Over the last couple of years, I have reviewed a few different gaming laptops from the folks at Origin PC, a boutique builder who caters to PC gamers and enthusiasts. Having a very positive experience with those devices, I was excited to see what the team at Origin PC offered up in the desktop market. They sent over one of their Neuron series desktop PCs and I ran it through testing and spent a week using it as my main system to get an idea of what a prospective customer would receive if they chose to go with an Origin Neuron. This is a PC that I really didn’t want to send back.
What is the Neuron?
Origin PC offers a few different lines of desktop systems, ranging from the super-compact to an all-steel leviathan. The Neuron falls on the smaller side of the spectrum, offering a MicroATX-based system in a stylish, compact chassis that managed to impress me the moment I yanked it out of its famous wooden shipping crate. It makes use of a sturdy metal case and tempered glass side panel that is much easier to manage than the multi-screw solutions that are common on midrange or lower retail cases. The hinged glass window opens easily when you need to get into the guts of the system and stays securely shut when required. I’ve built more than a few PCs with tempered glass and this solution to the window is as good as you’ll find, even when compared to $200+ retail cases.
You’ll be glad Origin PC opted for the glass on the Neuron because the inside is most certainly worth gawking at. The system I was sent came in a solid white case and featured a custom white Corsair 240mm AIO CPU cooler with white sleeving on the tubes and white trim adorning the pump housing. Four sticks of Corsair Vengeance RGB RAM populate the DIMM slots and come with matching white paint jobs. The centerpiece of the build was undoubtedly the custom white NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. As best I can tell, the card makes use of the NVIDIA reference cooler, but this particular card trades the sterile stock aluminum and black aesthetic for a classy white presentation. The whole system feels like the parts were made to be assembled together.
Rounding out the visuals is a set of RGB lighting strips. In this particular system, it seems as if Origin PC used the Corsair Lighting Node Pro to help sync up the lights from the AIO cooling system, RAM, and LED strips. All of these lights are managed with Corsair’s iCUE software, which seems to be the only pre-installed application on the system (hooray for the lack of bloat!). Anyone who has built or bought a white-themed desktop system knows how well the color plays with RGB lights, offering a nearly perfect color reflection of every hue. If all the gaming desktops were required to go to the prom, this Origin Neuron would be the one that turned heads with its white tuxedo, alabaster gator boots, and shiny pearlescent cane.
A miniature marvel
As impressed with the visual presentation as I was, the compact size of the Neuron desktop was just as remarkable. Compared to most of the standard-sized ATX builds I mess with daily, the diminutive size of the Neuron was a bit of a revelation. It holds a comprehensive set of full-fat, name-brand retail PC parts in a chassis that isn’t much larger than the original Xbox. Unlike some of the more extreme Mini-ITX builds you see online, none of the components are cramped. Again, you have a full-sized 240mm AIO, full-sized flagship GPU, extended-height RAM sticks, and more, yet everything has room to breathe. Those who like to further customize their builds with figures and other collectibles will find lots of room inside, even though the outer case takes up minimal desk real estate.
The paltry size of the overall build does not compromise on performance at all. This particular build is made up of the best of the best parts for gaming and VR in 2019, including Intel’s Core i9-9900K and the previously mentioned GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Needless to say, the Neuron offered a level of performance that is unmatched across every game or task I threw at it. Playing and streaming all from the same system is a reality, even at high-quality encoding settings. The included NVME SSD offers lightning-fast boot times and it never failed to load me into multiplayer sessions ahead of the pack. The airflow and cooling design of the system kept temperatures under control, which is noteworthy for the overall chassis size and the reputation of the included parts. Flagship parts perform the best, but they also continuously dump the most heat, and the Neuron managed perfectly.
The perfect desktop?
As you would expect, the Neuron offered me the best of what is available in gaming-class desktop computing in 2019. There were no glaring faults that I noticed and any complaints could reasonably be tossed off as nitpicks. As the system builders went the extra mile on the white theme, I did notice that the power supply cabling in the Neuron was white, but without sleeving or cable combs for the cleanest possible look. I would have liked to see white-sleeved cabling on the 24-pin plug, GPU cables, and possibly the EPX cable as it would have made the interior visual presentation perfect. Using the Neuron online configuration page, I did see an option for adding sleeved cabling, so you should be able to get that perfect look when you order your own.
The only other impression I had from using the Neuron that was not a gushing superlative would be the acoustic performance. The desktop was not as quiet as I would have preferred in a machine with this kind of price tag, but I also understand that the compact size of the chassis requires that some acoustic compromises be made, simply due to the laws of science. A case with more room for airflow, a 280mm radiator and 140mm intake and exhaust fans would have been nearly silent when pushed to its limits, but using those parts would require a big case. Mind you, the Neuron was not really loud when stressed (its audible output is easily dwarfed by my PS4), but something I was listening for when factoring in the price.
Any mention of Origin PC should also include some talk about their support staff. It is true that anyone can buy these same exact parts online and build their own PC for a cheaper price. You must support the build yourself, research the part fitment, and spend a significant amount of time assembling, cable managing, and stress testing. The price premium on an Origin PC includes something that you won’t get from self-building or buying a pre-built from a store — the support staff at Origin PC. The team is made up of enthusiasts who not only care about the products they build, they also use them just like you would. When you call, a real human answers. This human will not be a switchboard operator, but likely a passionate gamer who is happy to get you back in the game.
I contacted the support line at a time that I would consider sub-optimal for getting actual help from any company — around 11:45 PM on a Sunday night. The call was answered almost immediately and my concerns were addressed just as fast. I was told I would be contacted by a different employee the following day and that call came right on time. It would not be an exaggeration to say it was the most satisfying tech support call I’ve been on, and it ended up like two friends talking about PC gaming rather than the soul-sucking hell you expect when you have to ring up your ISP. There is no greater peace of mind than a dedicated support staff of people who care.
Who is the Origin PC Neuron for? If you’ve always built your own PC, but are growing tired of the process, opting for one of these desktops will get you a system using the same off-the-shelf parts with outstanding cable management, ready to use right out of the box. If you are new to PC gaming and want to ensure that everything is perfect, this system could be right up your alley. I wholeheartedly recommend Origin PC for gifting (especially this time of year) as you can be sure that your recipient is taken care of. The Neuron desktop I was sent was perfectly built, with well-thought-out part selection and dedication to the white theme that left me beyond impressed (I really want the white RTX 2080 Ti to be sold at retail). As long as you are cool with accepting the compromises inherent in using such a small chassis, I can’t really imagine a better system available in 2019. 9/10 angelic white RTX 2080 TIs
This Origin PC Neuron desktop was provided for review by the vendor. It can be purchased directly online from Origin PC. December 9, 2019, is the cutoff date for orders to arrive before Christmas.
Origin PC Neuron
- Outstanding gaming and encoding performance
- Excellent part selection
- Nearly flawless execution of white theme
- Impressive technical support
- The white RTX 2080 Ti is my Baby Yoda
- Compact design leads to compromises of acoustic performance
- Could have used sleeved PSU cabling