Origin Chronos Review: The Ultimate LAN Box?by Dustin Sklavos on July 27, 2012 3:01 AM EST
Conclusion: The Ultimate LAN Box
There's definitely a compelling product in the Origin Chronos. Origin can pitch their partnership with LucidLogix, and that's certainly a good value add, but I think the one with BitFenix is just as noteworthy. The etched Origin logo on the front of the case is a nice touch, but I'm just happy to see good, inexpensive cases from a boutique that aren't made by NZXT. Bringing costs down is important for boutiques since it allows them to be more competitive, and the case is usually the first thing to go. That's why an affordable but quality option is so vital.
Within the Chronos is a lot to like. All of the components chosen are of high quality which means they're good for you as an end user but also good for Origin; less downtime all around. Opting for a slimline optical drive so they could fit a card reader in the front was a welcome addition that I think deserves some credit, while the storage subsystem as a whole is respectable. Our review unit also enjoys arguably the best Mini-ITX motherboard on the market.
When I initially wrote this review, Origin hadn't made available the "review configuration" on their website and the price was...ungainly. Now that it's there, the Chronos is incredibly price and performance competitive. iBuyPower can give you a similar system for roughly the same price, but configuring something similar on AVADirect's site resulted in a system closer to $1,800. So at least on that front, Origin is offering a solid deal.
Where I think things go haywire is the CPU overclock, which is just too aggressive in our system. This could very well boil down to personal preference; Origin doesn't think the voltage is too high and that the system will hold up fine, and they're the ones that have to make sure it stays that way...for the first year. The problem is if this overclock goes bad after that year is up, the end user could be stuck holding the bag. Is that situation likely to come up? Unless you're using the system for folding, 24/7, probably not. But I have reservations in recommending a system that has such a clear stress tolerance limit. I'm a conservative overclocker, though; my own i7-3770K is at 4.4GHz with 1.2V running through it, Prime95 stable, and that's as high as I'm comfortable going.
Ultimately that's going to be your call, though. I have my side of the overclock argument, Origin has theirs, and both are equally valid. It's not like you have no options here, either; as a consumer you could certainly contact them and request a voltage limit on the overclock. Origin definitely does tune their systems to the particular needs of each CPU (since no two are completely alike), so I don't see it being difficult to just say "I'd like the Chronos review configuration, but cap the CPU voltage at 1.25V." If you want the most out of the processor you may have to deal with a shorter lifespan. This is true of just about any boutique, and I appreciate that Origin was at least transparent about it with us. But the price is very right for our review configuration, so if you're looking for a LAN box, the Chronos may very well be the one for you.