capsule review

Origin Genesis Midtower: Solid Performance, at a Price That's Hard to Beat

At a Glance
  • Origin Genesis Midtower 2011

    PCWorld Rating

    Origin has updated the Genesis Midtower desktop for 2011 with Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs. While far less imposing than its larger sibling, this machine represents one of the best price-to-performance...

Origin Genesis Midtower performance desktop
The performance desktop world has been shaken rather soundly with the arrival of Intel's second-generation Core processors. And you'd be hard-pressed to find better proof than the $2000 Origin Genesis Midtower, revamped with the Core i7-2600K processor and parked near the top of the charts.

Price isn't a factor in our reviews here at PCWorld, nor does it determine what category a particular machine falls into--that's largely determined by hardware. Machines with six-core processors (or four cores and eight threads, courtesy of hyperthreading on Intel's higher-end Core i7 CPUs), oodles of RAM, and top-tier GPUs will generally fit the bill, but all that hardware generally pushes systems over the edge when it comes to cost.

We've seen PCs in this price range before--the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-390t, for one--but with such desktops you're generally going to expect sacrifices. The new Genesis Midtower stands out, delivering the expected high-tier experience at a price tag that quite honestly feels like a typo.

Under the hood are a second-generation Core i7-2600K processor overclocked to an impressive 4.7GHz, a pair of 640GB hard drives in RAID 0, 4GB of DDR3-1333MHz RAM, and an Nvidia Geforce GTX 570 graphics card. It's a humble loadout for the performance category--a little light on RAM, and quite sparse on storage--but the test results allay concerns, as the system earned a mark of 186 on our WorldBench 6 test suite. That score puts the new Origin Genesis Midtower well ahead of anything in its price range on our mainstream PCs chart. It currently topples most of the offerings on the performance-PC chart, too, falling short only to its larger, $6400 sibling and Maingear's $8000 Shift Super Stock.

Games performance comes care of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 570--a single GPU, but a capable one. It produced an average of 81 frames per second on our Call of Duty 4 test.

Performance in graphically intensive games was a bit tempered: The Genesis Midtower generated an average of 32 fps in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, and an average of 24 fps in Just Cause 2. Keep in mind, though, that we run all of these tests at a resolution of 2560 by 1600, with the highest possible settings, on 30-inch displays. Adjust the settings or the resolution, and you'll get a smoother result.

Like its predecessor, the new Genesis Midtower is packed into a rather plain case. It isn't unattractive by any means--but after you spend a fair bit of time futzing with the Origin Genesis's remote-controlled light show, the single blue LED bar illuminating the Midtower's innards is something of a letdown. Then again, you can't expect too many frills if you're going to shave $4000 off the bill.

So the luxury lighting is gone. The Lian-Li PC-8NWX chassis doesn't skimp on features, however, offering a tool-free design in its relatively spacious shell. You'll find a single free hard-drive bay left, and room for two more 5.25-inch drives; the machine ships with a DVD burner. Two more DIMM slots are available on the motherboard, along with a single free PCIe x16 slot and a pair of PCI slots. The motherboard's third PCIe x16 slot is blocked by an internal USB card. Fitting a second GTX 570 into the chassis isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility, though it'll take a bit of rearranging, and dissipating all of that heat might become a concern.

A beefy Asetek radiator keeps the overclocked CPU in check. It's attached to the rear of the chassis, and while it is large, it doesn't block anything of importance. As with the larger Genesis, the wiring job in the Midtower model is meticulous: All of the cables are tied down, sleeved, and tucked out of the way. This is great for airflow--the CPU may be liquid cooled, but the GTX 570 will need room to breathe.

The case is fairly accessible overall. The front offers a multiformat card reader (with a USB port), the expected headphone and microphone jacks, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and one eSATA port. Having advanced connectivity options front and center is great, and USB 3.0 is becoming increasingly common in desktops across all categories.

On the rear are another pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of eSATA ports, and eight USB ports. You'll also find a Bluetooth reciever, 7.1 optical and analog surround sound, dual gigabit ethernet, and a PS/2 serial mouse/keyboard combo port. The graphics card offers two DVI ports and a mini-HDMI port. All told, it's a fine selection (unless you're especially attached to FireWire).

In the Genesis Midtower, Origin has made some compromises and concessions to hit that $2000 price point. The lack of a Blu-ray player is lamentable, as every other machine on our performance-PC chart has one, and we've begun to see them shipping on inexpensive budget desktops, too. There's also the disappointing 640GB of storage, but dropping RAID 0 to take advantage of both hard drives would ding the system's performance scores a bit. However, you can always add a 2TB hard drive and a Blu-ray burner, and still have a powerful machine at a very reasonable price.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Origin has updated the Genesis Midtower desktop for 2011 with Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs. While far less imposing than its larger sibling, this machine represents one of the best price-to-performance ratios on our charts, with few sacrifices.

    Pros

    • Stellar price-to-performance ratio

    Cons

    • Lacks a Blu-ray player
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