Origin Neuron (2021) Review: A Pre-Made Well Worth the Premium
RRP $ 2,387.00
"You can build the same system for less money, but Origin makes a compelling case not to do that."
Excellent cable management and design
Lifelong 24/7 support
Great CPU, GPU, and motherboard options
Easy to update
Few non-Corsair part options
Limited ports on the front
Why buy a desktop PC when you can make one yourself for less? Origin PC, which was acquired by Corsair a few years ago and specializes in pre-built PCs, has been trying to answer this question for years. But now, with GPU prices where they are, buying a pre-built desktop has never made so much sense.
Although Origin's pre-built desktops contain many off-the-shelf parts, they're more than just a few hastily thrown together components.
The Origin Neuron shows that. It is the mid-tower option from the Origin range and serves as a middle ground between the extended Tower Genesis and the Chronos with a small form factor. Like all Origin desktops, you can equip the Neuron with whatever parts you want, including the latest graphics card from AMD and Nvidia.
Given how expensive graphics cards are right now, the Neuron is a solid alternative to building your own gaming PC. If you don't want a massive tower to take up too much space, or a small form factor machine that could be prone to noise issues, the Neuron is the perfect option. And in 2021, most midrange configurations won't cost much more than building a gaming rig yourself.
The Origin Neuron is made up of off-the-shelf parts – assuming you can find a graphics card, you can put together an exact match. Because of this, it doesn't offer the convenience of an HP Omen 30L with its tool-less design. You still need to unscrew things and have a shelf for parts on hand when you want to get in.
Still, the Corsair 4000X case makes upgrades effortless. The side parts are each equipped with latches to the front, which allow easy insertion, and the knurled screws cannot be lost. They even have a little yellow ring around them, which makes them easy to spot when you remove the side panel.
It's worth noting that the Corsair 4000X is just one of the case options. It has a tempered glass side panel that stays on the side of the case even when the knurled screws are pulled out. There is a handy lever for removing it that I could use to remove the side panel without smearing fingerprints on it.
While you can put together the individual pieces of the Origin Neuron yourself, it may not be possible to do so with the same level of cleanliness. The device is remarkably well built, with neat cable routing on the back of the case and minimal overhang at the front. That's a testament to Origin's building expertise, as well as the large, open space that the Corsair 4000X offers.
You also have plenty of room for upgrades. With all commercially available parts, you can swap everything in the case across the board. The Corsair 4000X comes with two SSD trays and two hard drive bays that offer you plenty of space for storage. M.2 support depends on the motherboard you choose.
After everything was set up, I checked out the pre-installed software. There were a couple of programs out there that you will be using most of them. You have access to a graphics card overclocking utility, Corsair iCUE and an audio settings app. I would have preferred MSI Afterburner for the overclocking tool as it is the de facto option for many enthusiasts (including myself). Even so, these programs are useful and won't bloat the machine.
Which ports you get on the Neuron depends on the selected configuration. Each case and motherboard has a different combination. For the build Origin sent me, I was spoiled for choice in terms of connectivity, but unfortunately only the back of the case.
Up front, the Corsair 4000X has a pathetic choice. They have a USB 3.0 port, a USB-C 3.1 port and a headphone / microphone combo jack. That's it. While I loved seeing USB-C on the front, Corsair could have squeezed an additional USB port or two on the front. The 4000X has a clean design without too many exposed ports, but a few extra USB ports wouldn't have hurt that.
My test unit came with an Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard, which is not available on the Origin website at the time of publication. This board comes with an absurd number of ports. It includes Gigabit and 2.5 Gbit LAN, USB-C 3.2 and 10 USB 3.2 ports. If you need a lot of USB devices, this board is for you.
While you can't currently buy the board in my unit – at least through Origin – there are many other options. At the time of publication, I found an MSI MEG X570 Ace board that fits in the same class as the Crosshair board. Unfortunately, it doesn't have that many USB ports, so grab the Crosshair when it's available and you want a high-end motherboard.
Each case has two USB ports on the front – either USB-A or a combination with USB-C. An SD card reader would have been nice too, although most commercial cases don't come with one.
My test device was equipped with the latest parts from AMD and Nvidia, including the 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X and the 12 GB RTX 3080 Ti. Although this is about as high-quality as gaming desktops, the Neuron can hold even more. Origin offers up to 64 cores Ryzen Threadripper 3990X (but not the Pro model like the Lenovo P620 offers).
|Central processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X|
|GPU||Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero WiFi|
|Storage||Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB 3,200 MHz (2 x 16 GB)|
|storage||Corsair MP600 1TB, Samsung 870 QVO 2TB|
|power supply||Corsair RM850X 80+ gold|
|USB ports||11 USB-A, two USB-C|
|Networking||2.5 Gbit, 1 Gbit Ethernet|
The standard configuration costs about $ 2,400. For that price, you get a Core i7-10700K, 16GB of storage, and an RTX 3060 Ti. While this is the "starting price", you can actually save money by configuring the machine yourself. By swapping out a Ryzen 5 5600X and RX 6700 XT, I was able to bring the Neuron down to $ 2,100 using the configurator.
My review unit is just over $ 5,100, and that's a mid-range configuration. Armed with the best of the best, you can easily spend over $ 10,000 on the Neuron. If that sounds like a lot, it's because the Neuron is way more expensive than the competition.
I configured an almost identical Maingear Vybe for $ 5,051, and a similar Falcon Northwest Talon configuration was $ 5,352. For Custom, the Neuron is where it should be. Pre-made ones are a different story. The slightly lower spec HP Omen 30L costs around $ 2,500. The pre-configured Maingear Vybe with an RTX 3080 Ti now costs $ 3,500.
The pre-made vybe is the most interesting comparison. It's almost identical to the Neuron Origin I sent myself, just with a Ryzen 9 5900X processor. Origin offers a pre-built version of the Neuron, but it is limited to one configuration. At HP and Maingear, you have access to a range of options, all less than customizing your own rig.
This is a top of the line machine with some of the highest quality components inside.
Still, it is difficult to get into a bad configuration given the options the Neuron offers. Outside of the motherboard, graphics card, and processor, you have access to Corsair parts, and Corsair makes great RAM, power supplies, and AIO coolers. While vertical integration may rub some people the wrong way, I can't fault it. This is a top of the line machine with some of the highest quality components inside.
You will have access to Corsair drives most of the time too, although Origin does offer some Samsung options as well. Samsung drives are some of the best, so I was excited to see them.
Still, I have a few issues with the build options. For one, there are no options for air cooling. You can only choose one AIO, and only one is available from Corsair. Additionally, RGB case fans are obscenely expensive as you can only access Corsair options. They're some of the best pc case fans out there, but they come at a price to match.
And price is the main problem. I split the base machine at currently available prices (with the MSRP for the graphics card) and came up with $ 1,430. That's nearly $ 1,000 in premium for Origin for additional branding, and it all adds up to a standard configuration of $ 2,400. However, given current graphics card prices, the Neuron isn't bad business. Given the inflated pricing, building this machine yourself would cost nearly $ 2,000.
Processor performance depends on how you configure the Neuron. If you choose the Ryzen 9 5950X, as with my test device, you're in luck. Aside from AMD's own Threadripper chips, there is nothing that powerful on consumer desktops.
The 16 cores and 32 threads went to work quickly in Cinebench R23. Cinebench uses the processor to render an image instead of the graphics card and measures both single and multi-core performance. It got a score of 25,116 on the multi-score, which is faster than any desktop CPU you can buy outside of Threadripper.
Aside from parts of the workstation class, there is no other processor as powerful as the Ryzen 9 5950X.
As a reference, Intel's 10-core i9-10900K achieved a score of around 15,000. Single-core performance was on par with other processors in the Ryzen 5000 series, including the one in the Falcon Northwest Talon.
Geekbench 5 offers more down to earth performance, but even then, the Ryzen 9 5950X outperformed the Core i9-10900K by around 30%. This test also showed some benefits for single-core performance. My example chip showed a modest improvement of around 6% over the CyberPower Xtreme that rocks the Ryzen 7 5800X.
The Ryzen 5950X showed how close it can get to Threadripper chips in the content creation benchmarks. It got a total of 1,088 in PugetBench for Premiere Pro. That's about 18% off the Threadripper 3995WX, which costs nearly $ 5,500. Aside from parts of the workstation class, there is no other processor as powerful as the Ryzen 9 5950X.
In Handbrake, the Ryzen 9 5950X actually met the Threadripper 3995WX, with only one second between the render times. Intel's Core i9-10900K didn't do that well and was about 35% below the Ryzen 9 5950X in my handbrake test.
For the machine Origin sent me, 4K is the goal. The RTX 3080 Ti can exceed 1080p and 1440p in most games and achieves frame rates of around 100 frames per second (fps). You don't have to look any further than Red Dead Redemption 2 to see where the Neuron averaged 110 fps at 1440p Ultra settings.
The RTX 3080 Ti aims at 4K but doesn't always arrive. At maximum 4K resolution, I managed 55 fps in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. This is a very punishing title, and the RTX 3080 Ti is on the high end of the performer. Nevertheless, the HP Omen 30L only showed a slight improvement over the RTX 3080. As far as the Falcon Northwest Talon with an RTX 3080 is concerned, it performs identically.
Red Dead Redemption 2 did much better with an average of 72 fps at 4K Ultra. Fortnite was also no match for the RTX 3080 Ti, as it scored points above the RTX 3080 at 89 fps with all sliders. Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Red Dead Redemption 2 are two of the most challenging games on PC, and the RTX 3080 Ti can still keep up with them.
The RTX 3080 can also keep up. Even in the most demanding of situations, just a few frames separate it and the Ti model at 4K. Keep in mind that the RTX 3080 Ti costs an extra $ 718 over the RTX 3080 in the Neuron. This additional price hardly buys you any more performance with 4K.
This even applies to synthetic benchmarks. When I compare my 3DMark Time Spy result to the average of the RTX 3080 results with the same configuration, there is only about 5% difference. For reference, the RTX 3070 Ti is only about 10% slower than the RTX 3080 Ti in this test, while it costs $ 1,000 less on Origin.
Ray tracing is a major feature of the RTX 30 series, so I turned to Control for ray tracing performance. To my surprise, the RTX 3080 Ti managed 35 fps at 4K with ray tracing on high. That's about a 44% performance hit for enabling ray tracing, but you can always use Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) to increase the frame rates.
The RTX 3080 Ti is a 4K gaming monster, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. It's better for the price Origin is asking. What surprised me is the proximity to the RTX 3080, which is significantly cheaper. The non-Ti model is slower, but with over $ 700 at stake, a few extra frames are hard to justify.
Guarantee and support
An important reason to be pre-fabricated is the support. After all, there are no guarantees of screwing up a build yourself (even if the chances are slim with the right guidance). Origin, along with virtually all other custom PC builders, doesn't do well in this regard. The Neuron comes with a standard one-year parts exchange warranty with free shipping for the first 45 days only.
The Neuron comes in a wooden box so free shipping after 45 days is not a big deal. One year is the standard for most PC manufacturers, including Maingear, Falcon Northwest, and CyberPowerPC. For the warranty period, however, I would have liked free shipping. That upgrade alone costs $ 70 on Origin.
It's not all bad news for support, however. After purchase, Origin offers 24/7 lifelong support as well as lifelong free labor if you want to upgrade your PC across the board.
Like most custom-built PCs, the Origin Neuron charges a premium for convenience. However, this premium is not as high in 2021 as in previous years. Given the current price of an RTX 3080 Ti, you could build the exact machine Origin sent me for around $ 1,400 versus $ 2,400. That extra $ 1,000 will give you the build, some extra goodies, and a parts guarantee.
As someone who loves to assemble PCs, I will always choose to save money and share a system myself. However, the price difference on Origin isn't that big, especially on machines with lower specs. As my tests show, you can get most of the performance of an RTX 3080 Ti out of the RTX 3080, and this difference alone brings the price scales back into balance.
Overall, the Origin Neuron is an expertly built machine that deserves its price in a sea of machines that don't. However, DIY is always cheaper, and the 2021 Neuron won't change that either.
Are there alternatives?
Yes sir. The Maingear Vybe and Falcon Northwest Talon are custom alternatives, and the HP Omen 30L and pre-made Maingear Vybe are cheaper options that you can't configure. Origin stands out for its build quality, including clean cable management and minimal bloatware. However, all components are sold separately and you can save a lot if you put them together yourself.
How long it will take?
The Origin Neuron will last as long as you want it to. It uses standardized parts so you can upgrade and expand it for as long as it complies with the ATX standard. The base model will last at 1080p and 1440p for several years before you need to upgrade.
Should you buy it?
A $ 1,000 building fee is hard to swallow when you can make an exact match yourself, but for those who don't want to build their own, the Neuron is an excellent premium option.