- Stylish build and paint job.
- Compact design.
- Excellent performance.
- Speedy, roomy storage with space to expand.
- Strong support, including three-year warranty.
- Expensive for a single-card system.
- The 2017 Falcon Northwest Tiki is a cutting-edge gaming desktop nearly unmatched in power given its size.
- You’ll pay a bit extra for the design and style, but it will blow away any modern game at 1080p.
Design and Features
Falcon Northwest consistently puts out some of the nicest-looking high-end desktops, usually leaning toward a minimalist approach and premium automotive paint. This was the case with the 2015 Tiki and the more recent Talon, and so it is again here. The company offers customizable paint jobs (ours added $424 to the cost), and the all-metal 2017 Tiki unit we received boasts a navy blue base with two metallic gray vertical stripes running along the front and top panels. It’s pretty slick, resembling the iconic hood of a Mustang GT350. The left side features a window perfectly sized and positioned to let you look in at the GTX 1080. Given that Nvidia’s newest cards are futuristic looking in their own right, it’s a nice touch of flair to an overall restrained design.
Equally impressive is the computer’s size, which hasn’t changed much from 2015. The new Tiki is still a slim and compact tower, measuring 13.25 by 4 by 13.5 inches (HWD), while the old one stood at 14 by 4 by 13.75 inches. That’s especially noteworthy for the power packed inside, though the extra technical work and labor that go into this achievement add to the cost. Falcon Northwest’s Tiki Workstation has the exact same measurements, while the MSI Trident$1,050.15 at Amazon—a much less expensive proposition—is sized more like a game console (13.9 by 3.8 by 9.89 inches), but isn’t brimming with as much power or as high-quality materials. Regardless, the new Tiki is much smaller than traditional towers, and ideal for a tight setup.
Ports are located on the top and back panels only, with the front reserved for an etched Falcon Northwest logo and the paint stripes. In addition to the Power and Reset buttons, the top panel includes a slot-loading DVD-RW drive, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a mic jack. Around back, there are three more USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort connector, and audio lines. The graphics card includes the usual suspects for modern cards to connect to your display: four DisplayPort connectors and an HDMI port.
Storage amounts are highly configurable, but our unit includes two 1TB Intel 600P NVMe PCIe drives in a RAID Level 0 array. That’s very fast hardware, able to fit thanks to the use of Asus’s Mini-ITX Z270 motherboard. As a result, there are still two drive bays open for expansion, should you want to install some roomy traditional hard drives. The right side panel can be opened without tools via two hand screws on the rear, giving you easy access to the interior. Any Mini-ITX build is tight to work in, but the inside is managed about as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
The Asus motherboard also boasts software-configurable RGB lighting for the side window. This unit includes a 600-watt 80 Plus Gold power supply, 32GB of memory (the max for the board), Bluetooth 4.1, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Falcon Northwest protects the Tiki with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty, and one year of overnight two-way shipping for getting it back and forth quickly.
The prime hardware, as you’d expect, includes the processor: A 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-7700K keeps the Tiki running at lightning speed. Combined with the 8GB GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card, this desktop is a downright powerhouse (the more powerful Titan X graphics card is also an option when ordering, should you be so bold). It did well on our daily productivity benchmark test, PCMark 8 Work Conventional, beating out systems with older processors, like the 2015 Tiki and the 2016 Alienware Aurora. It was a speed demon on multimedia tests, too. Suffice it to say, everyday multitasking won’t be an issue on the Tiki, and it’s more than capable of crunching through media work or side projects.
Gaming and 3D tests were a breeze for the Tiki, with some strong scores for a single-card PC. Since much of the cost of the Tiki is going into its size, many similarly priced (or slightly more expensive) larger desktops, like the Asus ROG GT51$4,676.29 at Amazon and the Digital Storm Velox (Core i7-7700K), have two GTX 1080s in SLI. An exception would be the dual-1080-wielding Alienware Aurora, which doesn’t have the build quality and components of the Tiki, but is in the middle ground in terms of size and actually costs less ($3,604).
Those three systems’ scores on Fire Strike Extreme, the more strenuous of our two 3D tests, surpassed the Tiki’s by several thousand points. In real-world application, though, a GTX 1080 can handle any modern title at maximum settings, so I wouldn’t exactly be concerned you “only” have one card. The Tiki was achieved upwards of 130 frames per second (fps) on the full HD Heaven and Valley gaming tests with graphics quality set to Ultra, and still hit around 35fps at 4K. That said, 4K performance was obviously much better with two cards (the Aurora and ROG GT51 managed more than 60fps at 4K on Heaven and Valley), so that’s a better way of future-proofing yourself.
Power at a Premium
The Falcon Northwest Tiki will run contemporary games at maximum settings for the foreseeable future, and it’s capable of smooth 4K and VR, too. On top of that, its style is more or less unparalleled, and the careful work that clearly went into the design and build has value. On a pure performance basis, the Alienware Aurora has a leg up, and represents a better deal since it offers two GTX 1080s for less money. If you like what the Tiki has to offer, though, including its uniquely compact size, super-fast storage, paint job, and room for storage expansion, the extra expense may be worth it.