Falcon Northwest Tiki 2022 Review: Tiny gaming PC that kills

Falcon Northwest Tiki 2022 Review: Tiny gaming PC that kills

Falcon Northwest Tiki 2022 Review: Tiny gaming PC that kills
I remember sitting at the school lunch table with friends in the mid-90s, poring over glossy magazines PC gamer and the long dead PC acceleratoras well as the immense, phone book-like one computer buyer. Sure, you had your Dells and your Compaqs, and also your smaller vendors like ZEOS, Quantex, ALR, and the fledgling Alienware. But among PC gamers in the 1990s, none of those names held the same prestige as Falcon Northwest. Whether it was the machines’ high specifications, sleek design, or their unique, stylish advertising, Falcon Northwest has established itself as the Bugatti of the build-to-order computing world. Back then we all built our own machines because we were poor, but we all wanted the Falcon logo as a badge of status.

So I didn’t go into this review with a little reverence. A Falcon Northwest machine right here in our hot little hands. This isn’t Falcon Northwest’s first system HotHardware checked of course; it’s not even the first tiki. However, the last Tiki we tested was equipped with an Intel Haswell processor and a first-generation GeForce GTX Titan GPU. That was 2013. Haswell sure doesn’t feel like it did 9 years ago, does it?

Of course, this latest top-of-the-line 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. Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the full specs:

Falcon Northwest Tiki (2022): specifications and features

Falcon Northwest Tiki Specifications

The Tiki, of course, isn’t the fastest machine Falcon Northwest sells, but pay close attention to those dimensions. Indeed, this is a seriously slim little machine – about the size of a PlayStation 5, as this image of Falcon himself helpfully shows:

ps5 size comparison Falcon Northwest Tiki

Sure, the PS5 is huge for a gaming console, but this isn’t a gaming console – this is a full-fledged gaming PC, ready for Ultra HD gaming at high frame rates. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D is currently the world’s fastest gaming CPU, and the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is just a step behind the mighty GeForce RTX 3090. Falcon will even put a Radeon RX 6950 XT in this thing if you want.

If we had any complaints with the specs as supplied, it would be the relatively limited shelf life. A single 2TB SSD works surprisingly well for a gaming-only system, especially now that most people have switched to streaming media. Still, you can fill it up shockingly quickly with Steam downloads. If we had picked and bought this system ourselves, it would be our own fault – the Tiki can accommodate a second M.2 SSD, a pair of 8TB SATA SSDs, or a single 3.5″ Inch SATA HDD can be equipped with up to 14 TB capacity.

Inspection of the Falcon Northwest Tiki

front rear Falcon Northwest Tiki

The front of the Tiki is a solid aluminum panel with a cutout for an RGB LED Falcon Northwest logo. The front panel I/O is on top of the machine; we’ll get to that in a moment. Rear I/O is everything the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I motherboard and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card offers.

We have a bit of a nitpick here as there are actually quite a few USB ports. You get one USB 2.0 port, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, and then another USB Type-C port for audio output only. It feels wasteful to plug a keyboard or mouse into a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, but you’ll have to do that on this device unless you want to plug them into the front USB ports. We would have liked a second USB 2.0 port for input devices on the back. Still, most people don’t need mountains of USB, so ultimately it probably isn’t a problem. Even if you do, you could just plug in a hub.

Front Falcon Northwest Tiki

A pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) ports, a 10Gbps USB Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack comprise the front panel ports. This is a perfectly acceptable faceplate configuration that is commonly found on many DIY cases. Perhaps we would have liked to see another USB port or a card reader, but this is a slot through and through. Most gamers probably won’t use such customizations, and they would further complicate the wiring inside the device.

fall inner hawk north west tiki

To open the side of the case, simply loosen two knurled screws on the back and lift off the case. Getting into the Tiki couldn’t be easier, although closing it can present a significant challenge, largely due to the Asetek liquid cooler. This reviewer prefers air coolers and checked with Falcon Northwest if such an option was available, but there was none. That’s a shame because reattaching the side of the tiki with those hoses getting in the way with such tight quarters can be nerve wracking.

As you would expect from a machine barely 4 inches wide, the Tiki is tight inside, but not extreme. Over on the left you can see the Falcon Northwest emblem with the system’s serial number and owner’s name on it – “Hot Hardware,” in this case. Each Falcon Northwest machine is custom built and personalized for the buyer. Below that Label is the bracket that would hold a single 3.5″ hard drive or a pair of 2.5″ SSDs. You could even install them yourself, although we’re not sure where the SATA power cables are in our build have landed.

Another nitpick we have with the Tiki is the lack of filtering on the system intakes. There are no two options – any dirt or dust that gets near the case goes straight into the case, especially when the system is loaded and the fans are running.

Falcon Tiki airflow

We asked Falcon about it and they replied that there simply isn’t room in the case for filters, or at least none that are easy to clean. Ultimately, that same openness in the case makes it easy to slip an air can nozzle through the gaps and blow out the fans, so keep an eye on things when picking one of these tiny titans. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it could be a nuisance if you have a dusty house or lose pets.

In terms of user upgrades, Falcon Northwest will support and warrant the system “until it has been modified beyond the point at which it was modified [Falcon] would be able to support it.” The company tells us that this generally means replacing the motherboard. The company also tells us that most user upgrades are next-power-hungry graphics card upgrades.

As with any Falcon Northwest system, the Tiki is built entirely from off-the-shelf components aside from its chassis, so there really isn’t much to say here other than “good job”.

Let’s get into how the machine runs, shall we?

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