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Falcon Northwest FragBox (2016) review: A compact powerhouse for VR and more

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MSRP: $5,727.00

The Good The Falcon Northwest FragBox can fit two brand-new graphics cards into an very compact chassis, and configurations are incredibly flexible. Performance, as expected, is outstanding.

The Bad Even basic configurations are expensive, and just adding a single paint color to the box drives up the price quickly. The tightly packed interior makes it hard for tinkerers to swap components as easily as in bigger desktops.

The Bottom Line The Falcon Northwest FragBox can be configured anywhere from pricey to super-expensive, but making a big investment in this expertly assembled compact gaming desktop is a way to future-proof against the next generation of VR and 4K gaming.

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8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9

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The FragBox by Falcon Northwest is a gaming desktop you could say we've had some experience with. This compact powerhouse has reinvented itself over and over again, and the latest version is packed with new components for an unmatched virtual-reality experience, in a chassis that's about a small as any Oculus Rift- or HTC Vive-ready desktop gets.

Before this, the most recent full review of a FragBox is from 2013, when it featured a fourth-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 GPU, and Windows 8. The oldest review I could find on CNET was from 2003, when the FragBox, in an earlier version of its toaster-like case, ran a Pentium 4 CPU, an Nvidia GTX 5600 GPU, and Windows XP.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That's all to say, this company and this compact gaming desktop line have been around for a while. When we slotted the latest FragBox into our roundup of gaming PCs equipped with Nvidia's newest GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, it stood out in a couple of ways. It was obviously the smallest, although the Alienware Aurora and Acer Predator G1 are fairly compact as well, but it also squeezed two new full-size video cards into its cozy case. Most PC makers dare only do that with a larger chassis that has plenty of room for fans and airflow (after all, liquid cooling can only do so much on its own).

But if you peer through the vent holes on top of the case, you will indeed see not one, but two new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 cards, packed tightly together. It's a feat of expert system building and cable bundling, and what's more, even under heavy use the aluminum exterior never gets very hot (although it's definitely on the high side of warm). The system fans, while audible at times, don't have that loud hurricane effect that some gaming systems do.

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