Origin Millennium (2019) review

Origin's Millennium is a desktop battle station that defeats all foes

Origin’s Millennium is the best custom gaming desktop you can buy.
Origin’s Millennium is the best custom gaming desktop you can buy.
Origin’s Millennium is the best custom gaming desktop you can buy.

Highs

  • Handsome design
  • Excellent build quality
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Strong performance in all benchmarks

Lows

  • Some competitors are quicker

Video games have conquered the world. You can play on almost anything; a laptop, a $300 smartphone, even an entry-level Chromebook. Yet, a massive gap remains between the simplest games and those beloved by ‘core’ gamer. You’re not going to play Metro: Exodus at 4K and maximum detail on a smartphone.

For that, you need a serious gaming battlestation – like Origin’s Millennium. This flagship full tower desktop is massive in both size and price. It stands 20 inches tall, weighs at least 30 pounds, and starts north of $2,000. The fully equipped review unit I tested, which had a Core i9-9900K and dual Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti video cards, rang up near $5,750.

That’s a lot of money, though not unusual for a top-tier gaming desktop. And as it turns out, the Millennium is money well spent.

Handsome gamer

Origin was among the first custom PC builders to switch its flagship desktop to a custom enclosure. That enclosure was updated to its second-generation last year — and we were impressed. The massive Millennium combines a sleek metal front, which swings out to reveal the optical drive (if equipped) and hot-swap hard drive bays, with tempered glass flanks secured by magnets. The result in a sleek, clean, imposing silhouette. It looks subtle when compared to the insanity of Alienware’s Area-51 or the monolithic Digital Storm Aventum X, but I think Origin’s rig is the most handsome of the three. It’s serious, confident, and even professional – depending on the color you buy.

The Millennium’s chassis is built from steel and most surfaces are either glass or aluminum, which gives the case serious heft. Seriously. You could pick it up solo, but I recommend you bring a friend, as even a minor drop could shatter those beautiful glass side panels. The front-facing port panels remains the sole build quality weakness. It’s made from a thin piece of plastic that feels out of place on this otherwise hefty PC.

While the Millennium’s quality is obvious at a glance, the custom enclosure has another big advantage over most competitors. Customization. Origin designed the case so it can be configured multiple ways. The motherboard can be located on either the right or left side of the case, and oriented so the motherboard ports face towards the rear or the top.

It’s serious, confident, and even professional – depending on the color you buy.

It’s a nerdy detail, but there’s practical benefit. You can order the Millennium in a configuration that works best for your gaming den or office. An enthusiast who often tinkers with the system and frequently swaps peripherals might want to have the motherboard ports facing up for ease of access, while a video editor building a god-tier rig might steer towards a more traditional setup.

The Origin Millennium offers a light show but, true to theme, it’s subdued. The glowing Origin logo up front is the only custom element. It looks fine, but many peers offer multiple custom lighting elements that combine for more visual flair. The Millennium can even be ordered with two aluminum side panels instead of glass, further reducing the wow factor.

Personally, I don’t much care. Insane lighting isn’t my thing. But it’s something to keep in mind if you want a desktop with lights that flash in time with a game’s framerate (kidding – that’s not really a thing. I think). What I do care about is a sense of quality and attractive, elegant design. That’s where the Millennium delivers.

Lots of ports, minus the thunder

The Millennium’s front-facing ports may be clad in flimsy plastic, but it’s well located. A slide-down panel hides the power button, rest button, two USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C 3.1 port, and the headphone/microphone jacks. It’s a standard setup, but the ports are located exactly where they need to be.

Origin Millennium (2019) review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Rear-facing ports will depend on the motherboard, but even the least expensive configuration includes multiple USB 3.1 ports with one additional, rear-facing USB-C 3.1. You’ll also receive 7.1 audio.

Thunderbolt 3 is not available, however. None of the Millennium’s available motherboards support it. You’ll have to buy Origin’s L-Class workstation if you want that. I would like to see Thunderbolt on a system as expensive as the Millennium but, to be fair, it’s also absent from the competition.

Want to upgrade? No problem

Origin may use a custom enclosure, but the Millennium’s internals are pleasantly familiar once you dig into them. Alternative configurations, like those that tilt the motherboard ports towards the top, might slightly confuse new enthusiasts.

The case is large, of course, so there’s no shortage of space for upgrades. A basic configuration will have only one PCI slot used, offering room for multiple video cards or other add-in PCI cards. There’s also room for up to nine hard drives, counting the m.2 and hard drive bays together. You can up that to ten if you also take advantage of optional Intel Optane graphics.

I expect any flagship desktop to offer pristine internals, and the Millennium does not disappoint.

High-configurations might use all these expansion opportunities, of course, but they’re so expensive that most people won’t opt for them. Even our decked-out review unit had plenty of space for upgrading the RAM, hard drives, and PCIe cards.

Cracking open the case is easy, as the side glass is secured by magnets. Minor upgrades usually won’t require the use of tools. A more serious change, like a new processor or motherboard, will mean breaking out a screwdriver and tweezers, but the Millennium’s large size and easy access to both sides of the rig means swapping these components is simpler than doing the same on a smaller, mass-produced desktop.

Origin Millennium (2019) review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

You’ll find just one obstacle in your way – Origin’s own high standards. Our Millennium review unit was tightly wound with carefully arranged and secured cables that placed everything exactly where it should be to offer a clean presentation. You might have to move some cables, which means ruining the careful cable routing you paid for. Good luck restoring it to Origin’s exacting standards.

That’s not a real complaint, though. I expect any flagship desktop to offer pristine internals, and the Millennium does not disappoint.

The Core i9-9900K rides to victory

Our Origin Millennium review unit arrived with an Intel Core i9-9900K operating at its standard base clock speed of 3.6GHz, which can turbo up to 5GHz. This is an extremely powerful eight-core chip with hyper-threading. We’ve now seen it in four different systems, and all of them deliver outstanding results.

Unlike an AMD Ryzen chip, or Intel’s more expensive X-Series processors, the Intel Core i9-9900K delivers a balanced blend of single-core and multi-core performance. It beats any previously tested chip in both single-core and multi-core performance. We’ve yet to review a rig with Intel’s newest 9th-generation X-Series chips inside, and we know they’d win in multi-core test (the i9-9980XE has 18 cores!) Still, there’s no doubt the Core i9-9900K hits a sweet spot for most tasks.

The Origin Millennium doesn’t seem to offer an edge over the competitors with the same chip. It only trades blows with the Asus Strix GL12X, and comes up a bit behind the Digital Storm Aventum X.

If you want to play at 4K without turning details down, the Millennium has you covered.

However, the gaps between all the Core i9-9900K systems we’ve tested are too small to be meaningful in real-world use. That became evident in our Handbrake benchmark, which transcodes a 4K video clip from h.264 to h.265. All four tested desktops came within a few seconds of each other. You’d never notice a difference without a stopwatch.

While the Millennium’s processor performance is on par with the competition, its hard drive performance is in another league. The review unit arrived with a Samsung 970 Pro m.2 drive that conquered our benchmark with ease.

I saw read speeds over three gigabytes per second and write speeds over two gigabytes per second. Those aren’t records, but they’re excellent all the same. Keep in mind, though, that competing rigs may offer hard drive upgrades that put them in a similar league.

Let’s get to the gaming

The Millennium is capable of many things, but gaming is its best purpose. Our review system came maxed out with two Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti video cards in SLI, the most powerful configuration currently available. So, how’d it fair? Let’s start with 3DMark.

3DMark Time Spy benchmark runs beautifully on the Origin Millennium, but the results aren’t entirely favorable. Origin’s rig comes up short of the Digital Storm Aventum X, which Digital Trends tested while also equipped with two Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. That edge is likely due to the Aventum’s use of liquid cooling loop for both video cards.

That’s just one benchmark, though. Does that result translate to real-world gaming? Let’s start at 1080p.

A twin RTX 2080 Ti rig like the Origin Millennium I tested is overkill for 1080p gaming. Mostly. Like its competitors, the Millennium was often bumping off engine framerate caps during our tests. Yet there are some games, like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, that require this much horsepower if you want to play on a 1080p screen with a 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate and gain full benefit of that feature.

The Millennium trades blows with the Digital Storm Aventum X, a prime competitor, throughout these tests. Neither has an overall definitive edge over the other. It’s time to turn up the heat.

This is a more realistic resolution for a high-end rig like the Origin Millennium, though you might be confused by the numbers. Many aren’t much different from the 1080p results. As mentioned, the Millennium is so fast it’s often hitting engine framerate caps or, if not that, a CPU bottleneck. It’s still running into those obstacles even at 1440p.

You can find signs the Millennium has limits, though. Battlefield 1 averages 177 frames per second at ultra detail instead of hitting the engine cap. Deux Ex: Mankind Divided averages 113 frames per second, which isn’t quite enough to satisfy a 1440p monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Origin Millennium and Digital Storm Aventum X continue to trade blows at this resolution, with no clear winner emerging. That can only mean one thing. It’s time to go to 4K.

4K gaming is probably what a gamer who buys the Origin Millennium wants to achieve. The results prove it’s an obtainable dream. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided still averages 70 frames per second at ultra detail. That’s not possible with a single RTX 2080 Ti. Civilization VI exceeds 90 FPS, and Battlefield 1 hits 140 FPS, on average.

While the slugfest between the Millennium and Aventum X continues here, the latter does take the lead in most games. The Millennium only wins in Battlefield 1 at both medium and ultra detail. The Aventum X otherwise takes the lead, though not always by a meaningful amount.

I also tried two newer games; Battlefield V and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. The latest Battlefield title averaged an impressive 75 frames per second at 4k and maximum detail (note, however, that we didn’t enable ray tracing). The notoriously demanding Odyssey averaged 50 frames per second at 4K resolution and maximum detail.

Origin Millennium (2019) review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Origin Millennium is a gaming powerhouse. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, it’s what we would expect. The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is the fastest video card offered to gamers right now. Two of them, of course, is even better, tacking an extra 40 percent to the average framerate across the games we tested. That’s overkill for most gamers — but if you want to play at 4K without turning details down, the Millennium has you covered.

Our Take

The Origin Millennium is the best custom desktop you can buy today.

You do have to pay for the quality. Base models start just north of $2,000. Our review with an Intel Core i9-9900K, twin Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti video cards, 16GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM and 512GB Samsung 970 Pro M.2. hard drive, rung up to $5,750.

A flagship desktop is meant to make a statement, both for itself and for its own. The Millennium does that. This is a beautiful piece of hardware that looks handsome at a glance and only becomes more impressive the more closely it’s scrutinized.

Is there a better alternative?

Not in this category. The Origin Millennium is a stand-out among custom gaming desktops.

A less expensive system could serve you better if raw performance value is your goal, but the Millennium lines up with competition from other custom PC builders. The Digital Storm Aventum X is over $7,000 with similar hardware. Even CyberpowerPC, a company known for value, can hit a similar price point if you want the hardware found in the Millennium we tested.

The Falcon Northwest Mach V is another looker, but it could use a chassis update. The Alienware Area-51 offers an even more unique enclosure, but its processor options are lackluster.

How long will it last?

The Origin Millennium’s sturdy case and excellent build quality give me confidence this desktop can serve you from years. Internal hardware does go out of date, but the Millennium’s enclosure will remain useful so long as desktop PCs continue to be a thing.

I wish Origin would upgrade its warranty, however. Shipping is only covered for the first 45 days by default, a bit of fine print that could serve as a ‘gotcha!’ should any problems arise.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Origin Millennium is an outstanding desktop that any PC gamer would be proud to own.

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