A mighty beast in a tiny frame
It’s no secret that buying a custom-built system from a professional PC builder comes with a premium price. Normally, we are staunch advocates of building your own PC, but it’s worth considering a custom builder for small form factor systems. The Falcon Northwest Tiki is a perfect example.
Measuring just 13.75 x 14.5 x 5 inches, including the base, the Tiki’s shiny bespoke chassis takes up a minimal amount of desk real estate, giving you reason to display its edges, rather than hide it away under your desk. But assembling parts inside such a small space can be quite the hassle, especially when you want to cram a full desktop’s worth of power inside.
Removing the Tiki’s side panel feels a little like peering into a desktop-class laptop, where every component has its proper place, and not a bit of space goes to waste. This allows for an Asus Z-series Mini-ITX motherboard to host an Intel Core i7-6700K and 16GB of RAM-fairly standard fare—as well as a full-size Nvidia Titan X, connected via a PCIe flexible ribbon in order to sit parallel to the mobo. Top that off with a 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2SSD, combined with a 4TB Western Digital Red HDD, and you can see that the Tiki packs a lot of power into its rather svelte frame.
The Tiki’s crowning component is obviously the top-end Titan X. Nvidia’s Pascal architecture brought outstanding performance to its whole slate of current- gen graphics cards, and the Titan X sits at the top of that pile. In our 1080p testing, the Titan X’s 12GB of VRAM proved more than enough for exceptional frame rates, pulling in around 120fps for Far Cry Primal and The Division, and an average of 158fps across Rise of the Tomb Raider’s three- part GPU benchmark.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
Interestingly, these numbers show that a single Titan X performs both better and worse, depending on the game, than a pair of GTX 1080s—such as the configuration found in the full-tower Digital Storm Aventum 3 that we reviewed way back in our September 2016 issue. There isn’t much price difference between the two configurations, and for larger systems, we’d say that dual-1080 is likely the better option. But, for the Tiki’s small form factor, it’s nice to see that the single, more powerful card can hold its own.
The Tiki also performs admirably at higher resolutions. The Tiki’s Titan X managed a fairly stable 46fps for The Witcher 3 in 4K with max settings. While not quite the gaming ideal of 60fps, Geralt looked absolutely stunning in 4K, and our test monitor’s G-Sync kept everything smooth. Rise of the Tomb Raider landed at 97fps in 1440p and 50fps in 4K, while 3DMark’s 1440p and 4K tests, Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra, returned scores of 11,526 and 6,296, respectively.
On the computational side, the Tiki lagged slightly behind in tests such as Cinebench R15, Tech ARP x264, and PCMark 8 Creative, compared to builds outfitted with the enthusiast-level Core i7-I6950X. Having said that, its Core i7-6700K is certainly no slouch, and is more than powerful enough for any task you choose to throw at it.
As configured, the Tiki we tested was knocking on the door of $4,000—a hefty price tag, but not unreasonable considering the power contained within its small frame. Falcon Northwest’s build quality is top tier, I and while there isn’t much room inside the Tiki’s frame for upgrades down the road, the power it ships with should last for a long, long time. -BO MOORE
Graphics Nvidia Titan X Pascal
RAM 16GB (2x 8GB) G.Skill Ripjaws4 2,400MT/s DDR4
Motherboard Asus Z170i Pro Gaming
Primary Storage 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Additional Storage 4TB Western Digital 7,200rpm Red
Cooling Solution Asetek 550LC 120mm
PSU Silverstone SFX 450W
Case Custom Tiki chassis
Warranty Three years
- Compact; powerful; beautiful design.
- Heavy; expensive; RAM is lacking; limited upgrade potential.