Performance and Wrap Up
The PC boots up with an Origin logo but you can still enter the BIOS to make any tweaks you may want. Since the included CPU is of the “K” variety it is fully overclockable. Factory overclocks are available from Origin for an additional fee if you don't want to do them yourself.
My Core i7 came overclocked to a stable 4.8 GHz out of the box but your results may be different due to binning. The 1080 Ti GPU was also overclocked to +130MHz on the core and +120MHz on the RAM. This is an impressive feat for a computer of this form factor.
Since the case is so open, you can hear a lot of things that you may not be used to. The Chronos is very quiet at idle but things like hard drive access sounds and liquid cooling bubbles were still faintly audible. Once the system gets going in a game, you’ll want some headphones to drown out the sound. It’s not as bad as some small form factor cases, but it’s just about there.
The liquid cooling helps keep some of CPU the noise down, but having the GPU positioned right next to the side panel cutout can easily overshadow that. Tuning the fans and temperature curves can make it manageable though so I wouldn’t worry too much here.
As expected, performance is outstanding. The overclocked 1080 Ti paired with an overclocked i7 7700K devours games and other resource intensive tasks. Temperatures can get a little warm but if that becomes an issue for you, it’s always easy to just dial back the overclock.
The included software is fine for the most part. Origin includes some standard PC hardware tools like CPUz, EVGA Precision, and HWMonitor. It was also nice to see a recovery partition and USB drive in the box since you don’t get the original Windows installation media. What wasn’t nice to see though was other pre-installed games like Candy Crush. A game like that has no place in a $3000 top of the line gaming PC. If this is an issue for you though, you can just uninstall it in a few seconds. After speaking with Origin, it turns out Windows can re-install bloatware that was uninstalled by Origin when they were building the PC. No fault here as it is a Windows issue.
We make it a point to make sure we uninstall any and all additional software that comes on the system to make sure there is no “bloatware” on any of our systems, including customer units but we have found that Windows updates seem to push that software back onto the system as a way to promote games from the Windows Store.
Overall this system is very well built given the size constraints. Cooling and noise levels continues to be a sore point for gaming-grade SFF PCs. With the addition of a liquid cooled CPU though, the Chronos helps solve a few of these issues.
The only major issue I had besides the faulty LED strip was with the power connector. It appeared as if the wires from the power input to the power supply were cracking slightly. As long as you don't yank them around though, this should be fine.
The Origin Chronos is a serious gaming beast in a small footprint. A Chronos PC configured as reviewed today should set you back just over $3,000 on Origin's website, compared to about $2,600 if you source the components yourself. That works out to about a 15% fee for system integration and verification which in my opinion is totally justified here.
Pros: Excellent gaming performance in a tiny form factor. Well thought out design inside and out. User upgradable components.
Cons: Cooling and noise levels continues to be a sore point for gaming-grade SFF PCs. Faulty LED strip on our test unit.
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