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GCN : February 2013
GCN FEBRUARY 2013 • GCN.COM 13 REVIEW Until 2011 the highest mark the GCN Lab had ever given to a workstation computer was a 2,200 on the Pass- mark performance benchmarks. Last July that record was shattered by Ori- gin Systems' Genesis Pro workstation with a score of 5,618. Enter the Tiki from Falcon North- west, a desktop PC for sure, yet quite powerful, scoring 5,646 on the Pass- mark benchmarks, making it the lab's new speed king. The Tiki is tiny, just four inches wide by 13 inches high. Our test unit had the optional granite slab bolted at bot- tom to prevent tipping and doubling its weight to six pounds. Falcon Northwest packs so much power into the Tiki by saving space with a top-mounted disk drive slot, similar to the setup on some gaming consoles. There is no drive door. A disk slipped into the DVD-writer gets pulled in automatically and is ejected by software. It has a network port as well as inte- grated wireless, much like a laptop. So in tight spaces, it needs only a power connection, and it can grab the local wireless link to go online or to connect to a corporate network. This is the rst time we've experienced a desktop PC with wireless (Apple iMacs have had wireless capability for years), and it makes setting up the Tiki literally plug and play. The specs are impressive, too. Its heart is an Intel Core i7 3770K pro- cessor running at 3.5 GHz. But the processor can be over-clocked using Tiki software to perform even faster. Somehow, Falcon Northwest managed to hide a water-cooling system inside the case, which makes over-clocking possible. Memory is provided by two 8G sticks of 1,866-MHz DDR3 from Elite Semiconductor, for a total of 16G. For graphics, our test unit had an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 processor, which was more than enough for any graphi- cally intensive application. There are cheaper options for video, but given that the overall unit as con gured for our testing was only $3,473 prior to any government discounts, there's no reason to skimp in the graphics department. ADD FEATURES OR ANY APPLICATION Companies like Falcon Northwest make their bread and butter in the gaming industry, where performance is ev- erything. That knowledge serves the company well as it branches out into systems for business and government. A perfect example is how Tiki hard drives are handled. First, there is the 512G solid-state main drive, where the Windows 8 operating system lives along with the other most often-accessed drivers. Its access times are almost as fast as when pulling something out of memo- ry, according to the Passmark perfor- mance testing. And the 512G means users can add features as well or any application that needs as big a speed boost as possible. Most data and programs, however, will use the secondary storage disk, which is fast but limited because it's a more traditional magnetic media-type drive with moving parts. The storage drive is a Western Digital Caviar Green model, offering 3 terabytes of space for data in an environmentally friendly setup that uses about 40 percent less power than most drives of similar size. Users who really want to squeeze even more performance from a Tiki can install main programs on the sys- tem drive and set up the data to reside on the storage drive, although at these speeds, it's doubtful they would notice much of a difference. We were able to open a 300M Photoshop le, along with the program itself -- both were sitting on the storage drive at the time -- in under three seconds. We were also impressed with its quietness. The onboard cooling con- trols cycle down or turn up the main fan when needed. The cooling system is almost silent, and the fan runs fast only intermittently. Often the only indication that the Tiki was on was when the Falcon emblem on the front was lit. • How can a PC so small be so powerful and quiet? BY JOHN BREEDEN II FALCON NORTHWEST Small, yet powerful, Falcon Northwest's Tiki saves space and power with a top- mounted disk drive and an environmentally friendly setup.