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

Custom PC: Falcon Northwest ICON2


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.

  • manu 11
    i am loving these articles!
  • joytech22
    The ZBox is the most promising item to me.
    Why? Because I can mount it on the back of the TV in the lounge for the family and stream my media files to it from my home server.

    I can then throw in an external BD drive and boom, fully capable home entertainment system, which is even capable of light gaming.

    Of course.. I'd reserve my gaming for my gaming rig! ;) The Zbox would be for more family oriented games in the lounge.
  • richboyliang
    omg more of those same hot girls!!!

    as usual, the one with the monitor is the best because she resembles mariah carey.

    blonde one is ok, redhead is too old.
  • richboyliang
    the suggestive poses combined with the suspicious "xXx" on the Thecus network storage box....
  • Judguh
    You can't tell me there's more.... reasonably priced items for the holidays here. :| ... unless you're getting a share of that dough for these ladies :P
  • a4mula
    Why recommend the u2410 when the u2412M can be had for half the price and has the same exact specs along with LED backlighting. The only loss is going from 100% sRGB to 98% sRGB and that's only important to a tiny fraction of users. The other advantage of the u2412M is that it doesn't suffer from pink tint that has plagued the u2410.
  • pharoahhalfdead
    This was an article about electronics? I must have missed something. That's what I get for skipping all the words. Haha
  • kartu
    Shameless sexism, eh?
    But I enjoy it too...
  • JonnyDough
    richboyliangomg more of those same hot girls!!!as usual, the one with the monitor is the best because she resembles mariah carey.blonde one is ok, redhead is too old.
    You must be in your teens. Not all readers here are kids you know...
  • JonnyDough
    For future reference, we adults call them "women", not girls. ;)