Small but mighty


THEY SAY GOOD THINGS come in small pack­ages. That cer­tainly is the case when it comes to the Chronos from Ori­gin PC, a supremely pow­er­ful sys­tem in a very small chas­sis. Mea­sur­ing just 11.75 x 13.75 x 4 inches, the Chronos is one of the most com­pact sys­tems we’ve ever tested. And con­sid­er­ing that size, and the power it packs in­side, it just might be worth its su­per-pre­mium price tag.

Of course, a big price tag should mean top-end per­for­mance, and the Chronos does not dis­ap­point. The sys­tem we tested was out­fit­ted with the en­thu­si­ast-class In­tel Core i7-6950X sit­ting in an ASRock X99 ITX mother­board. The 6950X’s 10 cores clocked at 4.1GHz helped the Chronos blow away our zero-point in Cinebench R15 and TechARP’s x264 bench­marks.

For stor­age, our Chronos fea­tured a 512GB Sam­sung 950 Pro M.2 SSD, com­bined with a 6TB Western Dig­i­tal Red HDD. Re­mark­ably, Ori­gin says the sys­tem can fit up to four 2.5-inch SSDs, but we can’t for the life of us fig­ure out where. The in­side of the Chronos is packed tighter than an over­flow­ing suit­case—not sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing it sports a full-size GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.

Here at Max­i­mumPC, we of­ten get spoiled by crazy high-end sys­tems, mak­ing it easy to for­get that the GTX 1080 is an im­pres­sively pow­er­ful graph­ics card. While the Chronos can fit up to a GTX Ti­tan X in­side, the 1080 in our sys­tem is more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling high-de­mand gam­ing sit­u­a­tions.

The Chronos boasted an av­er­age of 125fps across Riseof the Tom­bRaider’s three-part GPU bench­mark in 1080p at max set­tings. FarCryPri­mal and The Di­vi­sion pro­duced sim­i­lar re­sults from their bench­marks—around 102 and 95fps re­spec­tively. More im­pres­sively, the Chronos per­formed well at higher res­o­lu­tions. Riseof the Tom­bRaider showed 84fps at 1440p, and 47fps at 4K. And through sev­eral hours of Ti­tan­fall2’s cam­paign at 1440p, we don’t re­call the frame rate ever drop­ping be­low 80fps, even in the most fran­tic fire­fights.


A large sell­ing point for the Chronos is its cus­tom-built chas­sis, made from server­grade steel. It’s small, sturdy, and can be out­fit­ted with a cus­tom paint job in the pat­tern or color of your lik­ing. How­ever, pack­ing that much power into such a small case does come with a few caveats.

The Chronos’s Frost­byte liq­uid cooler keeps the CPU at a rea­son­able tem­per­a­ture, con­sid­er­ing there’s lit­tle room for air­flow in­side the cramped quar­ters. How­ever, take care if you ever need to open the case up and look in­side. When we re­assem­bled our Chronos, the liq­uid cooler tubes blocked the ra­di­a­tor fan from spin­ning un­less they were po­si­tioned just so. Ori­gin, of course, should en­sure the tubes are prop­erly sit­u­ated, but it’s some­thing to think about should you ever need to open the case for a rou­tine dust­ing.

Over­all, the Chronos is an im­pres­sive sys­tem in a very small frame. And thanks to its de­tach­able mag­netic feet, it can sit in any ori­en­ta­tion on or un­der your desk. We rec­om­mend proudly dis­play­ing the beastly GTX 1080 through the LEDil­lu­mi­nated view­ing win­dow. Of course, it’s not cheap, but that’s the price for a top­tier build.

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