Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion absolutely kills systems. While the expansive scenes and breathtaking views are amazing to look at, the diverse vegetation types that sway in the breeze, the distant mountains and cities, dynamic sky and lighting effects take their toll in the outdoors. Inside it is like many other games; there is only so much you can pack into a small room or maze of corridors.
In the indoor scenes, where there is a limited number of objects to be rendered, the boost from the overclocked AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU gives it a clear advantage over the Monarch Hornet Pro. Again, it wasn't until the resolutions increased that the Monarch beat out the Falcon. Outdoors, both cards feel the wrath of the gates to Oblivion. The systems handle themselves well with all of the eye candy turned up. At 2560x1600, the Hornet Pro and the Mach V can handle 60 frames per second, but and outdoors they both fall to around 30 frames per second at 1600x1200.
Every Falcon Northwest Mach V system we have had for testing has been a pleasure to run through its paces. We have only encountered problems twice. The first was a dead-on-arrival that we are certain was the result of improper handling by the parcel company. The other was with the Quad-SLI system that we had received for the technology launch. The issues there were driver-based and Nvidia has yet to release new series 90 drivers for the 7900/7950 GX2 cards.
Apart from these things, we have been impressed every step of the way. This system arrived with no issues and worked like a champ throughout the entire testing process. Our anonymous calls to customer service and tech support were always met with a human instead of an electronic phone maze. The Falcon Northwest people are knowledgeable and personable, and other companies are starting to realize the importance of good phone service - even the large corporations are "onshoring" call centers to cater to local demand. When you call Falcon you will be treated with care, and by people who actually build PCs and have a passion for them.
The downside is cost, as Falcon Northwest systems do not come cheap: the total price tag for the system we received was $7,280. Now the DIY guys out there will stomp up and down saying that you can build them cheaper by going to NewEgg or ZipZoomFly, and buy the parts to do it yourself. They are correct. However, if you are looking to purchase a hassle-free system or are looking for the assurance of a rock solid machine that is someone else's problem to fix, system builders are the way to go. Falcon is at the pinnacle of the elite system builders. The custom modifications and paint work are worth the extra money and the warranty is iron-clad.
Owning a Falcon is reminiscent of what Ferris Bueller had to say as he turned to the camera after picking up his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson, in a Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." Although the car in the movie is a replica, the Mach V is the real deal. If your wallet is as big as your desire for a one-of-a-kind PC, a Falcon Northwest Mach V is right for you.