Origin PC Omni review

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The Good: Fast, highly configurable and relatively easy to upgrade, the Origin PC Omni offers a 34-inch curved display for less than it would cost to buy a decent external model.

The Bad: Prone to overheating when you drive it hard, and the display — typical of its class of panel — isn’t terrific enough that you won’t mind being stuck with it for years.

The Bottom Line: Origin PC’s Omni custom build gaming all-in-one is a great idea that feels a little ahead of its time; it’s fast, upgradable and fits a ton of components, but the chassis needs a better layout.

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There’s no denying that Origin PC’s Omni custom-build all-in-one is fast, or that with its 34-inch curved display it delivers a great gaming experience. It’s expensive, but doesn’t seem overpriced when compared to similarly equipped systems. And because it’s almost fully upgradable, at least given the present state of components, it’s not a bad investment. And I can see some advantages. For instance, if you want the power of a high-end gaming system but a bit more elegant look than you typically find from a market segment with a design aesthetic that tends more towards letting it all hang out than hiding it away. (I kind of want it to have a transparent back, though.)

But you can’t really consider it a space saver thanks to that 34-inch display, unless you plan to hang it on the wall. Yes, you can.

So… why?

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A warm reception

Origin PC takes Loop International’s LP-3400 AIO chassis and stuffs it to the gills with components you won’t find in most all-in-ones. And it’s not alone: Velocity Micro will do it for you as well.

Here’s the thing: When you cram high-end hardware behind a big display and then max out the processors with complex calculations and memory access (that 3,440×1,440 display requires a lot of pixel pushing), you’re going to generate a lot of heat in a small space. There’s a reason why most all-in-ones tend use notebook parts.

This was not our first rodeo with the Omni. We had a previous system that would simply die in No Man’s Sky. The first time it happened with our second unit was while attempting to take out terrorists in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Run, jump, fire, die. And not in a I-should-have-used-a-grenade way.

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I admit, I crank up the quality settings, at least occasionally, to see how it looks. I dial them back for testing actual play. I’m not positive heat caused the issues on both of our test systems with the settings at max, but at times the fans in it spin up like jet engines and hot air shoots out of the bottom and the back. Death or reboot would occur during this spin fest. As it is, the system uses liquid cooling and has a reservoir you have to refill every 6 to 12 months — I think it would require liquid nitrogen for some configurations.

After some trial and error, I was able to max out all the quality settings for the Nvidia Titan X with vertical sync set to “on” in the Nvidia control panel; that, of course caps the frame rate at the display’s 60Hz refresh, but at some higher frame rates — especially around 90fps — there was some tearing and a lot of not-explosion-related judder in the Metro Last Light benchmark test I was using to diagnose the issues. It looked a lot smoother at roughly 60fps, and the system didn’t even break a sweat or spin a fan. There’s probably a setting that offers a better compromise.

The folks at Origin PC will work tirelessly with you to get a system running smoothly, but I’m not sure that the desire to constantly tinker is in the DNA of someone who wants an AIO.

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Origin PC Omni

Price as reviewed $4,130
Display size/resolution 34-inch 3,440 x 1,440 display
PC CPU 4.2GHz Intel Core i7-7700K
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
Graphics 12GB Nvidia GeForce Titan X
Storage 500GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Our $4,130 test configuration is relatively midrange given the available options. The MSI Intel Z270-chipset-based motherboard in ours takes quad-core seventh-generation Intel Core processors, but for about $500 more you can get it with an Intel X99-based motherboard and 8- or 10-core processors. The most powerful configuration I specced out came to almost $8,000, sans accessories. (And might possibly melt the chassis.) I won’t go into all the options — play “how much can I spend” for yourself. You can also play it in Australia, but the company doesn’t have a UK-specific site.

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It’s a TARDIS and a mullet

I’m tempted to call this the TARDIS of all-in-one chassis. It fits as much gear as a standard desktop (though only a single graphics card): a full-size current-generation Nvidia or AMD card, up to 32GB of memory, two drives of either the spinning or solid-state variety, and a sound card. It’s all laid out neatly and easy to get to for swapping hardware. To get inside, you have to unscrew about 9 or 10 screws and the back snaps off. In this respect, it’s pretty nice.

Or maybe it’s the mullet: all business up front and a not-so-pretty party on the bottom. The only aspect I really like with respect to the layout is the USB port on the top. It’s intended for the snap-in webcam, but it’s the most easily reachable port, and on top is a great place to connect a calibrator.

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About a third of the back is vented, with a cluster of connectors conveniently located on the back right. Underneath the display? Oy. That’s where the motherboard and graphics card’s connectors come out. While it’s crammed with useful ones (for an all-in-one), they’re kind of hard to get to — and I’m talking about frequently used ones, like USB — without laying down the system. One cable runs outside from the back of the graphics card to the display. Ours came with an HDMI connection but I also tried it with a Mini DisplayPort-to-full-size DP cable. It worked fine but plugging in the Mini DP cable was like threading a needle. It also means that the two antenna connectors (for extending the range of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) are in an odd place. (Look at the photos for a more detailed discussion about the available connectors and layout.)

The big display is like pretty much every other 34-inch, 3,440×1,440-pixel curved monitor I’ve seen lately, with a decent 100-percent sRGB gamut that looks very good for games, as long as you’re looking at it dead on without tilt. The size is great for playing with a wider field of view. The matte display is great from a reflectivity perspective, but it suffers from color and contrast shifts when viewing from even a little off-angle.

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Fast. But.

The system performs as fast as you’d expect given its components, and it was only occasionally outpaced by others we’ve tested that incorporate the Intel Extreme CPUs with more cores. I’ve got few complaints about the gameplay.

You’d think that a system so upgradable and beyond-VR-ready would have futureproofness baked right in. But the problem with an all-in-one is that you’re stuck with the display and its low refresh rate. While it’s big, it’s also the first generation of the 34-inch panels we’ve seen, so better ones are hopefully in the offing. It does’t support G-Sync, which, given the Nvidia firepower inside, makes me a little sad.

You can add a second display if you want, but I’m not sure where you’d put it given the size of the built-in monitor. If you put it to the side and added another 34-inch next to it for a semicircle, it would be awesomely immersive, but the visual sweet spots would be on your sides and the bezels would be in front of your face.

Origin offers “pro” custom build with Xeon and Quadro options as well, but power isn’t an issue here. This curved display just isn’t suitable for a lot of the types of graphics-intensive tasks performed on a workstation because of the distortion of straight lines, flaws in visual color uniformity, relatively small gamut and/or possibly the odd 21:9 aspect ratio.

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Needs some polish

There’s so much I like about the concept, but the execution needs some work before I can get behind it. For one, it needs a better-designed chassis. Origin’s done the best it could with an off-the-shelf model, but it feels just a little too kludgy. That’s fine when you’re putting together a desktop that you want to look geeked out and to tinker with, but that’s not what the Omni is.

I think a lower-end configuration makes more sense if you do like the idea; spend about $1,500 less and you can still put together a pretty powerful all-in-one, but that works within the limitations.

System Configurations

Origin PC Omni (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4.2GHz Intel Core i7-7700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM; 12GB Nvidia GeForce GTX Titain X; 500GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Dell XPS 27 (2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-6700; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2400MHz; 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M470X; 512GB SSD
Falcon Northwest Tiki (2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5700rpm
Microsoft Surface Studio Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HQ, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz, 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M; 2TB HDD + 128GB SSD
MSI GT83VR Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-6920; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; (2) 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; (2) 512GB SSD RAID 0 + 1TB HDD

(cnet.com, https://goo.gl/5ecyIi)

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