Tom's Holiday Buyer's Guide 2008, Part 1

Falcon Northwest FragBox QuadFire
By: Chris Angelini

We were really impressed by Falcon Northwest’s Mach V in our recent roundup of high-end gaming systems. So much so, in fact, that we invited Falcon to build something for our holiday gift guide—and it needed to be something even higher on the totem pole of cool. No doubt, the FragBox QuadFire the company sent to us is exactly what we were talking about.

The black box in which Falcon shipped the system weighs 30 pounds, so the FragBox is not your typical small form factor machine—though it is easy enough to pick up by one hand (it helps that there’s a handle built-in to the chassis). Best of all, you give up nothing in exchange for the portability of a LAN party-ready chassis.

Finessed inside this flagship FragBox, you’ll find DFI’s LanParty JR P45-T2RS micro-ATX motherboard, with four DDR2 memory slots and a pair of PCI Express x16 that run at x8 signaling rates. You’ll find two Palit Radeon HD 4870 X2 boards populating the PCIe interfaces—that’s 4 GB total of GDDR5 memory and four RV770 GPUs on a micro-ATX board!

Four cores, four GPUs, and 8GB of RAM in there

An Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 running at 3 GHz helps drive the insane graphics subsystem and is topped with Zalman’s CNPS700 cooler. Meanwhile, 8 GB of Crucial DDR2-800 memory fully justifies the move to Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit. A single Hitachi 7K1000 1TB Deskstar and Lite-On 20x DVD+/-R/RW drive might seem somewhat tame in comparison to this system’s go-fast parts, but you could always connect to a speedy storage area network (SAN) through the machine’s Gigabit Ethernet port if you want more storage or at least a RAID 1/5-protected array.

Naturally, all of that high-end hardware requires a meaty PSU, so Falcon finesses SilverStone’s ST1000 1,000 W modular supply into the cramped case.

It’d be a disservice to talk about the hardware Falcon Northwest selected and just stop there. In every way, this is a configuration that any hardware enthusiast can appreciate, no matter how ardently one might insist on building his or her own box. The custom portfolio that Falcon includes lists all installed hardware, a shipping checklist, a QA checklist with BIOS settings, hardware revisions, and software versions, burn-in results, warranty information, and all bundled accessories in one faux-leather folder. Of course, then there are the other Falcon extras: a shirt, cap, logoed coffee mug, and eight ounces of a lightly-roasted, pre-ground, high-caffeine coffee blend.

Priced at $3,995, the QuadFire is everything there is to like about premium hardware—and it isn’t so expensive as to be unreasonable. If you have someone special on your gift list that has been extra-good this year, this is the ultimate way to let them know. And if you don’t have someone special, you can buy one for me if you’d like.

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  • ravenware
    Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30"

    , we can’t think of any computer user who wouldn’t be thrilled to get one.

    Gamers. The 8ms response time is a little on the slow side.
  • Portall
    Nope. You won't see difference between 8 and 4ms :)
  • V3NOM
    well you can... CRT vs LCD is quite clear.
  • cangelini
    I play on the prior year's model (3007) all the time without any problems. Don't pass up gaming on a 30" display without at least trying it for yourself!
  • Anonymous
    Dual-link DVI does NOT need two seperate cables. HDMI's video component IS DVI. I'm amazed this slipped through and into the article:
  • radnor
    Well, you will actually. If you ever seen them side by side you will notice the difference. 5ms seems to be the sweet spot.
  • LazyGarfield
    Interesting article! I´m still looking for the two beautiful women but cant find them :P
  • Anonymous
    Just a word of warning to anyone purchasing this monitor and wanting to watch Blu-Ray titles on it. If you use DVI as your input it can not display Blu-Ray titles above 1920 x 1080. Now I know this is the native res on the monitor. But HDCP will fail if the monitor's resolution is set any higher than this. This is due to a design flaw in the monitor's chipset. This wouldn't be a problem if all it meant was you had to reset the resolution when you want to watch a movie, but the problem is, 1920 x 1080 is not the same aspect ratio as 2560 x 1600. So your picture is vertically stretched. I know this because I bought one and spent hours in forums and on the phone with Dell before finding this out. I returned the monitor, because at $2000, there's no excuse for buggy HDCP support over DVI.
  • Anonymous
    what happened to the really cute girl you guys had last year ?
  • xsamitt
    I think I'd take the 30 inch dell if it was free......Guess I won't be having one now for
    8 mills is just to slow.And Leigon thanks for the heads up.

    I do hope the new items to come are more interesting than this first round.
  • Anonymous
    What happened to the great girl from last year? The blond on here looks strung out and or too gothy for a Christmas ad.
  • Anonymous
    Ugly girls...
  • zak_mckraken
    Ugly girls...

    Oh really? Come on pal, let's see some pictures of your wife/girlfriend so we can compare. Well, assuming you have one of course.
  • jameshan2k
    I usually don't go for blondes, but the blonde is quite nice....
  • zak_mckraken
    About the response time, 8ms does seem a tad high but we have to be careful here. Most manufacturers will advertise their monitors as having a 2ms or 5ms response time. However, when you look at the charts, most of the time this response time is the maximum the monitor can reach during a dark scene or a low action gaming sequence. This is often not representative of an average use and the so-called 5ms monitor will most likely be around 6ms-7ms in everyday situations. Same thing applies for contrast since every manufacturer uses their own chart for measuring it. The best way to know how your monitor will perform in real life is to look at comparative charts made by neutral parties, like Tom's, who uses the same methods to compare response time, contrast and color fidelity with all monitors.

    As for this particular Dell 3008WFP Ultrasharp 30", I have really no idea if it's suitable for movies and gaming or not. However, is Chris says it is, it's usually enough for me! Unfortunately, I just bought a Samsung T220 and it pleases me enough. Anyway, I do not have 2 grand to put on a monitor... yet.
  • crockdaddy
    Both ladies are quite lovely. If I recall correctly wasn't it Tamara whom graced the last two years as the xmas model?
  • xsamitt
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?
  • zak_mckraken
    How do you find The Samsung T220 picture wise and lag?

    While not the "perfect" monitor, it's definitely one of the best (if not the best) 22 inches monitor around. The colors are rich and true, the contrast is sharp and I haven't notice any lag at all, although I only play World of Warcraft and watch some Divx. Still, the difference was amazing when I switched my old Philips 19" with it! I'm pretty sure the same quality would apply on a fast-paced FPS or a Blu-Ray HD movie. However, I would recommend the T240 if you intend to use your monitor to watch full HD content. Samsung also offer the same models with HD at the end (T220HD) which has a integrated tuner, if you're into that stuff.
  • cruiseoveride

    Santa Baby, a 30" Samsung TFT too, dark grey with a blond elf. I've been an awfully good girl.
  • KITH
    I recently purchased the samsung t260hd it along with the t240hd are a couple of the only ways to get an hdtv with that small of a screen still with 1080p support.