Origin PC Chronos Review: A Powerful Small Form Factor Desktop PC For 4K Gaming
Origin PC Chronos: Performance Summary And Conclusion
Performance Summary: Who says you need a giant system for playing games at 4K resolution? Certainly not Origin PC, which proves otherwise with its Chronos, a small form factor system that packs big performance into a tiny footprint. While not the fastest system we've laid hands on, the Chronos (as configured) did perform better in games than any other system we've tested with a single graphics card inside. Origin PC obviously benefits from timing—it's the first system builder to send us a configuration with a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphic card inside, but combined with expert part selection and a 600MHz overclock, the Chronos waltzed through our gaming benchmarks with aplomb. It was even able to top 100 frames per second at 4K resolution in games such as Grand Theft Auto V and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
The Chronos is exactly what a small form factor gaming PC should be like. It is one of the least bulky systems we've ever seen, but when you put the pedal to the metal, it comfortably drives 4K gaming in most titles. Granted, Origin PC should share the praise with NVIDIA, which hit a home-run with its GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. But it was Origin PC that figured out a way to cram such a beastly card into an slim and attractive chassis, and then surround it with performance parts.
If we are to nitpick, we can point out that the CPU's liquid cooling fan and GPU cooling solution can get a little loud when the action is hot and heavy. More annoying is the clicking sound that comes from the hard drive, which is a normal part of its operation. But these are small complaints that do not detract from the overall package.
Of course, this level of performance is not to be attained by saving nickels and dimes from a paper route. As configured, the Chronos we tested topped $3,100. Pricing actually starts at under $1,200, though that drops you down to a dual-core processor and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, among other downgrades. However, that is the way it goes when it comes to gaming PCs—the fastest parts carry a premium price tag. The more important takeaway is that despite the small size of the Chronos, it will accommodate a selection of full-size desktop parts, provided your budget allows.
Where Origin PC draws the line is in the number of graphics cards that can be stuffed inside the Chronos. At only 4 inches wide, you're limited to a single GPU, and even that required getting creative—Origin PC uses a PCIe riser cable. We're not real critical of that limitation because as we saw in our benchmarks, the Chronos performs exceptionally well with a single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. And if you really need a little more oomph, you can select a Titan Xp instead, or wait and see what AMD's forthcoming Radeon RX Vega cards bring to the table.
The bottom line is this—the Chronos is a pint-sized power-house that can stand toe-to-toe with much larger (and more expensive) gaming systems. For the most part, performance is not bound by how big the Chronos is, but the size of your budget.
Update June 1, 2017We've updated our "Software and BIOS" page to reflect the fact that Origin PC overclocked the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti before shipping the Chronos to us, but that it was overwritten by a Windows update. Origin PC charges $50 to overclock the GPU. That is something you can do yourself, though it can sometimes be time consuming to test for stability. Furthermore, Origin PC guarantees its overclock, so there is some value there as well. As it pertains to this test system, had Windows not prevented the overclocked profile from loading, performance would have been even higher. This is indicated by 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme showing about a 5-6 percent gain.