Falcon Northwest Tiki (Core i7 3770K) review:

Falcon Northwest Tiki (Core i7 3770K)

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)  

Metro 2033
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x1,600 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  

3DMark 11 combined test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry Level (1,680x1,050)  
Falcon Northwest Tiki (Core i7 3770K, June 2012)

Annual energy consumption cost

The bigger loss for the Falcon comes on our gaming charts. Again, anyone with a single 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution monitor would be happy with these frame rates. The advantage for the dual card Maingear and the Origin Genesis comes primarily if you want to play at higher resolutions across two monitors. The extra graphics headroom will also come in handy if you want to enable Nvidia's 3D Vision, or other 3D visual effects.

At least the Tiki can say that it obliterated the Alienware x51 slim tower. The x51 is a competent gaming PC for its price, but in absolute terms, the Tiki ran away with the victory in its slim-tower subcategory.

One other advantage for the Tiki over the Alienware x51 is that Falcon Northwest made sure the Tiki has plenty of room for hard drives. The x51 only supports a single internal drive. With its 3.5-inch slot, and its pair of 2.5-inch drive bays, the Tiki can accommodate up to three hard drives. Falcon Northwest sent only two in our review unit, but you can add a second solid-state drive either post purchase, or on the Falcon Northwest configurator.

That drive-bay vacancy represents the only expansion room you get in the Tiki. The graphics card takes up all of the available card expansion, and both memory slots came occupied as well.

Falcon Northwest also pushed harder than Alienware on connectivity options. On the back of the Tiki you get four USB 3.0 ports, along with four standard USB 2.0 inputs. Falcon also includes two eSATA ports, an S/PDIF audio output, and a set of analog jacks to support 5.1 audio out. On the graphics card you get two DVI outputs, and full-size DisplayPort and HDMI jacks.

For service and support, Falcon Northwest still has some of the best policies in the industry. The Tiki nets you three years of parts-and-labor warranty coverage as its default plan. Falcon also offers free shipping to and from its offices for repair. Phone support is not 24-7, but lines are open from a still-generous 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, seven days a week, and are staffed by an entirely in-house support team.

You could argue that the slim-tower case design is better suited for a modest gaming system like the Alienware x51, and that it would only stifle a more ambitious configuration. I would counter that Falcon Northwest has demonstrated with the Tiki that there is room to innovate within the constraints of the slim-tower chassis. The Tiki's integrated power supply, its liquid cooling hardware, its overclocked CPU, and its impressive hard-drive real estate all illustrate my point.

That does not mean this system is for every fat-walleted gamer. If you value 3D performance over space savings, Maingear's F131 is a better fit. But if you want the best gaming system you can cram into a slim-tower chassis, the Falcon Northwest Tiki makes a strong case for itself. For that customer, this is the first PC I'd recommend.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Falcon Northwest Tiki (Intel Core i7 3770K)
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit; 4.3GHz Intel Core i7-377K (overclocked); 8GB 1,866MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards; 256GB solid-state hard drive; 2TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive

Maingear F131 (Intel Core i7 3770K, May 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-3770K (overclocked); 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards; 60GB Corasir Accelera solid state drive; 2TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Alienware X51 (Core i5-2320, January 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-2320; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 555 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Origin Genesis (Intel Core i7 3770K, April 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.6GHz Intel Core i7-3770K (overclocked); 16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards; (2) 60GB Corsair Force GT solid state drives; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (Intel Core i7 2700K, February 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 4.9GHz Intel Core i7-2700K (overclocked); 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1.28GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics cards; (2) 60GB Intel solid-state drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

What you'll pay

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