FAL­CON NORTH­WEST TIKI

Bow down to this awe­some totem of power

Maximum PC - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

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.

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