Origin Genesis Midtower: Blistering Speed With Room to Spare
At a Glance
Origin Genesis Midtower Desktop
Packed with liquid-cooled, overclocked components, the midtower variant of Origin's Genesis is every bit as potent (and pricey) as its larger sibling.
With prices starting around $2000 and reaching up to $7000, the performance PC category offers a wide range of speed and versatility, for most higher budgets. At just under $3600 (as of August 11, 2010), the midsize-tower variant of the Origin Genesis sits in the middle of the category, but it delivers performance that outpaces all but one of its pricier rivals.
The Genesis midtower's prowess comes courtesy of an overclocked, liquid-cooled Intel CPU, a 2.8GHz Core i7-930 processor pushed to 4.0GHz. The machine also offers 12GB of DDR3-1600MHz RAM and 1.6TB of hard-drive space (a pair of solid-state drives in RAID 0 for booting, and a 1.5TB hard drive for storage). It earned a WorldBench 6 score of 190--4 points lower than its larger Origin Genesis sibling, but 18 points higher than the Digital Storm Black Ops Assassin, its closest competitor in price.
On our Unreal Tournament 3 graphics benchmark, the Genesis midtower--equipped with a dual-GPU ATI Radeon 5970--generated an average of 165 frames per second. In Dirt 2, it reached 95.1 fps (at 2560 by 1600 resolution and the highest settings).
Those are impressive results, but the Genesis midtower is ultimately bested by competitors that have a bit more muscle. The CyberPower Black Pearl ($4200), which boasts three ATI Radeon 5870 graphics boards, delivered an average of 194 fps in Unreal Tournament 3 and 120 fps in Dirt 2. The Black Ops Assassin ($3391), sporting a pair of nVidia's GTX 480 cards, served up 173.4 fps in Unreal Tournament 3 and 129.5 fps in Dirt 2.
Keep in mind, however, that such numbers are exemplary--anything over 30 frames per second is generally considered playable, and once you've eclipsed 60 frames per second, you really don't have much room to complain. An extremely high graphics score can help you gauge a machine's longevity--these PCs aren't likely to fall behind the curve in the near future.
An arguably more important measure of a machine's life span is how accessible the case is for future upgrades. This is especially critical in the performance PC category, where a discerning shopper expects a lengthy life span out of their hefty investment.
The Genesis midsize tower comes in a Lian Li LanCool chassis. It isn't especially attractive, but it is an expansive, sturdy case--and, more important, it offers tool-free access to all of the machine's innards. A thumbscrew keeps the side door in place. Once you remove it, you'll be able to swap out optical drives, hard drives, and PCI cards by using a selection of levers and switches. Everything is very neat inside: The wiring, for example, is routed into a compartment that's separate from the PC's main cabin. This keeps the presentation clean and is great for airflow, increasing your components' longevity.
The system has four hard-drive bays; the pair of SSDs share one bay, leaving two bays for future expansion. You'll also find a total of five bays available for adding 5.25-inch drives, but the graphics card blocks one. In addition to a pair of PCI Express x8 slots, the machine has a spare PCI Express x16 slot, which could accommodate a second graphics card--except for the fact that, once again, the ATI Radeon 5970's awkward length makes adding a second one impossible. Opting for a slightly shorter card will allow you to fit a pair into the chassis, should you decide to upgrade.
The midsize Genesis also offers a fair complement of ports. On the front of the case, you'll find the requisite headphone and microphone jacks, plus three USB ports--two on the top, and one on the multiformat card reader. Since a machine this large is likely to spend much of its life underneath a desk, having a few more connectors right up front would have been appreciated. A Blu-ray/DVD-writer combo drive is on the front, too. A Blu-ray burner would have been a neat touch, but we don't usually see those on performance PCs until we cross the $4500 barrier.
The rear of the chassis provides eight more USB ports (for a total of 11), a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a FireWire port, a PS/2 serial keyboard port, 7.1-channel audio, and dual gigabit ethernet connectors. The graphics card has a pair of DVI ports, as well as a mini-DisplayPort connector.
The EVGA X58 FTW motherboard has an EVBot port, too. The EVBot, an overclocking tool designed by EVGA, offers real-time voltage and frequency adjustments via a handheld device (sold separately, of course).
Origin fills out the package with a custom-printed manual and DVD case, plus a slew of additional cables and connectors. They're all bog-standard pack-ins, but the Origin branding and meticulous packaging--the machine reached the PCWorld Labs in a 91-pound wooden crate--makes the entire system seem like a good investment.
As is the case with most machines at the higher end of the performance category, no mouse and keyboard were included with our test model. You can of course order one or both from the Origin Website, but if you're spending this much on a fully customized PC, you probably have a specific set of peripherals in mind.
Performance prowess shoots the Genesis midtower into the upper ranks of the performance PC category, but its expansive, modular chassis makes it a genuine contender. It offers stronger general performance than some pricier machines thanks to its impressive overclock. There's also much to be said for scalability: Once you are ready to expand, the case provides lots of space for future components, and makes the process painless. It's not the prettiest machine on the block, but the homely chassis houses a powerful PC, with plenty of room to grow.