Falcon Northwest Tiki Review: Small, Powerful and Stylish

The Falcon Northwest Tiki is back and more powerful than ever. The company didn’t hold back with our review sample’s configuration, cramming an overclocked and liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-8086K processor, 32GB of DDR4-3000 memory and an Nvidia Titan Xp graphics card into a small, custom-designed and painted aluminum chassis. Although this particular configuration is high priced, we enjoyed the craftsmanship, intelligent design and performance that Falcon Northwest put into the Tiki.

Specifications

Processor
Intel Core i7-8086K
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix Z370-I mini-ITX
Memory32GB (2 x 16GB) G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000
GraphicsNvidia Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X
Storage Options1.5TB Intel Optane 905p U.2 PCIe SSD
Optical DriveDVD-RW
NetworkingIntel I219V Gigabit Ethernet; Intel Wireless-AC 3168 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.2
InterfaceRear: (1) USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, (3) USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A, (4) USB 2.0, (1) S/PDIF
Top: (2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
Video OutputMotherboard: (1) DisplayPort 1.3, (1) HDMI 2.0
GPU: (3) DisplayPort 1.4, (1) HDMI 2.0
Power Supply650W Silverstone SFX
CaseTiki (Custom Designed)
CoolingAsetek Liquid Cooling 550LC 120mm AIO CPU Cooler
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Dimensions13.5 x 4.0 x 13.3 inches
OtherExotix Paintwork (+$375), RGB LED Light Strip (Free), CPU Overclock (Free)
Price As Configured$6,308.00

Exterior

The small form factor (SFF) Tiki chassis is both sturdy and stylish, with an aluminum body and matching  base measuring in at 13.5 x 4.0 x 13.3-inches. The case is adorned with Falcon Northwest’s Exotix paint work (in this case, Cloud Red), which adds a hefty $938 to the total bill.

However, this pricing is for the most sophisticated paintwork the company offers (Cloud is a special application, and it looks quite stunning), and single-color applications are available for $375; that  is cheaper than paint jobs from some other custom shops. The aesthetic value of a professionally applied finish is worth it for those looking to make their next gaming PC reflect their personal tastes, and Falcon Northwest’s best available paintwork is impressive, albeit expensive.

The left side panel sports a single 120mm vent and acts as the CPU cooler’s exhaust, dispersing the excessive heat of the overclocked CPU from the compact interior (more on that later). The panel also sports a small window on its upper edge that shows off the graphics card (in this case, a TItan Xp). The acrylic plastic window can be styled with a cutout (ours is the Nvidia logo), and  is bathed in RGB LED lighting from a strip inside the case.

The top panel has styled ventilation and the I/O consists of two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports and microphone and headphone jacks, in addition to illuminated power and reset buttons. Don’t be fooled by the reset button’s design - we hit it thinking it was some kind of cool audio feature (it looks like a pair of headphones), but no, it’s just a reset button.

The backside of the chassis sports the motherboard’s I/O, which consists of a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, three USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A and four USB 2.0 ports. There’s also an S/PDIF interface and surround audio jacks, in addition to HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.3 ports. However, you’ll want to connect your display(s) to the primary GPU’s outputs, which in this case are three DisplayPort 1.4 ports and an HDMI 2.0 port.

Interior

The inside of the Tiki is compact with little space for the powerful hardware under the hood. However, Falcon Northwest  crammed a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-8086K processor on an Asus ROG Strix Z370-I mini-ITX motherboard. Opening the right side (solid) panel, the 120mm AIO CPU cooler is mounted to the panel’s vent, exhausting the heat from the chassis. The cooler itself is of the Asetek variety (a 550LC), and its rubber tubing fits snugly around the pump mounts when you close the case back up thanks to some expert cable/tube management.

A 32GB (2 x 16GB) kit of G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000 sits in the motherboard's only two DIMM slots, giving this configuration the maximum available memory capacity for the Tiki’s available mainstream platforms (AMD X470 and Intel Z370). However, you can get up to 64GB of memory from a configuration equipped with an X299 mini-ITX motherboard with four SO-DIMM slots (the AsRock X299E-ITX/AC).

The Nvidia Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X graphics card is mounted in the opposite chamber by way of a riser card, and only the backplate is exposed in the main chamber. The opposite side panel (left side) exposes the blower-style fan intake with an etched acrylic window, which is illuminated by an RGB LED light strip mounted under the GPU.

The 1.5TB Intel 905p U.2 PCIe SSD is mounted to the crossbar of the interior chassis, and although the pricey storage offers a lot of capacity, some gamers may opt for a smaller, less expensive option in the Tiki configurator.  There’s no secondary storage for this particular configuration, but there’s room for one 3.5-inch or two 2.5-inch drives, in addition to two M.2 ports on the back of the motherboard (supports PCIe x4) and above the PCIe x16 slot (supports SATA and PCIe x4).

The Tiki’s 600W Silverstone SFX power supply sits under the case’s crossbar. The PSU’s intake fan is exposed to the right side panel’s vent, and the heat is exhausted through the case’s ventilated back panel. The 80 Plus Gold certified PSU matches the recommended wattage of the Titan Xp, and it can handle most any other graphics card currently on the market, including the Titan V and the upcoming GeForce RTX cards.

Software and Accessories

The Falcon Northwest Tiki doesn’t come with any bloatware or trial software, but the company set a few helpful shortcuts (including a link to customer service and a disc eject icon for the DVD-RW drive) on the desktop and installed Asus Aura to control the RGB LED strip. Aside from that, the Windows 10 Pro installation is clean.

The Tiki comes with an impressive welcome package - a Falcon Northwest branded coffee mug (that wouldn't be complete without company-branded coffee), mousepad and leather binder (with all the extra cables and component manuals) are neatly packed in a sleek box, and it's one little detail that we feel goes a long way (other custom shops are not as fancy with their "extras" packaging). We also snooped around the Tiki’s BIOS to see how the company overclocked the already speedy Core i7-8086K. To our delight, Falcon Northwest manually tweaked the core multipliers individually, setting the clockrate to 5.3GHz for single-core and 5.0GHz for dual-core operation.

The CPU will operate at 4.8GHz when engaging more than two cores on up to all six cores (and 12 threads). This is a savvy tweak, and it’s refreshing to see a custom shop fine tune its CPUs on a per-core basis. It’s especially exciting to know that Falcon Northwest overclocks the Tiki free of charge, which is almost unheard of in the custom shop space.

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