capsule review

Origin Genesis Midtower: Storming The Midrange

At a Glance
  • Origin Genesis Midtower Mainstream

    PCWorld Rating

    Origin's “low-end” Genesis is anything but: traditional mid-range components are joined by a heap of RAM and a pair of Nvidia graphics cards in SLI.

I know what you're thinking -- didn't PCWorld already review the Origin Genesis Midtower? Good job, young Padawan, because you're right -- we did. However, this variant of Origin's Genesis line is equipped with midrange components, and a slightly less potent Sandy Bridge processor (the Intel Core i5-2500K). Don't let this fool you, though -- Origin's latest actually outstripped its predecessor on our WorldBench 6 tests, thanks in part to it's RAID 0 array, and an overabundance of RAM.

The Genesis Midtower Mainstream ($2,254 as of 3/7/11) packs a party of impressive features under its unassuming hood. Aside from the second-generation Intel i5-2500K (overclocked to 4.5GHz), the Mainstream sports 16GB of RAM, a terabyte of hard drive space (actually a pair of 640GB drives, arranged in RAID 0), and a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards in SLI. You'll also find a DVD-burner, and Windows Home 7 premium (64-bit).

Despite the Midtower Mainstream's lesser processor, it received a score of 206 on our World Bench 6 benchmark tests. It's bested (barely) in general performance by the Maingear Vybe Super Stock ($1849), which earned a 207. Third place goes to the Micro Express MicroFlex 25B ($850), which earned a 188.

The Midtower Mainstream's pair of GTX 560 Ti graphics cards also proved rather capable. We'll use Maingear's Vybe Super Stock, for comparison's sake -- it's equipped with a single Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics card. All of our tests were conducted at a 2560-by-1600 resolution, at the highest available settings. In this case, two midrange cards in SLI outpaced the single higher-end GPU. The Vybe Super Stock also offers up half as much RAM, and its 60GB SSD and 1TB storage drives can't quite keep up with the Genesis' RAID 0 arrangement.

The Origin Midtower chassis makes a return here: it's plain, yet attractive. Its brushed black aluminum exterior is broken in only a few places, including the front (where there's a mesh front panel with the Origin logo) and the side, where there's a large plastic window. The case is generally accessible, and the windowed side panel slides off easily to allow you access to the guts of the machine.

The interior of the case is roomy but cramped. Like other Origin systems, the Midtower Mainstream's interiors are attractively lit up (with just one blue LED bar) and meticulously organized. However, because Origin is squeezing two graphics cards and 16GB of RAM in there, there's very little upgrade space. There are three 3.5-inch bays (two are used) and three 5.25-inch bays (one is used), as well as two open PCI slots. Good luck squeezing any peripherals into those PCIe x16 slots, though, with those hulking graphics cards in there. For what it's worth, there's also an open PCIe x1 that you'll probably be able to use.

As for ports, the case is well laid out. The front panel features a multi-format card reader, a USB port, an eSATA port, two USB 3.0 ports, and microphone and headphone jacks. On the rear you'll find an additional two more USB 3.0 ports, and six more USB ports. There's also an eSATA port, a power eSATA Port, an SPDIF out, individual PS/2 serial mouse and keyboard ports, an optical audio port, a Firewire port, gigabit Ethernet, and 7.1 surround sound. Each graphics card features two DVI ports and a mini-HDMI port, which makes for four DVI ports and two mini-HDMIs in total.

The latest Midtower variant of Origin's Genesis line is a bit of an odd duck. It's the priciest machine on our Mainstream charts by about $400. But that Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor lacks hyperthreading, which puts it at a disadvantage when compared to the Core i7-equipped behemoths that litter our Performance desktops charts. The excessive amount of RAM and the RAID 0 arrangement place it well ahead of Maingear's Vybe Super Stock where gaming results are concerned. But if you aren't wary of tinkering you could potentially take the $400 you saved, buy a second GTX 570, and leapfrog Origin's performance without much effort.

Such is generally the case with boutique PC vendors -- remember, you're paying for careful assembly, customer service, and potent overclocks, but there's generally always room to add your own finishing touches. Is it worth it? I think so. If you're looking for a simple, powerful desktop and have about $2300 to spend, this Origin Genesis could fit the bill. Not only does it deliver the goods, and runs circles around machines that are far pricier -- though that's likely to change as Sandy Bridge spreads. But right now, it sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Origin's “low-end” Genesis is anything but: traditional mid-range components are joined by a heap of RAM and a pair of Nvidia graphics cards in SLI.

    Pros

    • Neat, organized interior
    • Excellent performance

    Cons

    • Case is rather plain
    • Not much upgrade room
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