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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!

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.