieces. Origin PC got that part of the test right. Shipped in a wooden crate (Digital Storm uses a similar shipping system), the Genesis arrived next-day-air almost unharmed. During shipping a water reservoir shifted a quarter of an inch. We shifted it back.
On the hardware front, there are few surprises. You can read the spec chart for the full deets, but the highlights are tri-SLI GTX 480, an Asus Rampage III Extreme board, and an Intel 3.33GHz Core i7-980X overclocked to 4.5GHz. The overclock puts the machine just slightly ahead of the Maingear Shift (reviewed in June) at 4.2GHz 980X and Digital Storm’s HailStorm (reviewed in May), which ran its 980X at 4.4GHz.
Origin PC's Genesis packs no hardware surprises, but it's impressive nonetheless.
In hardware, these three have very similar configurations. The biggest variation was in cooling. The Shift was the most pedestrian with an off-the-shelf Acetek unit and air-cooled GTX 480 cards. That made it the loudest of the three. Surprisingly, despite its custom Koolance water-cooled GTX 480 cards, the Genesis wasn’t especially quiet. That honor goes to the HailStorm.
But what about performance? Obviously, the Genesis smokes our now pathetic Core i7-920 zero-point system. But what about the HailStorm and Shift? Not surprisingly, with its higher-clocked CPU, the Genesis came out on top. We saw the Genesis run roughly 2 to 8 percent faster than the HailStorm in applications and from 2 to 10 percent faster than the Shift. Gaming also saw the Genesis out front except in STALKER: CoP, where the HailStorm’s Radeon HD cards kept it in the lead. To sum up, the Genesis now holds five benchmark records. Not by a huge margin, but a win is a win is a win. We’ve also been running informal DX11 tests using Heaven 2.0 at max settings and 2560x1600 res. The Shift’s tri-SLI gave us 45fps and the Genesis gave us 50fps. Hell, the Genesis even survived a CPU burn-in test and a GPU burn-in test, to boot.
So, color us impressed. This one victory doesn’t automatically elevate Origin PC to the same status the established boutique vendors hold (there are still questions of long-term viability as well as long-term support and service that can only be answered over time), but it’s clear that this upstart can build a machine as fast or even faster than the best guys in business.
Origin PC Genesis
Record-setting benchmark performance; highest stable overclock we've seen to date.
Genesis the Band
Not as quiet as you would expect; unpacking is a two-person job.
Intel 3.33GHz Core i7-980X (overclocked to 4.5GHz)
Asus Rampage III
6GB Corsair DDR3/1600 in tri-channel mode
Three GeForce GTX 480 in tri-SLI
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty
Two 160GB Intel X25-M in RAID 0, 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 HDD (7,200rpm)
Pioneer BDR-205 12x Blu-ray burner
Corsair 700 D / Silverstone 1,500 PSU
Origin PC Genesis
Vegas Pro 9 (sec)
Lightroom 2.6 (sec)
ProShow 4 (sec)
Reference 1.6 (sec)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP (fps)
Far Cry 2 (fps)
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.5GHz, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1333 overclocked to 1,750MHz, on a Gigabyte X58 motherboard. We are running an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.