|There's a new company joining the ranks of boutique system builders with customization options that could turn the head of even the most die-hard DIY-er. The paint is scarcely dry on the Origin logo—the business opened on November 17th—but the corporation's three founders each spent a decade at Alienware prior to founding Origin. Their collective expertise is already evident; Origin offers unique customization options that set a new bar for what constitutes a "customizable" system. In this preview, we'll examine both the nascent company and the design of the review system it sent for evaluation; hard numbers will follow.
If You Can Buy It, They Can Build It
Origin offers all of the typical custom options you'd expect from an enthusiast-oriented manufacturer, but then takes the design process a step further. Potential customers are invited to select their own chassis if they don't like Origin's options, or alternately have the option of shipping their own chassis directly to the company. The system's exterior can be customized in a similar manner—in addition to the metallic and solid-color finishes available, would-be artists can submit their own visual themes or designs.
Origin has partnered with Killer Paint for its custom airbrush work, which should ensure top-notch quality. Customers who submit their own artistic work also receive 3D renderings of how the design will look and can tweak the design
An example of Killer Paint's work.
accordingly. Even the system logo is customizable; the company informed us that customers have the option of stamping their notebook or desktop with whatever name or design suits their fancy.
The company's internal component options are bog standard and run the gamut of price points and manufacturers, save for motherboards. Here, options are limited and almost entirely EVGA-centric—Core i7 buyers can choose between the EVGA X58 SLI Classified and the EVGA SLI Micro. Both Core i5 and AMD users are stuck with single-board options; the Core i5 is partnered with the EVGA P55 FTW, while AMD users are limited to the Asus M4A79T Deluxe. Hopefully we'll see more options in 2010—Origin, after all, is just six weeks old.
When we talked to Origin about its configuration options, the company assured us that it'll build with any hardware from any vendor the customer desires.
Origin's approach to warranty service is summed up neatly in the image below (stolen from their website):
High-end OEMs tend to offer better default warranty terms than Dell or HP might on your next $299 desktop purchase. Origin is no exception here, but the company also includes a few unique perks that we've not seen elsewhere. First, every system the company builds is assigned to a particular representative whose job it is to handle any issues that arise with your particular system. Said representatives are also located in the US, which reduces the chance that you'll be stuck with "Frank," who sounds as though he's speaking at 45 RPM.
Aren't you glad you bought the two-year warranty?
The company's terms and conditions for product service and replacement are fairly standard but Origin includes lifetime free labor in even the basic warranty bundle. The company's definition of what situations qualify for free labor is also broader than one might expect. Customers who want to upgrade their systems but are leery of digging around in the case always have the option of shipping the system (along with parts they've already purchased) to Origin for free hardware installation.
The company's free labor guarantee extends well beyond simple hardware upgrades. Assume a customer buys an Origin PC with a one year standard warranty. 18 months later (well outside the warranty period), the motherboard in the system dies.
The customer now has several options:
In addition to installing and configuring the new hardware, Origin will also reinstall the operating system and create a new factory default image for the hardware. Since the company actually ships a genuine Windows 7 disc this is less of an issue, but OEM install discs can still come in handy. Shipping a new image to the customer ensures that they won't effectively lose access to their original images thanks to a motherboard upgrade.
|The Case: Corsair's Obsidian Series 800D|
|Corsair's Obsidian Series 800D:
The thumbnails above link to larger images and are a good way to get a feel for how the 800D is built and what features it offers without a bunch of hardware getting in the way. The front of the case is subdued, with both the front panel and the hot-swappable drive bays hidden behind doors. In addition to the four hot-swappable 3.5" bays, the case offers two additional internal 3.5" bays as well. That's support for six hard drives standard, with an additional five 5.25" bays open if you choose to use drive extenders.
There are several notable features visible in the case's interior. First, the area directly underneath the CPU can be accessed by a rear-mounted hatch. This vastly simplifies the mounting of certain heatsinks or coolers to the motherboard; it's no longer necessary to physically yank the board to swap out cooling solutions.
Corsair has designed the case to minimize cable clutter whether the customer is using air or water cooling. The plethora of pre-cut ports make it possible to reroute nearly every cable behind the motherboard, though this may require longer cables in some instances.
The front panel offers a standard series of connections—four USB 2 ports, a headphone/microphone jack, and a FireWire 400 port are all included. The case is apparently available without a side window, but both the SKU on Corsair's website and the case Origin sent us included one.
|The System: Origin's Genesis Desktop|
Now that you've seen the system specs on paper (and they're pretty darn fine), let's peak inside the case.
The photo on the left shows the Corsair 800D's side window, while the thumbnail on the right details the installed configuration we received. If you look just to the right of the video cards, you'll notice a plastic cover that's been opened. This backplane connects to each of the installed SATA drives in a configuration that vastly simplifies cable clutter.
The CPU socket and rear side of the motherboard. Note that the hatch behind the CPU socket allows comfortable access to the heatsink mounting hardware. This accomplishes two things. First, it gives the user room to work, and second, it ensures this feature of the 800D will be accessible to virtually any motherboard from Intel or AMD.
The behind-the-scenes cable routing isn't the most elegant we've ever seen, but there's plenty of room for the clutter behind the motherboard tray and it remains out of sight.
Origin's Genesis desktop is well-built and the company stands firmly behind its product. In light of its specifications, this system should offer absolute top-end performance—a topic we'll investigate in the final review. Stay tuned to HotHardware for the full scoop just after our CES coverage.