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Custom PC: Falcon Northwest ICON2

Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Extras
By , Anthony Celeste

$5711
www.falcon-nw.com

Unless you’ve been really, really good, we’re not sure if Santa can afford to leave one of these under your tree, but we can sure see such a machine powering his elven workshop. There’s no point in being coy about the specs, so, in one mad rush, here they are:

  • Chassis: Falcon Northwest ICON2
  • Chassis logo insert: White light
  • Chassis fan kit: Noiseblocker overclocking fan pack
  • Power supply: 1200 W modular
  • Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Extreme X79
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K (3.2 GHz)
  • Processor cooler: Mach V liquid cooling
  • Processor overclock: Mach V processor overclock
  • Memory: 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600
  • Video card #1: Evga GeForce GTX 580 (3 GB) Classified Edition
  • Video card #2: Evga GeForce GTX 580 (3 GB) Classified Edition
  • Sound Card: On-board
  • Networking: Dual integrated Ethernet
  • Primary drive: Crucial M4 256 GB SSD (6 Gb/s)
  • Secondary drive: WD Caviar Black 2 TB (7200 RPM, 6 Gb/s)
  • Optical drive: LG 12x Blu-ray
  • Media reader: Internal media reader with USB 3.0
  • 64-Bit OS: Windows 7 Professional
  • Warranty: Three years parts and service


Sure, those are phenomenal specs, but they do no justice to the machine as a whole. Underneath its sleek, black, brushed aluminum exterior, punctuated by the illuminated falcon logo on the reversible front door, the ICON2 takes a new spin on heat dissipation. The motherboard is oriented 90 degrees clockwise from most every other tower configuration. After all, heat rises, so why not let most of the heat escape straight from the top rather than wasting so much fan energy and noise trying to push it out the back? So yes, the I/O ports are on the top of the system, hidden under a vented top panel. The cables route through a gap at the top of the back panel, still hidden from view.

CPU water cooling is standard, but the pump is pushing the water straight up from nearly the floor of the case—no small feat and one that required significant study by Falcon Northwest engineers. The pump and power supply have their own chamber apart from the motherboard, and a 180 mm fan helps to keep up to two graphics cards cool at very low acoustic levels (a third card can be added). Despite the liquid cooling, there are still five fans in the ICON2, including two for the voltage regulator and supplemental CPU cooling. Fortunately, the system stays fairly quiet overall thanks to its design optimizations.

Toolless design abounds here, from the sliding side panel locks to the five external and six internal drive bays. Notably, the hard drives are made swappable through a series of snap-out sleds, much like a business-class JBOD appliance, rather than a single pull-out cage. Elegant, powerful, and replete, you couldn’t recommend a finer system for the coming year.

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