Origin's Mini Cube With Big Hardware Specs
Even as mini-ITX cases appear to be getting bigger, microATX is getting smaller. The Rodney Dangerfield of form factors, microATX is often ridiculed by enthusiasts who just can't get enough room for high-end hardware and skipped over entirely by the crowd shopping for ever-shrinking form factors. The brief window of opportunity that microATX gaming cubes had to impress with their diminutive dimensions is all but forgotten, lost to the din made over slim little boxes housing GeForce GTX Titan cards.
But as anyone who built a PC using a cube-shaped enclosure will tell you, that probably shouldn’t have happened. The microATX form factor gives us four slots of expansion, enough room for at least four DIMMs, and space around the processor interface for an enthusiast-class voltage regulator. That’s because the ATX-sized upper portion of the motherboard remains, even after a microATX's platform's three bottom slots are trimmed off.
These days, the word compact seems to apply most specifically to mini-ITX-based boxes. But Origin PC finds a loophole in that theory by using BitFenix's Phenom M. Nearly an inch shorter in both length and height than the $2500 mini-ITX Performance Build we put together for our System Builder Marathon last year, the Phenom moves its power supply to the front, creating room for five expansion slots.
Origin PC took advantage of the Phenom's relatively roomy interior and stuffed its Chronos with two GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards, the fastest gaming boards Nvidia sells.
|Origin PC Chronos Custom PC|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4770K: 3.5 - 3.9 GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache|
|DRAM||Corsair CMY16GX3M2A1866C9: DDR3-1866 C9, 16 GB ( 2 x 8 GB)|
|Graphics||2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti, SLI, 3 GB GDDR5|
|System Drive||Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE1T0BW: 1 TB SATA 6Gb/s MLC SSD|
|Storage Drive||Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001: 2 TB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive|
|Motherboard||Asus Maximus VI Gene, LGA 1150, Z87 Express, microATX|
|Chassis||BitFenix Phenom M Midnight Black Steel / Plastic MicroATX|
|CPU Cooler||Origin Frostbyte 120 Closed-loop liquid cooler|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX850M 80 PLUS Bronze Semi-Modular 850 W|
|Internal Bays||2 x 3.5" (Base Panel), 2 x 2.5" (Left Side Panel)|
|Power Bay||PS/2, Front Mounted on Base Panel|
|Front Panel I/O||2 x USB 3.0, Headphone, Microphone, all forward on left side panel|
|Fans||2 x 120 mm Intake (top), 2 x 120 mm Exhaust (at rear radiator)|
|External Peripheral||6 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0|
|External Audio||6 x Analog, Digital Optical|
|Internal Ports||8 x SATA 6Gb/s, 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0|
|Internal Slots||2 x PCIe 3.0 (16+0 or 8+8 pathways), 1 x PCIe x4, 1 x Mini PCIe|
|Maximum Memory||4 x DDR3-1333 to DDR3-2933 (all standard capacities)|
|Gigabit Ethernet||Intel I217V PHY|
|Audio Controller||Realtek ALC1150 DAC, 7.1 + 2 channels rear/front, DTS Connect|
|Dimensions||13.5" (H), 9.8" (W), 15.1" (D), 29.1 Pounds|
|Warranty||Three-Year Part Replacement/Shipping, Lifetime Labor/24x7 Support|
|Software||Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro OEM|
Those cards by themselves sell for about $1400, so Origin has a bit of justification for pricing its diminutive box at $4215. The extended warranty adds $269 compared to the company's baseline one-year plan, but Origin wanted us to include it as part of the company's package. For enthusiasts who'd rather let someone else hold the screwdriver, this is an affordable insurance of sorts.