Falcon Northwest, the first true boutique integrator, is back in the [H] Consumer office. Our past experiences with Falcon have been controversial, to say the least, so we’re excited to take another look at Falcon to see if it has what it takes to make a solid gaming machine.
As many of you might know by now, HardOCP doesn’t "review" systems, we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on how fast it ran a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
We’ve had one go with Falcon Northwest (FNW) in the early days of our system evaluation program. We were very excited to be looking at one of its systems since it is one of the most respected and best-established custom integrators in the entire PC landscape. We were left a bit disappointed when the system was plagued with instability problems.
We pulled the plug on the evaluation early instead of letting FNW fix its problems. The right thing to do in this situation was probably to RMA the system so that we could give Falcon the chance to make everything right. However, we didn’t do this. This left everybody unhappy including Falcon’s president, Kelt Reeves, who responded on the Falcon Fan Page. (The text of his reply can be found under Archives, under the title “Reviewing the Review: The HardOCP FragBox Evaluation” – dated 11/5/05.)
We learned from that experience and now full system RMAs are avenues sometimes explored in our articles if appropriate.
The next episode with Falcon was also a bit controversial. We evaluated a Falcon Mach V, which looked and performed better than any other system we’d had in the office up to that point. Unfortunately, there was a very real concern that our purchase had been monitored from the beginning and that we had received a “review” system not representative of what a consumer would receive. Unfortunately, we had to pull the article to be on the safe side.
Regardless of our storied past with this integrator, we’re happy to have Falcon Northwest back in the office to start everyone off on a clean slate.
After our previous round of system instabilities with Falcon, we’re looking to see if it can deliver a stable system and, if not, can it do what it takes to fix its problems. Beyond that, we were just anxious to get the granddaddy of boutiques back in the office to see what it could do. We configured this system with an NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2, our first, so we’re interested to see what impact it has on gaming. We’ve always been impressed with Falcon’s support, so we’re looking for the pioneer of boutique-quality support to maintain its reputation of great customer service. Finally, this is a Small-Form Factor (SFF), so we’re interested to see what Falcon has done to address the cooling issues inherent in SFF integrations.
*Falcon now only offers this unit with a 750W PSU.
**Falcon has replaced the 4000+ processor with the 4200+.
***The 74GB Raptor is no longer available, although they offer the 150GB version.