CNET First Look
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Intel Core i7 980X Extreme)Falcon Northwest's Mach V set records in our lab thanks to an overclocked six-core CPU from Intel. An unfortunate problem with the graphics card resulted in physical damage to the inside of this PC, however. Assuming Falcon addresses the problem likes...
>> Rich Brown: Hi I'm Rich Brown Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today we're gonna take a look at the Falcon Northwest Mach 5. We've seen this case a couple of times before. It's Falcon Northwest's typical high end Mach 5 box. It's very polished. It comes with falcons you know traditional build quality, attention to detail and it more or less has everything we'd expect on a high end gaming PC. This particular config is notable because it comes with Intel's brand new 6 core Core I7980X extreme chip and of course Falcon over clocked it, standard setting is 3.3 gigahertz. This one goes up to almost 4.2 gigs. So needless to say this Falcon is a super super fast desktop. It was first on every single one of our standard application benchmarks so for any day to day task and high end media editing and multi tasking. This is definitely the kind of system that you're gonna want to look into. If we try to keep the price reasonable though so this is a $4,999 PC and in gaming PCs that is actually reasonable considering the parts inside and because that only has 1 graphics card it's a dual chip Radeon HD 5970 card. You can see its very clean, typical Falcon style. Front panel door opens up you can see there's a Blu-ray burner here, media card reader here, and there's a small panel on the bottom, there's a couple of USB ports as well as a fire wire input. >> There's some new things going on in the back of the PC. It sees the graphics card down here, it's got 2 DVI ports as well as a MIDI display port, that's what ATI is pretty much going to these days. Now we're starting to see a few monitors with display port inputs but if you want HDMI you'll have to get an adaptor. So from the top down we've got old school PS2 mouse and keyboard. We've got a [inaudible] out as well as coaxial digital audio; we've got a few USB ports. We've got fire wire as well as mini fire wire and ESATA of course. Now down here there's Ethernet as well as 7.1 audio, but up here you can see these 2 ports outlined in blue, those are actually USB 3.0 ports. So this is the first system we've seen with USB 3 input. So as you might have guessed USB is faster than USB 2. There aren't very many products out there that are USB 3 specific, you can maybe a few memory keys or external hard drives but it definitely has not come yet. Now inside the case you can see Falcons typical clean design. All the cables are bound and wrapped up. It's really easy to make upgrades. You can see on the panel here and here there's sound dampening foam that keeps things quiet. So you can see the CPU here it's got the water cooler unit on it, it routes up here to the top of the fans. You can see all 6 memory slots are taken on this X58 motherboard, so that means there's 12 gigs of RAM in this PC. You can see a solid state hard drive here for the OS as well as a 1 TB drive here for data storage. Now as you notice we have the graphics card in one of the lower PCI express slots, that's because if you see here the upper PCI express slot is actually broken. The problem with that was that the graphics card was too heavy so that in shipping if it gets rough treatment along the way, even with the best packaging, and Falcon's is actually pretty good, a really heavy card can become dislodged or in extreme situations actually damage the motherboard. Now we were able to get this card working by plugging it into a second PCI express slot, so functionally speaking the system is actually fine, but clearly if you paid $5000 for a PC like this, this is unacceptable so we talked with Falcon Northwest and for this card in particular which is very heavy what they're gonna do is they're working with AMD to add a bracket onto the card and they're gonna change the manufacturing their cases onto a tape deck bracket. In the meantime though if you're gonna order this card from any vendor that doesn't use a bracket to hold it in place you're definitely running a risk in shipping and we don't think it will happen with every card because we've seen some systems with this same card come in that were perfectly fine. So except for the graphics card issue this is a very well built PC. It's also very fast. Like we said it set records in our lab. If you're going to look into a high end gaming PC or even a high end performance system, we would definitely look into this especially with the overc locked PC. That said we might wait a little bit until Falcon has the bracket issue sorted out before we order one with that exact graphics card and that's actually a reservation we'd have about any vendor shipping the Radeon HD 5970. [ Background music ] So I'm Rich Brown this is the Falcon Northwest Mark 5.