GCN LAB REVIEWS
Government's serious pursuits sometimes call for a game
In some cases, the government has to turn gaming technology for help in some of ts more serious pursuits. The Genesis Pro workstation from Origin PC, our July Product of the Month, can fit the bill where the need for high-end computing is greatest.
The Genesis Pro was able to achieve a score of 5,618 on the Passmark Performance Benchmarks, which makes it the fastest PC ever to come into the lab. This is all the more impressive because of the $3,296 price tag, making it less expensive than most high-end servers.
Given that the fastest computer ever benchmarked in the lab scored 2,200 on the benchmark, achieving three times that speed for about the same price is a really big deal.
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This speed and performance was achieved using mostly standard components, and a little bit of knowledge that Origin PC executives, formerly from Alienware, brought over from the gaming world. For games, performance really matters because nothing pushes a system like a modern shooter or open-world role-playing game.
For example, the processor is an Intel Core i7, but it’s overclocked, some might say hyper-clocked, to run at 4.5 GHz. It’s kept from self destructing using a Frostbyte 360 liquid cooling system. Spot heat measurements showed that the air around the processor never rose much past 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even when we really pushed it. There’s also a cooling fan on the processor in addition to the liquid coolant, and another large fan that removes warm air from the case.
The case itself is expertly vented and segmented. The Corsair HX 1050 power supply sits in a separate chamber from the motherboard, with its own cooling fan. All the wires that connect the power supply to the ASUS motherboard, and indeed most of the wires for all the components, sit behind a firewall panel under the board, which is mounted vertically.
Lots of holes with rubber stops allow for easy access to the wires and enable the running of new ones. The case opens up from both sides, so everything is accessible. The side with the actual motherboard on it has a glass window. While this adds a little bit of a style element, it also lets technicians read codes from the motherboard, which are displayed in bright red LEDs, without cracking open the case.
Graphics are handled by an NVidia GTX 680, which is a very nice video card. The huge block of a card takes up a lot of space inside the case, though it’s so roomy inside the two-foot tall by 25-inch deep housing that you will hardly notice.
Memory is fast of course so as not to be a bottleneck to the other components. The Genesis Pro we tested used 32G of Vengeance Dual Channel DDR3 rated at 1600Mhz. Combined with the 64-bit Windows 7 operating system, this means nothing is going to get stuck in the system busses, even for a millisecond. It’s about as close to true pass-through memory as you can get.
Tips from the gaming world
Taking another tip from the gaming world, the Genesis Pro has two hard drives. The first is actually two 90G Corsair Force GT solid state drives configured to RAID 0. This means there are no moving parts, so it can be extremely fast. The Windows 7 operating system is installed there, though extra space is available as a home for other often-used programs that require a lot of disk access.
The second hard drive is a terabyte-sized Corsair Black Caviar model. It’s a normal hard drive, but is also extremely fast, more than enough for most programs. You are probably going to install most of the software you use onto it.
Rounding out the mix of features is a 24x CD/DVD burner and a media card reader. And there are two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports right in the front, with more 2.0 ports around back. Video output can be achieved different ways, but the HDMI ports are probably the way to go.
We ran the Genesis Pro full out for about a month, throwing every application we could at it both in quick bursts and sustained testing. It never wavered, so we could tell that this was not just a bunch of components tossed together without much thought. Instead, they form a tight system that’s ready for the long haul.
It’s not a surprise that former executives from Alienware, a company that really was among the top names in gaming for years, would bring a lot of that need-for-speed knowledge over to the federal government. They even launched a government, commercial and business division to specifically serve this market.
You won’t find a better-performing workstation for the price it’s being offered, which was surprisingly low given all that it can do. For that reason, we name the Genesis Pro the July product of the month, and give it our highest recommendation.
Origin PC Corp, www.originPC.com
John Breeden II directs the GCN Lab. Follow him on Twitter: @GCNLabGuys.