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Looks can be deceiving. At first glance, you might mistake the Falcon Northwest Tiki ($4,514 as reviewed, $2,459 starting) for a business desktop. Its slim figure belies the powerful Intel Core i7-5960X processor and Nvidia GTX 980 Ti GPU that rest just beneath this PC's cool, aluminum chassis. But make no mistake: While the Tiki can sit comfortably in your entertainment center, it can also play some of the most demanding games on the market without a hiccup. It's definitely worth checking out — if you can get past its exorbitant price tag.
I dig the Tiki's austere look. Its slim stature is enigmatic yet compelling, like the iconic monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The falcon's head at the front keeps a watchful eye out for enemies and noobs alike. The desktop's black aluminum base flares out slightly, steadying the device and readying it for those marathon fragging sessions.
The side, top and rear panels are constructed from steel painted black, while the front is made of a silky-smooth black aluminum. You'll find two air vents made from small, honeycomb-shaped cutouts on the rig's left, and a signal vent on the right toward the panel's rear. Along the top, you'll find a series of smaller vents arranged in a way reminiscent of an Autobot decal.
The Tiki measures 16.4 x 14.1 x 4.4 inches, which is smaller than the 15.5 x 17.1 x 15.3-inch CyberPowerPC Fang Trinity Xtreme. However, at 22.6 and 47 pounds, respectively, both desktops are much heavier than the 12-pound, 13.5 x 12.5 x 3.7-inch Alienware x51 R3.
Graphics and Gaming: One powerful Tiki
For its relatively slim size, the Tiki punches above its weight class. That might have something to do with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti card with 6GB of video memory packed inside. I did the bulk of my testing on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at 2560 x 1440 on very high. Protagonist Big Boss moved smoothly at 38 frames per second (above the Tom's Guide 30 fps threshold), making his way toward a seemingly desolate village.
On the BioShock Infinite benchmark, the Tiki delivered 119 fps at 1080p on high. That's short of the 135 average, but better than the 73 fps showing by the Alienware X51 ($1,999 as tested, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 GPU). The CyberPowerPC Fang Trinity Xtreme ($2,139 as tested, Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan GPU) came out on top, with a score of 146 fps.
The Tiki had a better showing during our Metro: Last Light tests, hitting 124 fps at 1080p on high. That mark beat the Alienware x51 (28 fps) and the Fang Trinity (57 fps). When we up-scaled the game to 4K (3840 x 2160), the Tiki achieved 99 fps on low, which is just a frame above the 98-fps average and enough to defeat the Alienware X51's mark of 40 fps. The Tiki's showing was still a few frames shy of the Fang Trinity's 102 fps.
The Tiki is more than just a gaming powerhouse. Sporting a 3.5-GHz Intel Core i7-5960X processor with 16GB of RAM, the Tiki took everything our testers threw at it and then some. The desktop streamed an episode of The Awesomes from Hulu while effortlessly performing a system scan with Metal Gear Solid V playing in a separate window. The rig never broke stride, even after I opened 13 tabs in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
When tested for overall performance, the Tiki hit 30,446 on the synthetic Geekbench 3 test, destroying the 19,215 desktop average. Neither the Alienware x51, with its 4.2-GHz Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, or the Fang Trinity, with a 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7-5820K, were a match, at 16,625 and 19,615, respectively.
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the Tiki matched 20,000 names and addresses in 2 minutes and 57 seconds, beating the 3:35 average. The Fang Trinity notched 3:44, while the Alienware x51 clocked in at 3:06.
The Tiki comes with a gaggle of ports, despite its compact design. You'll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the top, alongside buttons for Power and Hibernate, a slot-loading DVD burner, and jacks for a microphone and a pair of headphones.
The peripheral fun really begins when you get to the rear of the Tiki, where you'll find two USB 3.1 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a single eSATA input. Audio heads have jacks for S/PDIF, audio-in, audio-out, rear speakers, a subwoofer and another mic, as well as two coaxial inputs. The Tiki covers the networking bases with both Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet. For Wi-Fi, you have an 802.11ac chip, providing fast Internet connection.
The Tiki comes with two coaxial switches for passing through a cable or antenna signal. Speaking of video, there are three DisplayPorts, as well as HDMI and DVI. There's even a PS/2 port for gamers who have older models of mice and keyboards.
Accessing the inner workings of the Tiki is a fairly straightforward process at first. Removing two large screws at the rear right of the rig lets you slide off the panel and check out the desktop's interior.
Falcon went the extra mile on our review model, adding a small aluminum plate engraved with "Tom's Guide" to the metal column protecting the GPU and motherboard. You'll need a screwdriver and a measure of patience to swap out parts.
The Falcon Northwest Tiki offers helpful gamer-centric software. Nvidia's GeForce Experience is on tap to offer streaming services, optimized graphics settings and battery boost — all in one, easy-to-use program. The desktop also has EVGA PrecisionX 16, which lets you adjust the fan and clock speed as well as the voltage.
I reviewed the $4,514 configuration of the Falcon Northwest Tiki, which has a 3.5-GHz Intel Core i7-5960X processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 SSD, a 6TB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
The base model of the desktop is priced at $2,459 and features a 3.6-GHz Intel Core i7-5820K, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 GPU with 2GB of VRAM.
Falcon Northwest covers the Tiki with a three-year parts-and labor warranty. Rigs from other companies typically ship with one-year warranties.
The Falcon Northwest Tiki ($4,514 as reviewed, $2,459 starting) delivers beefy performance befitting a machine twice this PC's size. The desktop's Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU and Intel i7 processor guarantee plenty of power — enough to play the most-demanding games in 4K. Best of all, the desktop won't take up too much space; you can even slide it into an entertainment center if you're so inclined.
However, you can get the CyberPowerPC Trinity Fang Xtreme (reviewed at $2,139, starting at $1,825) for significantly less. Yes, the Xtreme's showy desktop will demand more space than the Tiki, but you'll also have the benefit of a more powerful Nvidia Titan GPU. But the Falcon Northwest Tiki is the way to go for gamers in the market for a gaming PC with a small form factor and big power.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.