At CES 2015, Origin teased a new line of home theater PCs called Omega. Details were slim at the time, but what Origin told us indicated that this line of HTPCs would be different than others, making gaming a top priority. Today, Origin launched the Omega HTPCs and gave us some more information about its latest product.
Omega comes in five different models, with the base model starting at $999. It houses an Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition Dual-Core processor that's overclocked to 4.5 GHz and placed on an ASUS H97 Mini-ITX motherboard. The HTPCs' graphics are handled by NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 960 (2 GB), and there's 8 GB of Origin-branded 1600 MHz RAM. Storage is limited to only a 500 GB HDD. As for the operating system, the base model runs on Windows 8.1 Home.
If the base model isn't powerful enough for your needs, especially with the CPU bottlenecking the full power of the new 960, the company assures customers that there is more than enough room for expansion, with support for 4K gaming at 60 fps. Omega supports 3-way SLI with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980s, and it also supports Crossfire.
In the case of the operating system, Origin plans to support the upcoming Windows 10 as well as Steam OS, which gives you the option of turning your Omega into your own Steam Machine when the platform officially launches. At the very least, you can boot to Steam's Big Picture Mode for now.
Storage capabilities are not exclusive to HDDs, with SSDs added as an option, and the maximum storage capacity is a whopping 14 TB. If you don't want to use the keyboard and mouse combination, Origin will install "Mouse Emulation Software" that allows you to utilize an Xbox 360 controller to act as both mouse and keyboard. While the processors offered are all factory overclocked, Origin said users can still tinker around with the overclock speeds but doesn't recommend it.
Depending on your preferences, the Omega could eat a sizable chunk out of your wallet. The base model starts at $999, and at press time, it's still unclear as to how much the highest-end model will cost. Origin believes $999 is the right starting price point for what it considers a "high-performance HTPC." Depending on the options provided for each model, Origin might blow typical HTPCs out of the water, or it could just be another brand trying to bring PC gaming to the living room.
One item of note is that Origin was clear that the Omega line is not supposed to be consoles, despite the fact that they will eventually run Steam OS as well as Windows; they're designed to be HTPCs.
UPDATE (2/23, 12 pm PT): Origin revealed more details about the Omega line, specifically the available cases and parts. The cases are from Silverstone, and there are five options: the SG06, the GD05, the GD09, the RVZ01, and the SGQ8. With the low-end model priced at $999, we attempted to put a price on the high-end model. We chose the most expensive case, the SGQ8, which comes with a 600W PSU. Unfortunately, you can't change the power supply that comes with the SGQ8, which does cripple the options for components.
The motherboard is a mini-ITX EVGA Z97 Stinger and houses Intel's Core i7-4790K at 4.0 GHz (4.4 GHz TurboBoost). For memory, we chose Corsair's 16 GB (2x 8 GB) Dominator Platinum at 2133 MHz. Even though Origin claimed that certain configurations allow for three-way SLI, the SGQ8's power supply limits that option to just one graphics card. With that in mind, the most powerful graphics for our configuration was Nvidia's GTX Titan Black (6 GB). For storage, we chose three 1 TB Samsung 850 EVO SSDs in a RAID 5 configuration. For cooling options, we chose Origin's Frostbyte 120 Sealed Liquid Cooling System along with Origin's own high-performance, silent fans.
For optical drives, you might need two since one drive doesn't do it all. We chose an internal CD/DVD drive with read/write capabilities while the external drive handles Blu-ray read/write. In terms of audio, Origin's top component was Sound Blaster's X-Fi Surround 5.1 USB card. For game capture, there was only one option available, which was the Avermedia Live Gamer Portable. Since there is no room for expansion cards, we had to get an external wireless adapter for networking, so we chose the Asus USB-AC56 Dual-band Wireless-AC1300 connected by USB 3.0. The only things we didn't change were the one-year warranty, upgrade service, and the offered operating system (Windows 8.1 64-bit). If you want an overclocked CPU and GPU, Origin can offer both services free of charge.
If you thought the low-end model was expensive, the high-end PC is bound to give you quite a shock at $4,814. Most people can easily make the case to build a powerful gaming PC at a fraction of the cost, which is the reasonable option. For those with money to spend, it's probably better to save another few thousand dollars for Digital Storm's Aventum 3 which starts at around $4,600 for the low-end model. Its top-tier option will set you back at almost $8,000.