Falcon Northwest Tiki 2022 Review: Tiny Gaming PC That Slays
Falcon Northwest Tiki (2022) Gaming PC: A Tiny Tower of Titanic Gaming Power
Back in the mid-90s, I recall sitting around with friends at the school lunch table poring over glossy magazines like PC Gamer and the long-defunct PC Accelerator, as well as the immense, phone-book-like Computer Shopper. Sure, you had your Dells, and your Compaqs, and your smaller vendors too, like ZEOS, Quantex, ALR, and the fledgling Alienware. Yet among PC gamers in the 1990s, none of those names held quite the same prestige as Falcon Northwest. Whether it was the high specs of the machines, sleek designs, or their unique, classy advertising, Falcon Northwest established itself as the Bugatti of the build-to-order computer world. Back then, we all built our own machines because we were poor, but we all wanted that Falcon logo as a badge of status.
As such, it's not with a small amount of reverence that I went into this review. A Falcon Northwest machine, right here in our hot little hands. This isn't the first Falcon Northwest system that HotHardware has reviewed, of course; it's not even the first Tiki. However, the last Tiki that we reviewed was equipped with an Intel Haswell processor and a first-generation GeForce GTX Titan GPU. That was back in 2013. Haswell sure doesn't feel like 9 years ago, does it?
Naturally, this latest leading-edge Tiki is brand-new and bursting at the seams with powerful, up-to-date hardware, like AMD's 3D V-Cache equipped Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Let's take a look at the full specifications before we dive in:
Falcon Northwest Tiki (2022): Specifications & Features
The Tiki isn't the fastest machine that Falcon Northwest sells, of course, but pay special attention to those dimensions. Indeed, this is a seriously trim little machine—about the same size as a PlayStation 5, as helpfully demonstrated by this image from Falcon itself:
Sure, the PS5 is huge for a game console, but this is no game console—this is a full-fledged gaming PC ready for Ultra HD gaming at high frame-rates. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is the fastest gaming CPU in the world right now, and the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is just one step behind the massive GeForce RTX 3090. Falcon will even put a Radeon RX 6950 XT into this thing too, if you want.
If we have any complaints with the specifications as shipped, it would be the relatively limited storage. A single 2TB SSD serves surprisingly well for a pure game system, particularly now that most folks have moved to streaming media. Still, you can fill it up shockingly fast with Steam downloads. If we had selected and purchased this system ourselves, then that circumstance would be our own fault—the Tiki can be equipped with a second M.2 SSD as well as a pair of 8TB SATA SSDs or a single 3.5" SATA HDD with up to 14TB of capacity.
Inspecting The Falcon Northwest Tiki
The front of the Tiki is a solid plate of aluminum with a cutout for an RGB LED Falcon Northwest logo. The front panel I/O is up on the top of the machine; we'll get to that in a moment. The back panel I/O is all that is offered by the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I motherboard and the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card.
We do have a small nitpick here, in that there's actually rather few USB ports. You get one USB 2.0 port, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, and then another USB Type-C port exclusively for audio output. It feels wasteful to plug in a keyboard or mouse to a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, but you'll have to do that on this machine unless you want to hook them into the front panel USB ports. We would really have liked to see a second USB 2.0 port on the back for input devices. Still, most folks don't need piles of USB, so ultimately it's not likely to be a problem. Even if you do, you could just hook up a hub.
A pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports (5 Gbps), a 10-Gbps USB Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack comprise the front panel connections. This is a completely acceptable front panel configuration, commonly seen on lots of DIY cases. We might have liked to have seen another USB port or a card reader, but this is a gaming machine through and through. Most gamers probably won't make use of such accommodations, and they'd make the wiring inside the machine even more complicated.
Opening up the side of the case simply requires undoing two thumbscrews in the back and lifting it off. Getting into the Tiki couldn't be easier, although getting it closed can be a considerable challenge mostly due to the Asetek liquid cooler. This reviewer prefers air coolers, and inquired with Falcon Northwest as to whether such an option was available, but there was not. That's a shame, because reattaching the side of the Tiki with those hoses in the way with such tight quarters can be nerve wracking.
As you'd expect for a machine barely 4" wide, the Tiki is cramped inside, but not extremely so. Over on the left, you can see the Falcon Northwest badge with the system serial number and the owner's name on it—"Hot Hardware", in this case. Every Falcon Northwest machine is custom-built and personalized for the purchaser. Underneath that label is the bracket that would hold a single 3.5" HDD or a pair of 2.5" SSDs. You could install them yourself, even, although we're not sure where the SATA power cables ended up in our build.
Another nitpick that we have about the Tiki is the lack of filtering on the system intakes. There's no two ways about it—any debris or dust that gets near the case is going right inside, especially if the system is loaded and the fans are going.
We asked Falcon about this, and they replied that there simply wasn't room in the chassis for filters, or at least not ones that could be cleaned easily. Ultimately the very same open-ness in the chassis makes it easy to slip the nozzle of a can of air through the gaps and blow out the fans, so keep an eye on things should you opt for one of these tiny titans. It's not a deal-breaker, but it could be an annoyance if you have a dusty house or shedding pets.
As far as user upgrades go, Falcon Northwest will support and warranty the system "until it has been modified past the point where [Falcon] would be capable of supporting it." The company tells us that that generally means replacing the motherboard. The company also tells us that most user upgrades are graphics card upgrades. The 1000-watt power supply in this machine should certainly serve, even for the next power-thirsty generation.
As with every Falcon Northwest system, the Tiki is built entirely from off-the-shelf components aside from its chassis, so there's really not much else to say here aside from "good job."
Let's get into how the machine runs, shall we?