Falcon Northwest FragBox 2 (Intel Core i7) review:

Falcon Northwest FragBox 2 (Intel Core i7)

Far Cry 2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Our gaming tests tell an interesting story as well. We'll forgive the FragBox's third-place finish on our Unreal Tournament 3. Sorry gamers, but 200 frames per second will have to do. More importantly, the FragBox 2 dominates its competition on our highest resolution Crysis and Far Cry 2 benchmarks. Those tests provide a more accurate predictor of how a PC will handle the most demanding, current 3D games. Yes, it's one of the most expensive gaming systems we've reviewed this year, so we'd expect the FragBox 2 to do well. We're glad to see that it lives up to our expectations as a higher-end gaming PC.

We've dinged Falcon Northwest in the past for not building wireless networking into its FragBox systems. You can opt for a wireless-networking card, among other options, but you'd have to sacrifice one of the dual-slot graphics cards to make room for it. Falcon Northwest' solution with our review unit came by way of a D-Link Rangebooster G USB 2.0 adapter, a $59 option that you have to ask for specially, as it's not listed on the FragBox 2 configuration page. We can't say we love the idea of a USB dongle hanging off the system as opposed to an integrated solution, but we're glad to have the option.

Falcon Northwest has always done well on our support ratings for its paid back-and-forth repair shipping policy, a unique service that few other vendors match. To compete with Maingear's aggressive cost-cutting on hardware, Falcon has also upgraded the warranty from one year to three years for the FragBox 2. A price war might be tough for vendors in a recession, but as long as you see concessions like these (and as long as the vendors involved can stay in business doing so), you win. Falcon Northwest also offers toll-free phone support from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, seven days a week, and a variety of help resources on its support Web page.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Dell XPS 625
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 3.0GHz AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Falcon Northwest FragBox 2 (Intel Core i7 920)
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 (overclocked); 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards; 1.5TB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

HP Firebird 803 with VoodooDNA
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 2.83GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800S graphics cards; (2) 320GB 5,400 rpm hard drives

Maingear X-Cube
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 3.7GHz (overclocked) AMD Phenom II X4 940; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 4870X2 graphics card; 1GB Radeon HD 4870 graphics card; (2) 750GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives

Velocity Micro Edge Z55
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked); 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics cards; 750GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive

What you'll pay

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