Origin Millennium PC Review

on Monday, October 13, 2014
Companies like Origin PC and its competitors are famous for letting you order anything from an affordable (well, semi-affordable) entry-level rig to a fire-breathing monster truck of a system stuffed with the latest and greatest components.
But while it's hardly the only vendor to offer a choice of power supplies or multiple graphics cards, no one else to our knowledge has offered the option Origin does with the Millennium tested here: a choice at configuration time of four motherboard layouts, standard, inverted, 90-degree standard, or 90-degree inverted. This means you can choose to have the CPU and slots facing either the left or right side of the chassis and the backplane ports facing either the rear or the top.


Origin Millennium standard mobo mount
This promo shot from Origin shows a Millennium with four GeForce cards visible through the windowed left side of the system.


Origin Millennium inverted mobo mount
This photo of our test system shows its two GeForce cards through the windowed right side of the rig.


Apart from that unique piece of flexibility, the Millennium shows the kind of contrast between mass-market retail and no-compromise specialty systems that we talked about in our recent review of theLenovo Erazer X510£1,299.99 at PC World. Priced at $4,246, our system boasted an Intel Core i7-4790K processor overclocked from its stock speed of 4.0GHz to just south of 5.0GHz; 16GB of DDR3-1866 memory; two Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards with 3GB of GDDR5 memory apiece; a 500GB solid-state boot drive plus a 3TB hard drive in one of the five available hot-swappable bays; and a 16X Blu-ray drive.

Too extreme for you? Not extreme enough? Origin will let you get in on the fun with a lower-end Millennium starting at $1,564 or let you deck out a Z97 or X99 system with every available upgrade and spend about ten times that amount. But as equipped, our test unit pretty well meets the performance needs of just about any gamer. Anything further would be just for bragging rights.


The Millennium more or less exemplifies what you want and expect a gaming system to look like. With its matte black surface, nice angles, and LED lighting, it's impossible to mistake this for a general-purpose or business system. But we'll stop short of calling it sleek only because it's so…big.
According to Origin, Millenniums are mid-tower systems, with the company's Genesis$2,056.00 at Origin PC being its full-tower line. But at 21.4 by 9.8 by 24.8 inches and at a weight of 60 pounds, nothing about our review unit seemed mid-sized to us. And considering how hernia-inducingly heavy the system is, we were surprised by how much of the case is plastic over a steel frame. On the plus side, you're unlikely to ever want for space in this case. Even with two full-sized graphics cards installed, the inside of the case feels downright roomy.
Origin Millennium front door
With its swinging door closed, the front of the Millennium looks pretty minimalist, with just the red backlit Origin logo near the top and a track of additional multicolor lights along each side. Swing it open, and you'll have access to the Blu-ray drive as well as to the five available hot-swappable drive bays, one of which was occupied by a 3TB hard drive in our review system. A panel at top front provides USB ports and audio jacks, with the rest of the case's top giving access to the motherboard's rear-panel connectivity options and expansion slots—our mainboard was turned 90 degrees, a configuration choice that Origin says provides maximum heat dissipation.
Both of our Millennium's side panels were bright red, but buyers will find no shortage of color options available when customizing their own systems. These include solid colors, themes, and even custom paint jobs. One of the side panels, furthermore, is windowed, letting you view the light show the Millennium is capable of putting on.

Getting into the case is about as easy as it can possibly be and doesn't even involve the use of a thumbscrew: You just pull on the plastic tab near the top rear corner of the case, and the panel will pop out of place. Just take note of Origin's warnings about not trying to lift the system from anywhere except the front and rear handles at the bottom of the case, as the plastic molding at the top may look like handgrips but can't bear all that weight. Also removable are plastic mesh panels covering the top and rear of the case, though what you have plugged into the connections may limit your ability to keep those panels on.


Once inside, as we said, we were pleasantly surprised at how roomy it is. And while all of the components inside mean there's a need for plenty of cables, Origin has done a great job of keeping things nice and neat by routing them through the space available behind the motherboard. This, combined with the modular power supply and its red-sleeved cables and the Millennium's LED lighting options, results in about as attractive an interior as we've seen.
A tiny supplied remote control lets you adjust the lighting options, with 16 color choices plus patterns that can fade or flash from color to color, or try to induce seizures by emulating a strobe light. You can also adjust the brightness of the lights or, if desired, turn most of them off.
Origin Millennium front ports
As we mentioned, the front of the case is largely hidden away by a swinging door that lets you access the Blu-ray drive and the five hot-swappable drive bays. The top front panel gives you access to power and reset buttons, controllers for the system's cooling fans, headphone and microphone ports, and four USB 3.0 ports.
Moving further along the top of the case, you'll find the ports that would normally be around the back—four additional USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, audio jacks, a S/PDIF port, a PS/2 port for that old keyboard or mouse that you've decided to hold onto until the bitter end, and some video output ports that you'll never use. Instead, you'll make use of the two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort provided by one of the two Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards.


Origin Millennium top ports


Wireless networking and Bluetooth capabilities are unfortunately not provided by the Asus Maximus VII Ranger motherboard that our review system featured, though buyers who consider Wi-Fi a must are able to choose another motherboard during the customization process.
Moving into the case, you'll find the 4.0GHz Intel Core i7-4790K processor—factory overclocked so that it runs at speeds of up to 4.9GHz, making Origin's Frostbyte 240 sealed liquid cooling system an important component to mention. Additional cooling is provided by 120mm case fans mounted at the top and bottom of the case, which you'll have no trouble finding thanks to the significant but not overly annoying noise they make.


Origin Millennium interior


One of the front-panel controls lets you control how fast these fans whir. But before you lower them in hopes of creating a quieter gaming experience, fire up a game and hold your hand in the slipstream. The heat the fans help to pump out of the case of an overclocked system with two high-end video cards, we think, makes up for the sound they produce.  
Two of the DIMM slots on the motherboard are occupied by the Millennium's 16GB of DDR3-1866 memory, with two more available should you wish to upgrade to the mainboard's maximum of 32GB. Also provided by the motherboard are two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, and three PCIe x1 slots, with two x16 slots occupied by the graphics cards.
The 850-watt Corsair RM850 modular power supply included in our review system provides ample power without creating unnecessary clutter. But if you're looking for even more, perhaps because you've decided to switch out the motherboard for one that supports as many as four graphics cards, Origin has a number of PSUs, providing as much as 1.6 kilowatts of power, available during the customization process.


Origin Millennium power supply unit


Our Millennium's OS was Microsoft Windows 8.1, though Origin's configurator offers both the Home and Professional versions of Windows 7. It also came with CyberLink's PowerDVD 14 Ultra to play Blu-ray discs on the optical drive, but was otherwise pretty much free of bloatware. A recovery flash drive, which you can use to get your PC back to factory status, is included with each Origin system.
Origin's default warranty combines lifetime tech support with one year of parts replacement, lifetime labor, and 45 days of free shipping. You can upgrade this to include a full year of free shipping, extend the parts replacement coverage to three years, or both. A final option worth noting is Origin's "Evolve" upgrade option, which allows you to pay for either a two- or three-year period during which you will be able to get credit for your original components when upgrading them through Origin.

Performance & Conclusion

With its overclocked Core i7-4790K CPU, dual GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards, and 16GB of fast DDR3, we had high expectations for the Origin Millennium's performance. And for the most part, those expectations were met.
For our comparison charts, we pitted the Millennium against another Core i7-4790K tower with dual 780 Ti's, the Velocity Micro Edge Z55$1,699.00 at Velocity Micro (see the review at our sister site PCMag.com), as well as a Core i7-4790K with a single 780 Ti, the Digital Storm Bolt II$3,049.00 at Rakuten, and the Core i7-4770K-powered Lenovo Erazer X510.
In PCMark 8, a synthetic suite whose Work scenario assesses overall system performance for tasks like word processing and spreadsheeting, all of the systems were well into the territory where you can't perceive any difference for office productivity jobs. (Update 9/25/14: We replaced the chart below after retesting knocked the Lenovo's score from an outlying 5,005 points to a more rational 3,849.)


Origin Millennium PCMark 8 Work


In our CPU-crunching Cinebench test, which renders a complex image to show a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads, the Millennium took the gold medal.


Origin Millennium Cinebench


Multimedia Tests

The three "Devil's Canyon" systems basically tied for the win in our Handbrake video editing benchmark, which puts a stopwatch on systems as they transcode a five-minute 1080p clip to smartphone format.


Origin Millennium Handbrake


Much the same happened in our Adobe Photoshop image editing test, which applies a series of complex filters and effects to a large JPEG.


Origin Millennium Photoshop


Graphics & Gaming Tests

The Millennium topped its rivals in the tough Fire Strike Extreme portion of our overall graphics assessment 3DMark.


Origin Millennium 3DMark


The Origin slugged it out with the Velocity Micro in our DirectX 11 gaming sims Valley and Heaven.


Origin Millennium Heaven


Origin Millennium Valley


We also tried three Steam games at their highest quality settings. At 1,920x1,080 resolution, Tomb Raider managed 184 frames per second, Sleeping Dogs 150, and Metro Last Light 85. At 4K (3,840x2,160) resolution, Tomb Raider posted 65fps to Sleeping Dogs' 38 and Metro's 31.


If money is no object, space is abundant, and heavy lifting doesn't scare you, the Origin Millennium is a system you'll want to have on your short list. It's not a perfect system, of course, as none is. But it looks good, performs admirably, and offers a great deal of flexibility, not only to buyers who wish to customize it to their liking during the buying process but also to those who may choose to upgrade it down the line.


Origin Millennium cooler


We're not sure how many potential customers have always wanted a tower with a choice of window on the left or right side of the case—or how many might take advantage of Origin's ultimate after-purchase upgrade offer, which is to ship your Millennium back to the factory to have it turned into a Genesis. But we appreciate flexibility, albeit not as much as we appreciate performance, and the Millennium has plenty of both.


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