Falcon Northwest Talon (Intel Core i7 875-k) review: Falcon Northwest Talon (Intel Core i7 875-k)

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

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

Just Cause 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560 x 1,600 (8x AA, 16x AF)  
1,920 x 1,080 (8x AA, 16x AF)  
Origin Genesis (2x Radeon HD 5970)
Origin Genesis (Radeon HD 5970)

We have a different conclusion about the Talon's gaming performance. Here we can see even among PCs with similar application performance, graphics hardware can still make a dramatic impact, especially when you want to play games at higher resolutions. All but the Talon and the 13-month-old AVADirect system have two graphics cards. The Origin Genesis, in fact, has two dual-chip Radeon HD 5970 cards, giving it four GPUs in total.

We certainly wouldn't expect the $2,499 Talon to outperform any of those systems given its single GeForce GTX 480. You can take heart, however, knowing that except for the most demanding games at the highest image quality settings, the Talon should ably handle any current and near-future titles.

If you're hoping to add more gaming power to the Talon post-purchase you might think twice. It does indeed have a second graphics card slot, but because of the limitations of the P55 Express chipset, it will only support one 3D card at full 16x bandwidth. Add a second card and they'll become two 8x slots. You would still likely see a boost with a second GeForce GTX 480, but on the high-resolution games that would benefit most, you'd probably want more graphics bandwidth to justify the added 3D hardware expense.

For other upgrades, all of the RAM slots are full, but you can add three more hard drives, two 1x PCI Express card, and a single standard PCI card, although a second 3D card would limit the other slots. The motherboard has the added benefit of supporting SATA 3.0, which means it can take the latest, faster throughput hard drives, such as the Western Digital Caviar Black drive Falcon sent for the primary storage drive. We can't say we've seen a dramatic performance impact from SATA 3.0 yet, but the enthusiasts out there will appreciate it.

On the outside, the Asus P7P55D-E Pro motherboard offers up plenty of inputs and outputs, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports. On top of that you get eSATA and FireWire jacks, 7.1 analog audio, both coaxial and optical S/PDIF jacks, Ethernet, and a handful of USB 2.0 ports. The graphics card provides two DVI outputs as well as a mini-HDMI jack. DisplayPort might be nice, and full-sized HDMI would be more convenient, but we expect most of you will find the video outputs you get sufficient, and we can think of few other ports we'd like to see.

Juice box
Falcon Northwest Talon Average watts per hour
Off (watts) 2.39
Sleep (watts) 4.15
Idle (watts) 115.1
Load (watts) 416.47
Raw (annual kWh) 680.64324
Energy Star compliant No
Annual power consumption cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $77.25

Annual power consumption cost
Maingear Shift
Origin Genesis

Though the Talon's single graphics card might have kept it from the top of the 3D-performance standings, we suspect that it also propelled it to the lead of our power efficiency chart. "Efficient" is a relative term, of course, and with PCs out there that draw less than $10 worth of power annually, we can't exactly go handing out environmental consciousness badges to a PC for only drawing almost eight times that amount. Still, those dual-card systems have a significantly worse total cost of ownership than the Talon. You'll pay almost $14 a month in power bills to

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