For the rest of us, Metro 2033 is the most relevant test in our gaming battery, and there the Origin's performance demonstrates this PC's horsepower, as well as its value. The Falcon Northwest Mach V outperforms the Origin system at 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, but only by a few frames per second, and you'll need to pay about $5,000 for the privilege. Not only is the Origin system only a few frames behind at that resolution, it offers more than three times as much performance on that test at 2,560x1,600 pixels.
The Origin's success on that test is most likely a function of its vast stores of video memory and raw GPU horsepower. What those results tell us about its performance in general is that this system can play the most demanding current titles at the highest single-monitor resolutions and image quality settings. It also bodes well for the Origin's future. It will be a long time before you find a game this computer can't play well.
After weighing both the GPU and CPU performance of the Origin Genesis, the question is whether it delivers enough value for its $3,399 price tag. The Velocity Micro Edge Z55 is an imperfect comparison because you can't configure that system to match the Origin's pair of GeForce GTX 680 cards. The closest system I found with the Core i7-2700K processor and the same 3D card is the Digital Storm Slade. Configure that PC to match the Origin as closely as possible, and the price comes out to $3,395 -- almost exactly the same as the Origin's.
Still, to truly gauge the Origin's value, we must wait to see what happens with the pricing and availability of the Core i7-2700K chip after the launch of the Core i7-3770K. Only if the older chip becomes scarce, or if its price doesn't drop, will it be safe to conclude that Origin is asking a fair price for the Genesis and its Core i7-3770K relative to its performance.
Connectivity and expansion
Intel will be introducing high-speed ports to Windows PCs later this year. Microsoft is also promising Windows 8 for the fall. Both of those factors are also potentially reasons to wait before making a major new PC purchase.
I say "potentially" because the focus on Windows 8 has so far been its touch-driven interface. PC gamers don't care about touch input, so it's possible that Windows 7 will still be relevant on PCs like the Genesis.
Thunderbolt ports might have a greater impact. The primary usage for Thunderbolt, outside of connecting an Apple laptop to an Apple display, is high-speed data transfers. If you buy a high-end gaming PC for a professional environment, for coding or video editing, for example, you might reasonably want to wait for Thunderbolt.
You might also want Thunderbolt as a 3D graphics upgrade path. PCs six months from now could conceivably offer a whole new upgrade opportunity via external graphics card modules you connect via a Thunderbolt port. Such a feature would greatly extend the life of a gaming PC, or possibly upend the PC gaming hardware market entirely. That, too, could be worth waiting for.
Near-future developments aside, the Genesis and its Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe motherboard offer some of the most expansive connectivity options available. On the back of the case you get six USB 3.0 ports, to accompany the four USB 3.0 ports on the front. That's more USB 3.0 ports on a single PC than we've ever seen. Whether you'll use them all to their full potential is another question, but at least you have them.
You will also find a few more standard USB 2.0 inputs, eSATA jacks, and 7.1 audio and S/PDIF audio jacks. Each graphics card also provides a pair of DVI ports, an HDMI output, and a DisplayPort jack, and each card can support up to four monitors. Sadly, that does not scale to eight-screen support when you have a second graphics card.
For internal expansion, you get three free hard-drive bays, a pair of 1x PCI Express slots, and a spare standard PCI slot. The memory slots are all occupied, but with 16GB resident already, only the most demanding users will feel the need to opt for 32GB or more.
Although I was underwhelmed by the Core i7-3770K's performance, it can at least boast greater power efficiency thanks in part to its new 22-nanometer manufacturing process. The new GeForce GTX 680 card also brings new efficiency, and despite posting roughly equivalent CPU performance and demonstrating measurably faster 3D horsepower, the Origin Genesis only draws a modest amount of power relative to its competition. Averaging about $7, the Origin Genesis' monthly power cost will make its presence known on your power bill, but probably won't strain the budget of anyone who can afford such a computer to begin with.
Service and support
Origin promises lifetime in-house phone and online service for the Genesis, as well as lifetime labor coverage. The default parts warranty only covers you for a year, though. Falcon Northwest offers three years of parts coverage for every Mach V. Both vendors offer discretionary shipping coverage if you send your PC in for repair; although Falcon explicitly states that it will pay for overnight shipping both ways should it be necessary to send the system in, Origin offers similar shipping coverage, but only for the first 45 days after purchase.
This Origin Genesis has all of the hallmarks of a top-end gaming desktop, from expert construction to enviable 3D performance. My reservations come primarily from the absence of any major performance gains from Intel's new Core i7-3770K CPU, and secondarily from the introduction of Windows 8 and Thunderbolt ports later this year. If you need a gaming PC today, this system would be a worthy possibility. Just be sure to wait a week or two to see how the rest of the boutique market applies Intel's new Ivy Bridge CPUs, and keep an eye out for good deals on Core i7-2700K and 2600K chips.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Digital Storm ODE Level 3 (Core i7-2600K, spring 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Intel solid-state drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit; 4.4GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (3)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics cards; 128GB Crucial solid-state drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-2600K; 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti graphics cards; 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.6GHz Intel Core i7-3770K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards; (2) 60GB Corasir Force GT solid state drives; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.9GHz Intel Core i7-2700K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards; (2) 60GB Intel solid-state drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-3930K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards; (2)128GB Patriot Wildfire solid-state drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive