Getting To Know Our Chronos
Flexibility is main reason enthusiasts like to build their own machines. It's also the reason why enthusiasts who get tired of building start going with boutique shops like Origin PC. You're smart enough to pick the parts for what you want to do, but for one reason or another want someone else to take responsibility for the workmanship inside and out. For this trip around the track, we asked Origin PC to pick parts for us.
Page one showed the front view of Origin PC’s chosen BitFenix Phenom M case, complete with its power and reset buttons, twin USB 3.0 ports, and audio I/O on the edge of its left side panel. But a look around back shows a few more reasons Origin might have picked this case from its customer-specified configuration sheet.
By removing the power supply from the rear panel, BitFenix shrunk the height of this microATX case down to about the size of an ATX motherboard, while adding top-panel fans and a fifth slot. As you can imagine, the space freed up by that extra slot could have come in handy paired to a microATX motherboard with a x16 slot in its last position, since it would have freed up space for a dual-slot graphics card. The Asus Maximus VI Gene chosen for this configuration doesn’t have that issue.
In fact, the only problem Origin PC encounters in this case is that its upside-down design lends itself to an anti-convective flow path. The company uses the top fans as intakes rather than exhaust, feeding its graphics cards with cooler outside air.
BitFenix designed its Phenom M to hold a radiator under the top fans, but that doesn't work when the case is packed with high-end graphics. With only fans mounted up there, you barely get one slot of width between them and the second GeForce GTX 780 Ti.
Origin PC also had to block off one of the case’s other features to add a 2 TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM hard drive with 64 MB cache. The mount supports either two 3.5” drives or two 120 mm fans, and builders who don't want to use either of those options will also find mounting holes for a single 200 mm or 230 mm fan. But where are the 2.5” bays?
Two 2.5” SSD bays are located behind the motherboard, on the left side panel. Origin PC packed a $600 Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB SSD into the middle bay.
Other noteworthy parts include the Origin Frostbyte 120 cooler, a custom component that makes it harder for cost-counting readers to calculate the cumulative worth of this machine's parts versus its final price. The pump cover looks strikingly familiar, though. Aside from fan selection, we’re sure the same cooler manufacturer supplies a retail version in this size.