The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
When ASRock launched their mini-ITX X99 motherboard (yes, the one with the ILM LGA-2011 v3 socket that was only compatible with very few AIO water coolers), many were thinking up tiny, yet incredibly powerful gaming rigs. The ASRock X99E-ITX/ac is pretty much the only mini-ITX X99 consumer motherboard, and it's packed with features. The only downside to the motherboard is that it only has two memory DIMMs, but since it's the only mini-ITX X99 motherboard, most people don't mind.
The guys over at Origin decided to build the smallest X99 gaming PC they could, so they custom designed an SFF PC case that would not only stylishly show off a full-sized GPU, but would allow you to overclock both the CPU and GPU. In the case of our Chronos, it's an overclocked 6950X and overclocked GTX 1080 Founders Edition - pretty much the best consumer parts on the market.
Origin's custom case makes the most use of empty space in the case, and there is almost none. They even fit in an AIO watercooler for the CPU, and extension cable for the AC power for the STX PSU, and provide a riser card to mount the GPU face up. It's really quite ingenious, and I always get asked where people can buy the Chronos case since it's so well designed.
Its minimalist qualities can easily fool you, but it's a solid contender to take with you to LANs or just anywhere you need a PC but don't want $4K+ to be obvious about its price tag.
Our configuration consists of an overclocked 6950X, an ASRock X99E-ITX/ac motherboard, an overclocked GTX 1080 Founder Edition, a Corsair 600W STX PSU, Origin's FROSTBYTE 120 liquid cooling unit, 16GB ORIGIN 2666MHz memory, Windows 10 Home, a 256GB Samsung 950 Pro, a 4TB Seagate Solid State Hybrid Drive, and a one-year warranty.
The PC is very small, less than 12" high and 4" wide.
The Chronos in this configuration costs roughly $4,400, although there are cheaper and even more expensive configurations available.
You know something is expensive when it comes in a wooden crate. The crate is reusable since it is held together with Phillips head screws; you do not need a wedge to pry it open. The PC is secured in the center of the box through two large foam pieces.
Our package included a t-shirt, two SATA cables, a USB stick with the recovery image, WIFI antenna, GPU power connector, power cable, magnetic rubber feet, USB 3.0 to 2.0 internal header converter, and the manuals and paper documentation regarding each piece of the PC.
The front of the PC features the Origin logo that lights up, a power button, reset button, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, and microphone jack. The rear of the unit features three DisplayPorts, HDMI, DVI, 7.1 audio ports, two USB 3.1 type-A ports, two 1Gbit LAN ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, WIFI antenna connectors, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, a ClearCMOS button, and the AC power port.
The windowed door of the PC has multiple hexagonal vent holes over the intake fan of the GPU and the CPU cooler. The window also perfectly displays the GPU. The rear panel has some more air vent holes.
The top and bottom of the PC feature more vent holes. The rubber feet can magnetically attach to the chassis.
Physical Overview Continued
The Origin symbol that lights up can be rotated so that users can sit the PC upright or on its side.
Thumbscrews secure the window panel to the case. I really like how Origin designed the case with a nice window over the GPU.
Origin decided to produce a very slim case, lay the GPU out parallel to the motherboard, and use an extension cord to move the STX PSU to the front of the case. The layout leaves room above the motherboard, and Origin is using one of the only AIO's with short tubes and ILM mounting (the ORIGIN FROSTBYTE 120), its single radiator sits right above the CPU with a 120mm slim performance fan attached.
Right below and parallel to the motherboard, the GPU is rotated 90 degrees from the PCI-E x16 slot on the motherboard, using a custom riser card, similar to what MSI uses in the AEGIS. The storage HDD is located right below the GPU, and you can add more storage right above the PSU.
An RGB light strip is glued to the top of the unit and does an excellent job of illuminating the PC. There is no RGB LED controller; our unit came with red LEDs. The 950 Pro is well situated below the CPU, and they use zip ties to bend the USB 3.0 cable, so it doesn't hit anything.
The GPU is attached to the motherboard through a PCI-E riser card, and it is secured at its rear end with a bracket.
Software and BIOS
ORIGIN decided to use EVGA's Prevision X OC to overclock the GTX 1080 Founder Edition GPU. They added 175MHz to the core, 275MHz to the memory, and increased temperature and power targets. Precision X 16 Server is also installed and allows you to setup an OSD in multiple programs.
Intel's Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 driver and software packaged is installed, and it allows core prioritization for overclocking.
Audio control is provided through Realtek's HD Audio Manager, but you can also use Window's audio control.
ORIGIN's overclock resulted in a 4.1GHz overclock on the CPU core through the BIOS, and XMP memory overclocking to 2666MHz through the BIOS. If you have to clear the CMOS, the ORIGINPC profile will apply the overclock.
They are using adaptive voltage more for the core with a 1.26v VCore, and a +0.01v offset for the input voltage. If you add another drive and need to change the boot order, that is possible through the UEFI. In fact, this is the UEFI that comes with the motherboard if you were to buy it separately.
Test Setup & System Performance Benchmarks
Steven's Gaming System Test Setup
- System: ORIGIN CHRONOS
- Monitor: ASUS 4K ProArt PA328 Monitor
- Keyboard: Corsair M65 PRO RGB Gaming Mouse
- Mouse: Corsair K70 Gaming Keyboard
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless Gaming Headset
The PC is so small, yet looks so cool. The LED lights do a nice job of adding to the ambiance. The Origin logo and the inside of the case light up.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
Handbrake 4K and 720P Transcoding
The CPU in the Chronos has many more cores than the other gaming PCs in our charts, and it blows them away. However, that isn't the end of the story; ORIGIN also overclocked the Chronos, so it tops our charts.
Chronos is not only smaller than almost all of the PCs in our charts, but it's also faster.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
UNIGINE Heaven 4.0
Ashes of Singularity
Final Fantasy XIV
An overclocked i7-6950X teamed up with an overclocked GTX 1080 Founder Edition produces the best numbers in our gaming charts.
It really is one of the better tiny gaming PCs on the market, but it comes at a price.
System IO Performance
System IO Benchmarks
Internal Storage Read Test:
Internal Storage Write Test:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The 950 Pro is extremely fast, and even the 4TB storage drive produces excellent numbers compared to HDD storage in other devices.
The Wireless AC controller and Wired Ethernet controller of the ASRock X99E-ITX/ac are very good and perform admirably.
Thermal Performance and Power Consumption
The idle and load shots show the side panel with the window; this is where the AIO water cooling radiator's fan sends the heat. I only saw a few degrees increase in temperature, which is quite amazing.
The idle and load shots show the rear of the unit, where the GPU's exhaust fan sends the hot air. There is a much more noticeable increase in temperatures, but still not that hot.
The good news is that the unit doesn't get very loud under CPU loads, and that is because of the AIO cooler.
The Chronos is the most powerful gaming PC in the charts, and as such uses the most power from the wall. It's definitely not a power sipper; rather it's a power gulper.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the Origin Chronos SFF PC.
i7-6950X and GTX 1080 Founder Edition Overclocked: Intel's most powerful 10-core 20-thread i7-6950X behemoth paired with NVIDIA's most powerful consumer GPU produces one very fast and capable machine. If we look at other PCs in our gaming charts, many of them have the same GPU, but the 6950X helps move the bar up with all of its cores and unleashes the full potential of the GPU. ORIGIN also overclocks both the CPU and GPU, just to make sure they have one of the fastest PCs on the block.
Custom Mini Case Design: Origin has made the best use of space within their custom case. Everything is in close proximity, and this is only possible if Origin had designed the case for this specific hardware. I really like how they were able to fit in an AIO water cooling unit. The Origin Chronos has to have one of the highest performance to cubic inch ratios on the market.
Noise and Thermals: I was surprised at how well the Chronos handled heavy loads. The GPU is always fed fresh air through the vents in the window right above the fan intake, and the CPU has an AIO unit capable of handling the overclock on the CPU. The result is a mini PC that doesn't roar like it's being choked, but instead hums when under extreme stress.
Aesthetics: Most full-tower PCs can't even get close to the Chronos regarding aesthetics. The way the Chronos displays the GPU under the window is something many will agree looks awesome and has a very unique look. I really like how the internals are lit up by the LED strip, and how the light protrudes the vents. The white finish and minimalistic design are what many are looking for, and the Chronos delivers.
Pricey: The Chronos doesn't have much competition on the market, at least not regarding PCs of the same size, and it is priced accordingly. You do get what you pay for, though.
LEDs not RGB: You can choose between red, blue, and green LEDs for the internal lighting of the PC, but RGB is not currently an option.
The Chronos is the most powerful gaming PC I have tested to date, and it is also one of the smallest. It weighs a lot, but its compact size is super impressive. I remember my early PC building days, and one of my dream builds was a sleeper; the most powerful PC parts in an unassuming package. The Origin Chronos is the definition of a sleeper PC. It will wreck most full-tower gaming PCs on the market with ease.
I could not find much that I did not like about the Chronos. It is extremely well designed, and comes with a ton of options. You can add some more storage, but regarding RAM and other aspects such as PCI-E cards, you cannot really upgrade it much.
I really admire how Origin took a novel product and built an excellent custom gaming PC around the idea of maximizing performance per liter - they succeeded.
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||95%|
|Value for Money||85%|
The Bottom Line: Origin's Chronos Gaming PC, without a doubt, tops our charts in regards to performance and takes the crown even at half the size as the other contenders.
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