Falcon Northwest FragBox II review: Falcon Northwest FragBox II

Plenty of ports dot the back of the case, including an S/PDIF digital-audio connector and a DVI port. A FireWire port and two USB 2.0 ports sit conveniently up front. The excellent Logitech MX3100 wireless-keyboard and laser-mouse combo came included as well, although we'd submit that wireless mice aren't up-to-snuff for hard-core gaming just yet because of the faster transfer rate of a wired connection.

Except for a few game demos, the Falcon Northwest FragBox 2 comes with little in the way of preloaded software. In his company's defense, Falcon Northwest president Kelt Reeves told us, "We learned a long time ago the market for $3,000+ PCs is practically insulted by bundled shovelware." We would have liked to see at least a 90-day trial version of some virus software.

You get some very basic documentation with the FragBox 2, along with a standard one-year warranty with paid overnight postage to and from the company. The paid-postage is a considerate add-in, and you can upgrade your coverage to three years for $295, but Falcon offers no other warranty options and no onsite service. All but one of the $3,500-plus PCs we've looked at lately (namely, the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX) have skimped on warranty plans, and our criticism remains: considering the cost, you should get three years of coverage at no extra charge. Toll-free phone service is available from noon to 9 p.m. ET, seven days a week; however, Falcon's threadbare Web site offers little more than a FAQ.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  
Doom 3 1,024x768, 4XAA 8XAF  
Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  
Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF  
Polywell Poly 939n4 dual X2 (Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX, PCIe)
50.5 
100.9 
72.7 
78.8 
** CPU and graphics are overclocked

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System configurations
Dell XPS 600
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe, SLI); two Hitachi HDS725050KLA360 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce-4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)

Falcon Northwest FragBox 2
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; ATI Radeon RS480 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); two Seagate ST3160827AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Silicon SiI 3114 SoftRAID 5 controller (RAID 0)

Hypersonic Cyclone OCX Limited Edition
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 550MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe, SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Seagate ST3300831AS 300GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)

Polywell Poly 939n4 dual X2
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+; Nvidia Nforce-4 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)

Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; (2) 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one WDC WD250JD-00HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiL3114 SoftRAID 5 controller (RAID 0)