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Falcon Northwest Mach V (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700) review: Falcon Northwest Mach V (Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700)

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The Good Fastest gaming PC we've ever seen; somewhat less expensive than the competition; quiet; pristine interior.

The Bad The overclocking might be a little too aggressive; digital media archivists will want more storage space; Blu-ray costs extra.

The Bottom Line Falcon Northwest continues its tradition of building the fastest gaming PCs around. This one comes with Intel's quad-core chip clocked higher than we've ever seen before, and its resulting game performance sets new records. You might want to bolster some of the features on this system, but if it's 3D power you're after, Falcon delivers the strongest system we've seen so far.

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8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 8

Of the next-generation game systems we've seen recently, none has performed as well on our game tests as Falcon Northwest's Mach V. Similar PCs are by no means slow, but if your goal is showing off frame rates, Falcon Northwest turned in the fastest scores. Like its competition, the Mach V's prohibitive price tag ($6,800) cuts off all but the most serious gamers. Those that can spring for it can feel comfortable in the knowledge that this is one of the fastest PCs available today. With only 300GB of storage and no HD optical drives, this system definitely has room for more features, but as a pure bragging-rights gaming PC, we've seen none faster.

One of many superfast PCs
Falcon Northwest's latest Mach V compares well against systems we've seen recently from Dell, Velocity Micro, and Widow PC. All feature an Intel Core 2 Exteme QX6700 quad-core CPU and two Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX 3D graphics cards. That makes all of these systems complete gaming overkill. We dare you to find a resolution or an image quality setting in a current gen-game that any of these systems can't handle. Still, when you get to spending between $5,500 and $7,500 on a PC, the little things tend to mean much more. This is why we have to give Falcon Northwest credit for its overclocking.

All of the systems listed above came with the processor overclocked from 2.66GHz to either 3.2GHz or 3.34GHz, in the case of the Widow PC. The Mach V beats them all with its 3.73GHz setting. Falcon Northwest claims that only its own custom-designed liquid-cooling hardware is efficient enough to allow it to warranty a system overclocked that much. For its game performance, we saw that extra clock speed pay big dividends. It also lets us illustrate pretty well that overall performance isn't simply about raw clock speed.

Quake 4 performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
1,600x1,200 (4x AA, 8xAF)  
1,280x1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Widow PC IX2 SLI
Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition
Dell XPS 710 H2C
Alienware Area-51 7500

F.E.A.R. performance (fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
1,600x1,200 (4x AA, 8xAF)  
1,280x1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Velocity Micro Raptor Signature Edition
Widow PC IX2 SLI
Dell XPS 710 H2C
Alienware Area-51 7500

Here's what we like best about the Mach V's scores on Quake 4. Like the Widow PC, as the resolution goes up, the frame rate stays relatively the same. That means that this system is not even close to being overwhelmed at 2,048x1,536, one of the highest resolutions out there. The more demanding F.E.A.R. taxes the Mach V a bit more as we dial up the number of pixels on display, but this system still edges out the competition by a measurable margin at the higher settings. None of these systems is slow, and all will deliver smooth frame rates in current games. But if we use these results as a predictor of performance on next-gen titles, the Falcon Northwest Mach V shows the most promise for longevity.

Multitasking test (simultaneous McAfee AntiVirus scan, DivX 6.1 video encode, CAB file extraction)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Note: Note: iTunes for Windows version; iTunes for Mac version 7.0.1

CineBench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

On our tests of regular application performance, you'll see mostly the same story as you did with the game performance, with one exception. Again, this is rarefied air we're in with these PCs, so none of them could be considered slow. On CineBench and Photoshop, tests where clock speed matters most, the Falcon Northwest wins outright. It also comes very close to toppling the reigning iTunes champ, the Apple Mac Pro, which has a distinct home court advantage. For all of its fancy overclocking, though, the Falcon Northwest still can't overtake the Velocity Micro's multitasking score. That's because Velocity Micro has a dedicated RAID card, which speeds data access. The benefits of that add-on aren't available on the Mach V, as Falcon Northwest doesn't offer the RAID card as an option. Gamers won't care, but if you're a professional shopping for a high-end PC and you do a lot of task switching, you might.

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