Boutique gaming PC company Origin PC has been making built-to-order desktops and laptops, such as this Millennium model, for several years now. But thanks to an ever-changing roster of available components, today's system may be nearly totally different from an example only a couple of years old.
Case in point, our main interest in this desktop PC is the latest-and-greatest components packed into it, Intel's Core i7and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 graphics cards, both parts new enough that this is the first system we've had a chance to test them in.
Many desktop and laptop gaming systems built by boutique companies are essentially high-end parts inside generic off-the-shelf cases, and these designs usually don't reflect the high prices and attention to detail found inside the plastic and aluminum cases. In this example, however, the Millennium is actually built into a very interesting box. The midtower desktop chassis, designed by Origin PC, works in both ATX and inverted ATX positions, and can rotate its motherboard and components by 90 degrees in both instances, giving you a total of four starting shapes.
If you need a refresher course on desktop building (and in today's laptop and tablet dominated world, who doesn't?), ATX is a common motherboard form factor, and in some desktop cases, including this one, you can choose whether the window on the side of the case, through which you can see the internal components, will be on the right or left side. Rotating the motherboard by 90 degrees puts the graphics cards at the top, pointing down, and can help with heat dissipation, and just looks cool.
You can get the Millennium from Origin PC starting for around $1,500, but that's pretty far removed from the configuration we tested. Moving up to one of Intel's new Haswell-E series CPUs, the octa-core Core i7 5960X, mounted on an X99 chipset motherboard, and adding not one or two, but three brand-new Nvidia GTX 980 graphics cards gives us a total price of $5,999.
Origin PC has an Australian site, and the closest available configuration there comes out to AU$7,406. For the UK, the company allows you to order from the US site (this would be £3,759), and then will contact you with a custom shipping quote.
Is that a realistic purchase for even the most serious PC gamers? Probably not, but it's a good opportunity to test this new Intel and Nvidia hardware, in a system built, tweaked, burned in, and backed up by people who know what they're doing. You can dial down to the lower-end Haswell-E chip, the six-core Core i7 5820, plus a single Nvidia GTX 980 graphics card for a more reasonable $2,853. If you're not interested in Haswell-E or Nvidia's 900-series desktop GPUs, there are many reasonably priced off-the-shelf gaming desktops out there from Alienware, Lenovo and others, but they certainly won't include the same bragging rights.
|PC Geekbox||Origin PC Millennium|
|Price as reviewed||$5,999|
|PC CPU||3.6GHz Intel Core i7-5960X|
|PC Memory||16GB 2,133MHz DDR4 SDRAM|
|Graphics||(3) 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980|
|Storage||1TB SSD + 4TB 7,200rpm HDD|
|Optical drive||BD/DVD writer|
|Networking||(2) Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Windows 8 (64-bit)|
Design and features
It's almost shocking to see a big desktop PC box in 2014. Compared to the slim laptops that dominate the consumer computer market, occasional small-chassis desktops, or even power systems such as the elegant Mac Pro, the hulking Millennium body feels like a retro throwback to the days when full-size desktop was practically required for even midlevel PC gaming.
Even more shocking, the Millennium is actually what we'd call a midtower case, not even the largest of the large. A full-tower version, called the Genesis, is larger, and a sold-separately conversion kit can add the extra height and fan-or-hard-drive compartment that marks the difference between the two designs.
As it stands, the Millennium, a custom design from Origin PC, stands about 21 inches high, 24 inches deep and 9 inches (53.3 centimeters by 61 cm by 23 cm) across. Weight can vary depending on components, but averages about 60 pounds (27.2 kg). The next time you complain about a 5-pound laptop, keep that 60-pound number in mind.
With the previously mentioned variable mounting for four distinct internal layouts, you can stick the Millennium under a desk or next to a TV and almost always have it at a good angle for easy access to the internal components. Despite the massive price and heft, the case itself feels like it has too much plastic, and creaks a bit as it moves. The top panels, again mostly plastic, have cutouts and overhangs that look and feel like handles, but an included note warns against using them to lift or move the chassis.
Under the plastic, however, is what Origin PC calls a "server-grade steel frame." The metal frame helps with heat dissipation, especially important in this high-powered setup. There are also copious vents and fans, and a liquid cooling system for the overclocked CPU.
The hinged front door can be configured to open from the left or right, and inside you'll find five drive bays (one of ours was filled with a Blu-ray burner), and five vertically mounted hot-swappable hard-drive cages. Storage needs for computers are being pulled in two directions simultaneously, with cloud storage and services lessening the need for local storage, while large game downloads and 4K video files mean some people need more storage than ever.
Connections, performance and battery
Your connections, including video and networking ports, will depend on which components you choose. In our case, we had three video cards' worth of HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI connections. The easier-to-access ports on the top panel of the system included four USB 3.0 ports, headphone and mic jacks, fan controls and power and reset buttons.