LAS VEGAS – The Origin Big O may finally be the product to end the war between PC and console gamers. That’s because this $2,500 machine literally combines a gaming PC with either an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4.
You get an oversize chassis with all of the expected PC parts inside, plus the guts of either a PS4 Pro or an Xbox One S. Is this a huge advantage over having a separate PC and console? Potentially. Is it extremely cool? Definitely.
I got a chance to go hands-on with the Origin Big O Xbox model during CES 2020, and was extremely amused when I learned its origin story. Last year, Origin designed a desktop called the Big O just as a lark. This one-of-a-kind machine combined a gaming PC with parts from a PS4, an Xbox One and a Switch in order to create a four-in-one system that could play almost every single console or PC game currently on the market.
Origin assumed that everyone would enjoy its little experiment; the company did not realize just how many people would inundate its office with calls to purchase one for real.
Combining a gaming PC with three systems isn’t financially feasible for the average user, but combining a gaming PC with just one console isn’t actually so bad, it turns out. So now, users can customize their very own Big O on the Origin website. They can choose either a PS4 or and Xbox One – not both – as well as their preferred CPU, GPU, RAM and other standard PC parts.
Origin reps explained that the Big O isn’t for everyone, but it fills two particular niches extremely well. The first is for gamers who want living room setups, but simply don’t have a lot of space. Accommodating one slightly oversized PC is much, much easier than making space for a big, vertical PC and big, horizontal console right next to it.
The second use case is much more interesting: streaming. One customization option you can add to the Big O is a built-in capture card. As such, if you want to stream from a console, you don’t have to set up a complicated daisy-chain. You just boot up both the console and PC halves of the Big O, then run your capture software and broadcast to the world. There’s more than enough cooling built in to facilitate both systems at once. Furthermore, since both systems are in one setup, there’s very little risk of malfunction or miscommunication.
Origin reps mentioned that this setup might be especially good for younger streamers, who want to develop their broadcast skills, but don’t necessarily possess the tech-savvy necessary to build a complicated streaming setup.
Performance and resolution
While Origin had both the PS4 and Xbox One models up and running at CES, only the Xbox One model was plugged into a monitor. As such, I spent a few minutes getting a feel for the Big O with Forza Horizon 4. The game handled just as well as it would have on any other Xbox One – which is not surprising. To craft each Big O model, Origin simply purchases PS4s and Xbox Ones, then disassembles them and slaps them inside a chassis alongside a standard gaming PC.
According to Origin reps, it was much harder to integrate the PS4 components – at least at first. The PS4’s motherboard doesn’t separate as neatly from its chassis, making it difficult to space out the PS4 parts without compromising their functionality. But over time, the company got used to the PS4’s idiosyncrasies, and now creating a desktop with either console built in is a relatively comparable process.
One disappointing thing: I noticed Forza running in 1080p resolution. That’s because while the PS4 Big O has a PS4 Pro system built in, the Xbox One version has an Xbox One S. The PS4 Pro supports 4K resolutions; the Xbox One S does not.
Origin reps explained that this is at least partially because they don’t necessarily expect the Xbox One version to sell a tremendous amount of units. Most Xbox One games are also available on PC; therefore, installing an Xbox One alongside a gaming rig is fairly redundant. The PS4, on the other hand, boasts a number of exclusive titles and features, making it an excellent companion to a powerful gaming computer.
The Big O is available right now, although it can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly, depending on what kind of parts you want to use — it'd be pretty easy to configure a rig with a price tag soaring past $3,000. The most expensive setup i could make was $8,015, before even getting to peripherals.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles will both likely come out later this year, making the PS4 and Xbox One less and less useful over time.
Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest news and hands-on impressions out of Las Vegas.