capsule review

Falcon Northwest Mach V

At a Glance
  • Falcon Northwest Mach V

    PCWorld Rating

    The Mach V packs in the latest technologies--including Intel's new Core i7 CPU--for the pinnacle of powerful PC performance.

Falcon Northwest's Mach V gaming desktop is a firecracker inside a beautiful aluminum chassis. While the Silverstone Temjin TJ03 full tower case itself is nothing new, the Mach V's internal setup represents the fastest PC we have ever tested on nearly every benchmark we could toss at this overclocked monstrosity.

The Mach V sports a spanking-new (Nehalem-based) Intel Core i7 965 Extreme processor that's been overclocked from 3.2 GHz to 3.8 GHz using only air cooling. Added to this is more RAM than we've ever seen in a desktop machine--a whopping 12GB of DDR3-1066 memory--along with an Intel 80GB solid state drive for booting and a 1-terabyte, 7200-rpm Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 hard drive for storage. Although it didn't factor into our rating or system rankings chart (we rated all the gaming PCs in our current roundup on performance alone, excluding bundled monitors or peripherals), Falcon will also throw in a high-quality 22-inch Samsung 2243 LCD for an additional $400 on top of the system's $7395 price (as of November 11, 2008).

Although that premium price places it among the most wallet-crippling systems we've reviewed, you definitely get amazing bang for your buck. The Mach V achieved a score of 163 in our WorldBench 6 test suite. That's the highest result we've ever seen, but one that's equaled by two other new gaming machines: Hardcore Computer's Reactor and Xi's MTower HAF-SLI. The Xi pushes the limit for overclocking by cranking an older 3.33-GHz Core 2 Duo E8600 to an eyeball-popping 4.5 GHz, while the Reactor completely submerges its components in nonconductive oil (including a 3.2-GHz QX9770 CPU overclocked to 4 GHz); stay tuned for full reviews.

Helped out by dual 2GB ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics cards in CrossFire mode, the Mach V beat the frame rates of these and other recent gaming PCs for all the games (and resolutions) we threw at it. It even produced a smooth-playing average of 145 frames per second (fps) in Unreal Tournament 3 (under high settings) at 2560 by 1600 resolution. Next best in that taxing test: the Hardcore Computer Reaktor, whose three overclocked nVidia GTX-280 boards (in tri-SLI mode) achieved 113 fps in the same test.

This particular Mach V configuration includes an LG Blu-ray burner/HD-DVD reader, in addition to a Lite-on DVD writer. For expandability, four external 5.25-inch drive bays are open for upgrades, as are four internal 3.5-inch hard-disk bays. Overall, The Mach V's internals are well put together, with all cables neatly grouped and concealed where possible.

The Mach V's Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard holds a good number of ports: eight USB, two Firewire 400, and one eSATA. You also get built-in 5.1-channel audio and two ethernet ports. The front of the case is a touch more anemic, hiding four USB ports and a single Firewire 400 port beneath a locking door. At least there's plenty of room to plug in the Mach V's Logitech G15 keyboard (included). We'd almost rather not plug in its companion mouse, as the Logitech G9's misplaced DPI buttons are hardly satisfying for the kinds of games you'll be playing on this sweet rig.

Though it's loaded to the gills with high-end components, note that key parts of this killer system can't be upgraded without a big purchase, which some may find frustrating. For one thing, it has no available PCI Express x16 slots, which means that adding a new video card will entail replacing the two ATI Radeon HD 4870 cards (top-of-the-line units) that come with the system.

The Mach V is a new King of Speed that crushes every benchmark we threw at it. And for its price, you'd expect nothing less from this ultrapowered gaming machine!

--David Murphy

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Mach V packs in the latest technologies--including Intel's new Core i7 CPU--for the pinnacle of powerful PC performance.

    Pros

    • Superior performance
    • Blu-ray burner

    Cons

    • Very expensive
    • Basic case design
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