Ah, the 1980s—whether in fashion or music, or a pining for what seems like a pre-Internet “simpler time,” nostalgia is in nowadays. No surprise, then: Origin PC takes that to the limit with its one-of-a-kind Millennium Hard Line prebuilt gaming PC. It’s a mega-desktop that, in its “Vice Edition” outer shell we received, oozes 1980s chic—specifically, 1980s Miami Vice chic—from every pixel. Blue-on-pink accents wrap themselves around an absolute monster of a machine ($6,557 as tested), and while performance on this beast was undeniably powerful in certain gaming tests, the price will melt most bank accounts down to their essential ore. If you’ve got bucks to burn, plus a shrine to Don Johnson squirreled away somewhere in your house, this Millennium is just the gaming PC for you. If not, plenty of cheaper options serve up near-comparable performance at less Day-Glo prices.
The ’80s Are Alive in Miami
One thing you can say about this Origin model right out of the gate: You’ve never seen a custom PC like this one.
Sure, the pervasive liquid-cooling setup is familiar from other dream machines, the GPU waterblocks are fancy but not unique, and if you’ve seen one RGB-laden memory stick, you’ve seen ’em all. But the way the color scheme comes together here revives a lost age. The custom version of the Hard Line we tested, dubbed the “Vice Edition,” features a design palette that can be applied to any system the company offers. And it’s positively dripping in love for Origin PC’s hometown of Miami, or at least the Miami of Miami Vice, circa 1985. (Note: Just to be clear, it’s not an officially licensed tie-in product, and the side says “Origin Vice.”)
The blue-on-pink aesthetic is straight-up art, and everything the desktop sets out to do, it does to the max. Both sides of the unit feature etched glass, complete with custom designs that smack you in the face with about as much ’80s typography and cheese as you can handle. All it’s missing are flamingos.
One small gripe here is that on the right side of the machine, Origin doesn’t outfit the PC with LED strips to bring focus to the gorgeously rendered pane. (It has glass, but not transparency to the interior.)
Outside of these aesthetic touches, the case itself is based off Origin’s steel-frame Millennium chassis, which we’ve seen in years past. It’s still plenty functional enough to please most buyers. The full-tower steel case measures 20 inches tall, 9 inches wide, and 23 inches deep, and comes in at a hefty 30 pounds. You won’t be lugging this hulk around much.
The angled top of the front panel is protected by a metal plate attached to a sliding mechanism, and under it you’ll spot two USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, two 3.5mm jacks (one for headphones, one for a mic), the power/reset buttons, and an LED switch that changes the internal mood lighting from pink to white and back again.
On the rear of the unit are the motherboard-mounted ports emerging from the deluxe Asus motherboard inside. You will find four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 video outs (for the Core i9 chip’s integrated graphics, which you’ll never use), two antenna mounts for the Intel Wireless-AC 9560 Wi-Fi, and a BIOS-flashback button. The last is a hardware switch that resets the BIOS to stock settings should your tweaks keep the system from posting.
The Top of the Top of the Line
Want to get inside the machine? The case opens on a magnetic latch—nothing special, but you’ll have little reason to open up this PC except to admire Origin’s handiwork over and over. The internals of the machine are easy enough to access if you ever wanted to add any upgrades, but those may be difficult to justify, given that nearly every component inside the Millennium is already top-shelf.
These killer parts include two Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics cards, an Intel Core i9-9900K 3.6GHz processor (Intel’s best mainstream chip outside of its expensive Core X-Series), an Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero motherboard, and 32GB of Kingston DDR4 3,200MHz RAM. The CPU and GPUs come pre-overclocked out of the box. (More on that later.)
The storage arrangement is a twin-drive affair: a 1TB Samsung SSD 970 Pro M.2 NVMe drive on the motherboard, plus a 6TB Western Digital Red hard drive. It’s all powered by a 1,000-watt EVGA power supply.
Inside the unit, as you’ve doubtless noticed in the photos here, a few feet of hard-line liquid-cooling tubes run to the CPU and both graphics cards. They pump pink-tinted coolant through a three-fan radiator secured to the top of the unit. Outside of that custom cooling setup, a single 120mm, RGB-lit Corsair fan is mounted above the GPUs. As I saw in my thermal testing (read on for that), more than I expected of the heat generated by the PC as a whole fires out the back through this fan, rather than out the top through the radiator. The key parts are liquid-cooled, but some heat is still generated by the power modules and the like on the mainboard.
A Performance Powerhouse
Normally, this would be the section where we’d compare the performance of the Millennium Hard Line Vice Edition to another prebuilt system we’ve tested before. But, because the specs of the Millennium exceed the bar set by any other system we’ve seen by such a large margin (the dual GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards and custom cooling have a lot to do with that), it’s difficult to make a 1:1 comparison in this regard.
That said, some of the tests, such as the productivity tasks based solely on components like the SSD, the CPU, and the RAM, can be referenced against other prebuilt machines like the Corsair One i160. Here’s a cheat sheet to the core specs of the PC Labs-tested machines I’ll use for comparison…
Productivity, Storage & Media Tests
PCMark 10 (Productivity Test) & PCMark 8 (Storage Test)
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet work, web browsing, and videoconferencing. The test generates a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
Given the spec sheet of the Millennium, I was expecting the system to start breaking records left and right. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the Millennium faltered in PCMark 10, scoring more than 700 points under (roughly 10 percent) another recently released desktop, the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55. With its major liquid-cooling installation, I was expecting the aggressive thermals of the Millennium to take it to the top in every test we ran. But as you’ll see, the desktop falls short in a few areas where, at least from a glance, it should dominate outright.
Its PCMark 8 scores were nothing out of the ordinary, but in this benchmark that’s actually a badge of honor. Most PC Express SSDs like the boot drive here score similarly.
Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
This trend continued throughout the rest of our benchmarks. Here, the $2,999 Raptor Z55 leads the Millennium by a small amount in Cinebench R15.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time. As with Handbrake, lower times are better here. The Photoshop test stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters, so systems with powerful graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The Millennium regained a bit of ground on the Photoshop CC run, though just barely, with a 3-second lead over the Raptor Z55. For $3,400 extra, we’d expect a bit more dominance here.
3DMark Sky Diver & Fire Strike
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
With dual GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards under the hood, this is where the Millennium finally starts to break out, posting record results in both tests.
Next up is another synthetic graphics test, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it’s rendered in the company’s eponymous Unigine engine, offering a different 3D workload scenario than 3DMark, for a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess.
Superposition isn’t designed to take advantage of an NVLink GPU setup, so the Origin’s results here are close to the rest of the systems we’ve tested with single-card RTX 2080 Ti configurations.
Real-World Gaming Tests
Far Cry 5 & Rise of the Tomb Raider
The synthetic tests above are helpful for measuring general 3D aptitude, but it’s hard to beat full retail video games for judging gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern, high-fidelity titles with built-in benchmarks that illustrate how a system handles real-world video games at various settings.
These are run on the maximum graphics-quality presets (Ultra for Far Cry 5, Very High for Rise of the Tomb Raider) at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions to determine the sweet spot of visuals and smooth performance for a given system. The results are also provided in frames per second. Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider can be flipped to DX12, which we do for the benchmark.
Here the Millennium continues to shatter gaming records, which makes sense when you consider the amount of sheer GPU horsepower the system has at its disposal. It seems these games can leverage the twin cards to good effect.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider & Metro: Exodus
Finally, we come to one of the games in our benchmark runs that can actually support to the fullest extent GeForce RTX cards connected via NVLink: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (SOTR). This title also makes use of the RT and Tensor cores on RTX cards with native ray-tracing, backed up by Nvidia’s DLSS anti-aliasing technology.
The other game here, Metro: Exodus, doesn’t support NVLink, but its bleeding-edge graphics and support for ray-tracing/DLSS make it another solid benchmark to test RTX cards against.
While we don’t have a one-to-one comparison to point to among previous prebuilt systems we’ve tested, we do have baseline numbers for single and twin GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards from PC Labs’ video-card testbed. We used it in an article on 4K 144Hz gaming a few months ago, wherein we did some NVLink testing of our own, sans the Intel Core i9-9900K. (The PC Labs testbed PC is built around the previous-gen Core i7-8700K.)
On Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the Millennium lines up pretty close to those testbed-based tests, with some clear improvements at 1440p and 4K thanks to the overclocking and watercooling that Origin shipped the system with. (Our testbed was air-cooled.) Metro: Exodus actually fared worse than on our testbed runs, though.
This is likely due to the lack of optimizations in Metro: Exodus for dual-RTX card setups, despite the game’s significant power requirements just to get to 60 frames per second (fps) with all settings turned to max. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the DLSS optimizations actually help the game to run faster in 1440p and 4K resolutions than they do in 1080p, which are just another feather in Nvidia’s cap when it comes to selling the idea that you should buy DLSS-capable cards over their non-DLSS counterparts.
The problem with comparing our original NVLink testing in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and the tests in the Millennium, however, comes down to patches. Shadow’s development team at Eidos has pushed multiple patches for DLSS and RTX in the past few months, which means that the results from May (when we ran an NVLink test on our in-house testbed) may look slower or less consistent than the results from the Hard Line Vice Edition, which were run in August.
As game developers get more comfortable with all the ins and outs of RTX/DLSS, we expect these results to smooth out over time. But for now, know that if you want to run games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider at or above 144fps in 4K resolution, a dual-GeForce RTX 2080 Ti setup is the only way you’re going to get there. That only matters to folks with a high-refresh-rate 4K monitor. Whether it needs to be elaborately (and expensively) cooled, like in this machine, is another matter.
Upon spotting the liquid-cooling system I would be working with (a custom three-fan radiator-cooled beauty), my first instinct was to see how much further I could push the components in this machine before it returned blue screens.
After a good amount of troubleshooting and back and forth with Origin, I was finally able to get the overclocking working through EVGA’s Precision X1 tool so I could do my own tuning past what Origin had done on its own, a 150MHz gain on the GPU boost clock and 100MHz on the memory clock. Once I did, however, I was disappointed to see that so much watercooling was essentially going to waste on the GPU side. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti represents the absolute pinnacle of Nvidia’s consumer-level GPUs, but there just isn’t a ton of headroom to work with on overclocking the card.
Through many iterations of tuning and tweaking, I was finally able to achieve a max stable overclock of 175MHz on the boost clock of the card, and 250MHz on the memory, representing an 11 percent and 14 percent jump over the base clocks, respectively.
Unfortunately, these gains in clocks didn’t translate to equivalent boosts in frame rates, with both Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmarks performing, roughly, just 2 and 4 percent better in 4K tests, respectively.
Cool Under Pressure
Due to its extensive cooling system, it was obvious from the jump that the Millennium Hard Line would do well in thermal testing scenarios. That said, as my tweaking illustrates, there’s not much point to putting watercooling on a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti since the overclocking ceiling is so low. But the watercooling on the Millennium is impressive, nonetheless.
At load on air cooling alone, a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti will hit a ceiling of around 85 degrees C when stressed to the max, depending on the amount of airflow running through the rest of the case. Conversely, in the water-cooled Millennium, on a 10-minute stress test running the 3DMark Port Royal benchmark (which activates all of the three types of cores in the RTX 2080 Ti, including Tensor and RT), the card topped out at a chilly 65 degrees C.
This efficiency is illustrated here by the heat exhaust pattern, seen in the FLIR imaging below. What waste heat wasn’t handled by the liquid cooling gear was mainly centered on the motherboard’s heatspreaders around the CPU socket, and that was dissipated out by the rear exhaust fan rather than the fans cooling the radiator up top.
Very Pretty, Very Pricey
Now, the Hard Line Vice Edition is the kind of PC that if you know you want it, you want it blind to the value proposition. And if you don’t, no value argument can make it make sense. But let’s take a hard-nosed look at the pricing.
Pricing out the Millennium Hard Line’s components for ourselves on a third-party site (including our best estimates for the hard tubing, fittings, and waterblocks), the component costs came out to roughly $4,300 out the door. This means that with the Millennium, you’re paying a nontrivial $2,000-plus for what amounts to two etched pieces of glass, some system tuning, and the labor of putting the system together. (And, of course, some margin for Origin PC!)
Boutique systems always come at a premium, and while the effort that Origin put into the Millennium to set it apart is apparent (no doubt, this system will turn heads at home or down at your local LAN tourney), the extra few thousand dollars worth of labor and effort that went into this machine make it hard to justify that gap in cost, given the incremental advantage that the liquid cooling delivers.
Sure, two GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards don’t come cheap (that’s $2,400 to $2,500 right there). But do you really need them in the first place? Only a handful of AAA games support NVLink in the second half of 2019, which means that much of the time, one of your $1,200 graphics cards will just be sitting idle. Not only that, but the desktop was rivaled on productivity and creator tasks by the Velocity Micro Z55 Raptor at less than half its cost. All that watercooling and extra RAM was mostly just dressing for tasks like that.
For our money and yours, unless you’re smitten by the “Origin Vice” theme, go with a cheaper configuration from Origin or another boutique builder, and add some blue-and-pink LED accents yourself. Then take the cash you saved and buy yourself a 4K 144Hz monitor. Heck, get two of them, then spend the extra $100 you’ll still have left over on a nice dinner for yourself instead—as well as the Blu-ray version of Miami Vice: The Complete Series. When we wrote this, it was under $50 on Amazon.