Origin Genesis Desktop Gaming System Preview


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.

An example of Killer Paint's work.

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
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:
  • Ship the system to Origin and request they replace the motherboard with an equivalent product.
  • Ship the system to Origin with a motherboard provided.
  • Ship the system to Origin and request that they source a particular motherboard, or a motherboard with a particular set of features.

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.

Anyone who has ever had to contact a company for warranty support knows that there's a vast difference between corporations that emphasize providing a good customer experience and those that focus on finding a reason to refuse coverage. Based on our discussions with the company and their answers as to whether or not products would be covered under certain specific conditions, we feel comfortable saying that Origin takes its customer service and satisfaction very seriously. Even when we presented them with tricky corner cases, the company erred on the side of providing a positive customer experience and emphasized its willingness to work with customers to hand-tailor both an initial order and any eventual upgrades.

The only downside to Origin's extensive warranty service is that the company explicitly does not agree to cover damage incurred as a result of nuclear war, zombie apocalypse, epidemics, alien occupation, or armed insurrection. In the event of a velociraptor attack, however, Origin will apparently insure the system.

Now that we've covered the company, let's take a look at their test system, starting with the case. 

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