EDITOR'S NOTE, 7/17/20: After troubleshooting several issues with Origin, Tom's Guide has decided to remove the score from this review. Once we're able to get a new unit, we'll update this story with a full score. We've also edited some of the review to clarify where the system was working as intended, and where the hardware may have been at fault.
The Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R variant (starting at $1,483) can be anything you want it to be. This beefy gaming desktop offers a ton of customization options, letting you choose everything from your tower color to your CPU to your cooling system. In theory, this sounds like a neophyte PC gamer's dream come true: a way to build your own PC without having to grapple with voltages and screwdrivers and the inevitable moment when you flip the power switch for the first time and nothing turns on.
On the other hand, having reviewed an Origin Neuron ($3,542 as configured), I came away from the experience with just as many frustrations. I encountered many performance issues with the Origin Neuron that I reviewed. Peripherals wouldn't pair; games chugged at an unplayable frame rate; lockups and freezes were common.
On paper, the Origin Neuron can be an extremely powerful machine, and if you're spending a lot of money on it, it's just because you're getting a gorgeous, functional product at the end of the process. But the unit that I reviewed didn't live up to my expectations.
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R price and configurations
As stated, the best thing about the Origin Neuron is that you can configure it from scratch to suit your preferences. The cheapest configuration costs $1,483, and comes with an Intel Core i5 9600K 3.7 GHz CPU, an MSI Z390-A PRO motherboard, 16GB of Ram, standard fan cooling, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super GPU, Windows 10 Home edition, a 240GB SSD, a Corsair 550X CX series power supply and an integrated audio card.
While it would take too long to detail the price of every single configuration, the most expensive one I was able to craft costs $7,676 (not including peripherals, extended warranties and fancy wooden shipping crates). This configuration includes an Intel Core i9-10940X 3.30 GHz processor, an Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming II motherboard, 128GB of RAM, a Corsair H150i Pro RGB liquid cooling system, an Nvidia GeForce RTX Titan GPU, Windows 10 Professional edition, a 2 TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus SSD for the operating system, a 4 TB Samsung 860 Pro for storage, a Corsair 1000X RMX power supply and a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Rx sound card.
Naturally, there are myriad options in between, depending on how much you have to spend. The bottom line, however, is that the systems start off fairly expensive, and can get downright unaffordable. The starting Neuron configuration, for example, is not obscenely different from a Dell G5 5090 variation, and yet the Dell costs only $1,050. Granted, the Neuron is more powerful, but I don't know if it's almost $400 more powerful.
In any case, the configuration we reviewed costs $3,542, with an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, an Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, 32GB of RAM, a Corsair 500GB primary hard drive, a 2 TB Seagate FireCuda secondary hard drive, Origin Frostbyte 360 liquid cooling and a Corsair 850X RMX power supply.
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R design
One thing that the Origin Neuron absolutely nails is its appearance. Its solid black chassis and brushed metal façade are both elegant and durable, although they do add a great deal of weight to the PC. The PC measures 17.8 x 16.0 x 8.1 inches and weighs 28.23 pounds, meaning you'll need a large and sturdy desk, unless you got some clean, well-ventilated floor space.
There are two things I appreciate about the Neuron's physical design: its glass side panel, and its ease of access for internal components. The glass side panel makes it easy to see what's going on inside the case, and you can remove the whole setup with four small screws. (I found that a flathead screwdriver helps, if you value your fingernails, but it's not strictly necessary.) Swapping components in and out is a simple process, and there's a proper place for all the cables.
Origin Neuron corsair Carbide 175R key specs
|Starting Configuration||Our Configuration|
|CPU||Intel Core i5 9600K 3.7 GHz||AMD Ryzen 9 3950X|
|Storage||240GB SSD||500GB primary / 2 TB secondary|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080|
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R ports and upgradability
If there's one thing the Origin Neuron doesn't lack, it's ports. On the front top of the machine, there are two USB ports and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Around the back, you'll find seven USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one USB-C port, two Ethernet ports, an optical audio port and five different 3.5 mm sound jacks (for various types of accessories and applications). The GPU has three DisplayPorts, one HDMI port and one USB-C port. If there's a gadget you can't plug into the Origin Neuron, I can't think of it.
As stated above, upgradability is simple, thanks to the Neuron's clean internal structure and easy-to-remove glass panel.
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R gaming performance
The reason why I can't recommend the Origin Neuron in good conscience is because the unit that I reviewed had a lot of trouble running games. That's a significant problem in any gaming computer, particularly an expensive one.
First, the Neuron's specs are fine on paper. Running a number of benchmarks, we came up with some decent framerate numbers. At 1080p on Ultra settings, the system ran Middle-Earth: Shadow of War at 124 fps, Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 99 fps, Far Cry: New Dawn at 84 fps and Grand Theft Auto V at 104 fps.
Compare and contrast to our category averages for those games: 123 fps, 95 fps, 86 fps and 105 fps, respectively. All of the Neuron's stats are extremely close to the category averages, which is not necessarily what we'd expect from such an expensive system.
Origin e-mailed me to point out that these numbers do not match up with its internal benchmarks. However, we benchmarked the Origin Neuron with the exact same process that we use to test all other machines we review in-house.
The Neuron did not do much better when compared with a similarly priced system, the Corsair One i160. The One i160 scored 123 fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 140 fps on Grand Theft Auto V. We didn't test the other two games on the Corsair system, but other metrics from titles like Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider suggest that the i160 is a considerably better-optimized system.
The 4K situation is less encouraging. Compare and contrast the following numbers:
· Shadow of War: 62 fps Neuron / 71 fps average
· Far Cry: New Dawn: 64 fps Neuron / 65 fps average
· Shadow of the Tomb Raider: 35 fps Neuron / 37 fps average
· Grand Theft Auto V: 34 fps Neuron / 37 fps average
Again, the Neuron is close to all the category averages, except that this time it falls a little short. For the amount of money Origin charges, we'd expect the Neuron to perform at least a little better. (And yes, once again, the Corsair One i160 performed better with Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto V: 47 fps and 45 fps, respectively.)
During everyday play, the performance is mixed. I tested a variety of games, and was pleased with about half of them. Overwatch ran smoothly, letting me glide around the battlefield with ease. Likewise, Pathfinder: Kingmaker ran well, letting me control my party, issue orders and enjoy the complex story without too much issue — at least when the game started up. Sometimes, the system would inexplicably freeze while starting up games, and Kingmaker seemed to give the Neuron more trouble than most. In both games, the framerate rarely dropped below 60 fps on a 1080p monitor.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition ran beautifully, even with the enhanced graphics package installed and all the settings turned up, complete with a stable framerate around 60 fps. No matter how many units I created or how complex the orders I issued, the Neuron kept up with every command and let me zoom in as close as I wanted to see the action in real time.
But some games ran much, much worse. World of Warcraft took about 10 minutes to boot up, from the time I launched the game, to the time I was able to play it. (It loaded piecemeal, and made me wait until every last blade of grass was rendered before I could move around.) Shadow of War ran inexcusably poorly, with every move I made accompanied by terrible lag. The framerate hovered around 8 fps during combat, making the game unplayable.
Origin provided tech support after I brought up these issues, but we were unable to get to the root of the issue. It's entirely possible that the review unit we tested was not indicative of the Neuron's general performance, but until we test a new unit, it's hard to say anything definitive on the topic.
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R overall performance
Everyday productivity worked better on the Origin Neuron; after all, word processors and music players are not going to faze a system designed to play big-budget games at high resolutions. No matter how many tabs I had open in Chrome, no matter how many videos I streamed, no matter how much music I listened to, the Neuron kept pace with my activities. This is fitting, considering the system's powerful AMD Ryzen 9 3950X processor and 32 GB of RAM.
Unless I needed Bluetooth connectivity, that is. I don't know if this is an isolated or widespread issue, but I could barely get Bluetooth to work on the Neuron. As soon as it discovered Bluetooth devices, it lost them again in the middle of pairing. My keyboard would stay paired for only a minute or two at a time; the Neuron wouldn't even recognize my earbuds. Origin explained that this was due to a missing Bluetooth antenna in our review unit. As such, most users should have better luck with Bluetooth, but that's still what we experienced.
The system performed well on some of our synthetic benchmarks. Copying 5GB of data from an external hard drive took only 2.8 seconds, considerably less than our 12.9-second average. (Our lab tech pointed out that this was not the case while copying over games from external hard drives, which she said took an extremely long time.) On the other hand, the Neuron fell short of the category average in the Geekbench 4.3 test: 33,610 for the Neuron versus 36,113 for the average. The Geekbench 5.0 test revealed similar results: 8,520 for the Neuron and 10,251 for the average.
Once again, the Neuron did not compare favorably to the Corsair i160. The Neuron scored 3,966 in the 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra benchmark, and 7,119 in the 3DMark Port Royal benchmark, while the One i160 blew past it with 8,389 in Fire Strike Ultra and 13,269 in Port Royal.
Origin Neuron Corsair Carbide 175R verdict
I can't recommend the Origin Neuron — at least, not the configuration that we received. It's difficult to determine whether the problems we encountered were structural or isolated to our review unit, but either way, the system didn't work very well in our qualitative tests.
Still, the customization options at your disposal are impressive, and you get a very pretty, easy-to-upgrade system. I can't imagine recommending an Origin system to anyone who feels comfortable building his or her own PC, but the Carbide 175R chassis is a handsome case, if you can get your hands on it separately.
Whether you're looking for a high- or low-end pre-built PC, the Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition is a better bet all around.