FALCON NORTHWEST TIKI
Bow down to this awesome totem of power
FALCON NORTHWEST (henceforth Falcon) knows a thing or two about building extremely high-end custom PCs. It’s been doing that for 26 years now, and while you can certainly pick up a super-sized Mach V with all the trimmings, for us the Tiki is where it’s at. It measures just 4 x 13.5 x 13.25 inches, and uses a Mini-ITX Asus motherboard, with a custom chassis that you can’t buy anywhere else in the world. The small size is great, but seeing just how much power gets packed inside is what will really turn heads.
Starting at the top, there’s the CPU. Falcon sent this rig in with a Core i7-8700K overclocked to 5.0GHz—no mean feat, though we did see some slight throttling to 4.9GHz in a few CPU-intensive workloads. If you’d like something with beefier core counts, Ryzen 7 is another option, or you can go whole hog with up to an 18-core i9-7980XE, or step down to a slightly less insane 12-core i9-7920X. Falcon doesn’t generally recommend overclocking the Skylake-X parts in the Tiki, however, because the power draw can be quite high. But if you really want it, Falcon can work to make it, though you still won’t come close to the 5.0GHz clocks of the 8700K.
The real star of the show for this Tiki isn’t the CPU, though, it’s the hot new Nvidia Titan V, decked out in gold, just in case you wasn’t aware that this is a $3,000 graphics card, of course. Nominally, the GPU is for entry-level machine learning and AI research, but it’s also the first Voltabased card that you can put in a standard desktop. With 5,280 CUDA cores, plus 12GB of HBM2 memory, it’s easily the fastest graphics card around right now. Yet not at all practical—but then, with its slick custom paint jobs, Falcon is hardly known for practicality.
The Titan V is crazy fast, beating a 1080 Ti by 13 percent on average across an extensive gaming suite at 4K maximum quality. But that’s running at stock, and Falcon will overclock your graphics card as well. The GV100 at stock often hovers at close to its base 1.2GHz clock speed, thanks to power and thermal limits. Increase the power budget and fan speeds, though, and tack on a 100MHz GPU core overclock, and you’ll see speeds closer to 1.6GHz (with short-lived peaks as high as 1.9GHz—it seems the GPU can’t sustain those clocks without drawing too much power, however).
The HBM2 also managed a healthy overclock of 200MHz, which might not seem like much—until you realize the base clock is only 850MHz. That’s a 24 percent overclock on the memory, with a 25–33 percent overclock on the GPU core, and the result is gaming performance that’s on average 25 percent higher than stock.
If you want to do some AI research, Nvidia’s benchmarks show the Titan V outperforming the Titan Xp by a whopping 154 percent in Resnet-50 training, a deep learning image recognition suite. That’s thanks to the Tensor cores, which can crank out an impressive 110 Tflops (stock) of FP16 calculations—it makes the 25 Tflops of FP32 performance on the Titan Xp look tame by comparison.
The A-list of hardware doesn’t stop with the CPU and GPU, however. For storage duties, Falcon equipped the Tiki with not one but two Samsung 960 Pro 2TB M.2 SSDs, running in RAID 0. The drives are so fast that the DMI 3.0 interface with the chipset becomes a bottleneck on the Z370 motherboard, but with over 3,000MB/s of sustained reads and writes, we don’t think anyone will be complaining.
The Tiki is the fastest PC we’ve seen in a while, for gaming and other purposes. It runs quiet, thanks to liquid cooling on the CPU, which is particularly impressive, considering the compact size of the case. It’s also one of the most expensive desktops we’ve ever used, but sometimes you have to pay to play. Falcon can put together a far more reasonably priced build, however, with the base Tiki starting at less than $2,500, and that still includes an overclocked six-core i5-8600K, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB M.2 SSD.