Phenomenal cosmic power, small living space

Phenomenal cosmic power, small living space

“Phenomenal cosmic power… tiny living space.” ~ The Genie, Aladdin. . . possibly describing the Falcon Northwest Tiki gaming PC.

The Falcon Northwest Tiki is hands down the best gaming PC I’ve ever been lucky enough to test. It is a small miracle, literally.

The small form factor gaming PC is dwarfed by my own DIY rigs, and yet it packs more power and runs faster than my last custom build. It is nothing short of remarkable.

As you can see from the image below above, the Tiki is about the same size as a PlayStation 5, but packs a lot more horsepower. Unlike the PS5, it’s also surprisingly heavy. If it wasn’t so short, I’m pretty sure you could use it to lock a door.

The tiny chassis, packed to the brim with high-end components, on the weighted base makes the Tiki as solid as it is powerful, and yet you can sit it comfortably on your desk and not lose much space. And it looks great.

Falcon Northwest engineers and designers can explain in detail how they pack so much power into such a small package. Can you explain how it stays so remarkably cool and quiet (in both water-cooled and air-cooled versions). They can explain this until their faces turn blue and I still won’t really understand. I am convinced that there is some magic at work.

Most gaming PCs fall into several different categories:

  • Flashy machines with neon lights that are really trying to get your attention;
  • Huge monstrosities you can practically crawl into when you add a new drive or change the power supply;
  • Basic inexpensive machines that get the job done.

The Tiki occupies its own unique space in the gaming world. There are other small form factor gaming PC options out there, but none of them are quite as elegant. This is the Bentley Continental GT of gaming PCs: an expensive and attractive boutique PC that understands the mystery of cool: it has to look natural.

Speaking of awesome, there are Tiki setups that use air and liquid cooling to cool these machines. My unit, equipped with an Intel i7-12700k CPU and Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti graphics card, is liquid cooled. Many of AMD’s options will also come with liquid cooling (as you can imagine, liquid cooling units are also extremely small but incredibly effective!)

Recently, however, Falcon Northwest began offering Intel’s new i9-12900 (which, unlike the i9-12900k, cannot be overclocked). The i9-12900 performs so well that it only requires air cooling, even in such a small case. In fact, according to internal Falcon Northwest testing, in a three-hour “synthetic torture test” of both machines, the i9-12900 reached just 72°C with air cooling, while the i7-12700k reached 96°C. C with water cooling. That is exceptional.

My loan unit is jet black. Its only ornamentation is the illuminated falcon logo on the front, its colors slowly changing from green to blue to purple to pink. This is not a shameless PC, by any means.

When Steve Jobs designed the first Apple computer, he was inspired by the Porsche 928. I see very few non-Apple PCs that look like they were designed with luxury sports cars in mind, but that’s the vibe I get from Tiki, even though it’s more edge hard than rounded slopes. More muscle.

The big difference, of course, is that your Tiki will shred any game you throw at it and stay remarkably cool and quiet in the process. It’s so quiet, cool and elegant that you almost forget it’s there. Of course, he cannot forget that he is there, as he will want him in his sight at all times. This isn’t a PC you unceremoniously hide under a desk.

The specs on my test unit are very impressive (although you configure yours in many different ways):

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-12700k — 5.0 GHz — 12 cores — LGA 1700
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 TI — 12 GB — Founders Edition
  • RAM: G-Skill Trident Z5 — 32GB — 5600MHz — DDR5
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Wi-Fi
  • Storage: SSD M.2 Firecuda 520 — 2TB
  • Power supply: Silverstone SX 800W SFX-L Titanium
  • operating system: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro: 64-bit

The unit measures 13.6 x 13 x 4 inches (compared to the PlayStation 5’s 15.4 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches). Like I said, it really is small!

So how is it done?

Smooth as butter.

The Tiki executed everything I threw at it without breaking a sweat, easily maintaining a crisp 60 frames per second (and often much top) on my ultrawide 3440×1440 monitor. God of War, Cyberpunk 2077, Warzone, Dying Light 2, Elden Ring, Resident Evil Village, Red Dead Redemption 2 everything worked perfectly.

Instead of tedious benchmarks (we all know how each of these components work, and can look up comparisons to countless other similar components), I’ll just point out that my Tiki never missed a beat, never overheated even after hours of gaming, and never had problems with any of these games.

I faced no bottlenecks, no performance issues, and no crashes. Sometimes you could feel hot air coming out of it, but that’s the idea behind PC cooling. You want warm air to flow out, keeping the interior nice and icy.

There are downsides, of course. There always are, especially when you’re doing a size swap. While it’s nice to have such a compact gaming PC on my desk that it doesn’t take up too much space, it means that upgrades, while not impossible, will be much more limited than in an ATX tower with plenty of room to work with. Such are the limitations of the form factor.

There are only two memory slots, so if I wanted to upgrade the RAM, I’d have to replace the two 16GB drives I have with two 32GB drives, which is obviously more expensive (although Falcon Northwest now offers 32GB configurations). GB x2 so you can start with 64 GB). There’s room inside to add two more SSDs so you can pack a lot more storage. 2TB of ultra-fast M.2 SSD storage is great, but it’s easy to fill it up with games and other files.

So yes, trade in upgradeability for a smaller form factor. You also pay a premium, with Tikis starting in the $3,000 – $4,000 range but easily exceeding thousands more depending on the options you select. My test unit, compatible with the new Intel i9-12900 and air cooling, will set you back around $5,300. A quality boutique, luxury gaming PC is expensive, but you pay for what you get.

And isn’t that the point?

If you’re playing on a Falcon Northwest machine, you have the disposable income to pay for the best of the best with no strings attached. Spare no expense.

I have to agree with my colleague Jason Evangelho’s review of Tiki from 2013: This is the perfect PC. It is much better in 2022.

If you want a PC that’s stylish but not flashy, takes up little space but makes a big impression, you can’t beat the Falcon Northwest Tiki.

Rating: 5/5

configure yours on the Falcon Northwest home page, where you can choose from CPU and GPU options, custom outdoor UV prints, and much more.

A loaner unit was provided for the purposes of this review. I used this unit for two months, playing games, rendering video, and doing daily computing to get a full picture of how the machine performs over time. It ran smoothly for every app and stayed cool and quiet the entire time. And it looks good sitting next to my ASUS Ultra-Wide monitor.

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