20th anniversary of Falcon Northwest Talon
"The unstoppable performance of Falcon Northwest's Talon 20th Anniversary Edition makes this gaming PC worth every penny."
Unsurpassed build quality
Best in class performance
Breathtaking, tasteful LED lighting
Dual GPU option
Improved configurations are expensive
No flash 3
20th anniversary. Yes, you read that correctly.
Long before there were mainstream brands like Alienware, Omen, Legion and Razer, there was Falcon Northwest. The boutique company, founded in the early 1990s, was not only recognized as the first manufacturer of gaming PCs, but also has a cult following for its impressive attention to detail.
Falcon has spent most of the past two years refining the case of the mid-sized desktop and modernizing its design to achieve this. The 20th anniversary edition of the Talon. From the insanely powerful chip selection to the design of the fans and ventilation slots, Falcon's curation of meaningful technologies for the Talon made to order proves that the company still meets the requirements of the players today.
The best Anti-Mac Pro on this side of Windows
Given its history of gaming legacy, you might expect Talon competitors to be products from other boutique brands like Corsair's Origin PC or Digital Storm, but this desktop has an even more sophisticated rival in mind: Apple's Mac Pro. The Talon's unstoppable performance makes it a great workstation for professionals working on large files and large amounts of data. The build quality of this desktop makes comparisons with Apple only natural.
In contrast to the molded plastic constructions from Alienware, the Talon is milled from solid aluminum blocks, which gives it a long service life that has not come across our desks in the PC area. The use of plastics is kept to a minimum. In contrast to other metal-coated gaming desktops, which are based on thinner metal sheets, the 4 mm thick aluminum plates help to protect the expensive silicon components inside.
You really have to feel the metal doors to appreciate the armor-like build quality of the Talon. The generous use of metal adds to the Talon's 40 pound weight and makes it more than twice as heavy as the similar size Origin PC Neuron. Apple's aluminum-machined Mac Pro weighs a comparable 39.2 pounds.
For the redesign for the 20th anniversary, you can either choose a more restrained aesthetic with solid metal doors for a workplace-like aesthetic or opt for transparent side walls made of tempered glass, which present the new tasteful LED lighting system from Falcon. Although LED trimmings make the Talon look more like a modern game system, Falcon's implementation of this feature is rather subtle.
With a dual GPU setup behind the suicide style doors, the Talon has Ferrari power behind its lobster-like aesthetic.
Even with the glass panel options, the design of the Talon wouldn't feel out of place in an upscale office. Make no mistake, with a dual GPU setup behind the suicide style doors, the Talon has Ferrari power behind its lobster-like aesthetic.
The thick metal panels are wrapped in a matte, pearl-blasted finish and give our test device the illusion of a larger presence on our desk than you would expect from the dimensions 8.75 x 15.5 x 17.25 inches. Even if you don't find a cheese grater here, an angled facade with chunky side ventilation cutouts gives the Talon its Art Deco-like stature, similar to that of the Empire State Building.
Although there are no expensive steering wheels to roll the Talon around – like the Mac Pro – the thick metal stand on the bottom not only adds to the Talon's aesthetic appeal, but also helps with airflow. A multitude of ventilation slots, filters and fans inside keep the system cool, and according to Falcon thanks to the selection of the ideal cooling components, the system was largely quiet.
Surprisingly, the fan noise was loudest when the system was turned on for the first time. The talon calmed down immediately afterwards to a low hum and worked at this level even under heavy workload.
The Falcon is characterized by attention to detail.
Rear wing doors, which remain closed with exactly the right magnetic force, make the inner parts more accessible than the competing Origin PC, which has a similar design, but is hampered by a too strong magnetic lock. It is this thoughtful attention to details that distinguishes the Falcon. Omitting Thunderbolt 3 ports is a disappointment, but you'll find USB-C and a selection of USB-A and other ports on the back and top of the case for easy access.
Falcon Northwest's attention to detail goes far beyond the thick glass and aluminum sidewalls. Unlike other PC vendors, the Talon 20th Anniversary Edition was immaculately packaged. Doors, hinges and moving parts were taped to avoid scratches and scratches during transport.
In addition to being able to choose from Falcon's carefully selected assortment of internal PC components for your build, there are a variety of customization options that make the Talon feel like a bespoke PC. Housing colors, custom logo orders and UV printing give the Talon a very personal feeling. Our test device comes with a metal badge under the right side door, on which the name and serial number of Digital Trends are engraved.
To the core
With a starting price of $ 2,432, the Talon isn't the cheapest gaming PC on the market – even in the basic configuration. The premium you pay for the Talon depends on the quality materials, rigorous testing and craftsmanship.
The price of our test device, valued at $ 6,488, can raise some eyebrows.
And if you look at Falcon Northwest, chances are you won't buy the base configuration. In fact, if you go through the configuration tool on the Falcon website, loading the system with the latest options will be tempting, and upgrades will quickly increase system costs.
Our $ 6,488 test device may raise a few eyebrows, but Falcon's prices are competitive compared to other boutique PC manufacturers.
For that price, you get a liquid-cooled 12-core AMD Ryzen 3900X processor, two Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards that are connected via NV Link, two Samsung TB 970 EVO Plus solid-state drives with 1 TB that are in configured in a RAID 0 array. Premium cable management system CableMod and 64 GB G.Skill DDR4 memory as well as doors made of glass and solid aluminum, which are included in the scope of delivery.
The twelve CPU cores in conjunction with the 4,352 CUDA cores on each of the Nvidia RTX graphics cards offer unstoppable performance at the gaming and workstation level. The Talon is by far one of the fastest systems we've tested, and even beats larger rivals like Digital Storm's Aventum X, especially with multithreaded workloads.
Given that the Ryzen 9 3900X processor supports 12 cores and 24 threads, it clearly outperforms the competing Intel Core i9-9900K found in competing premium gaming desktop configurations. The talon scored 48,814 points on Geekbench 4's multithreaded benchmark compared to approximately 30,000 points. On Geekbench 5, the Talon scored 13,129 points on a similar benchmark, more than 4,300 points ahead of systems configured with the Core i9-9900K.
The Ryzen processor in our Talon configuration also displaced a competing system when testing in Cinebench R20, which was equipped with the Intel Core i9-9900K processor. The larger number of cores in the AMD design means that our talon with its performance of 7,100 points was more than 2,500 points ahead of the i9-9900K. Video editors and content creators will thrive with this type of multi-core power.
The gap in single-core performance was much larger: The Ryzen scored 492 points compared to the 500 points on the Intel gaming chipset. Since the single-core performance of games flows much more into the frame rates, this processor is an overkill for most players.
Given the strong results of the AMD silicon, the Talon scored below the top percentile of gaming desktops in 3DMark and PCMark tests. The Talon is able to juggle video export while working on large Photoshop files and easily opening large Microsoft Office Excel files. This is a system that cannot be slowed down no matter what you throw at it.
The support of the 7 nm CPU for PCIe 4.0 also helps that files, games and applications are started extremely quickly. When benchmarking with the Crystal DiskMark 6 tool, our Samsung 970 EVO drive averaged 2,151 MB per second in the read test and almost 1,900 MB in the write test. This is one of the fastest speeds we have encountered.
Thanks to the dual GPU setup, gaming performance was not a problem. The Talon consistently showed a performance of well over 155 FPS on Fortnite, even in 4K with Epic mode activated. This is the highest score we have seen by far. The performance was similarly outstanding in Civilization VI.
The Talon was also a strong performer in more demanding titles like Assassins Creed Odyssey and Battlefield V. Where other high-end gaming rigs we tested began to stutter in higher game settings with a resolution of 1440p, the Talon maintained a constant performance up to 4K at medium performance with settings for both games. In Assassin's Creed Odyssey, the game ran in 1440p with no delays or ghosting in all modes, and choppy frames were only seen in high mode with 4K resolution. Few systems are as 4K-capable as the Talon.
In addition to a 30-day money-back guarantee, Falcon Northwest offers a very generous three-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. During the first of the three years, Falcon also pays overnight shipping costs if problems arise to ensure as little downtime as possible. After the first year, you'll have to pay to have the device shipped to the company's repair center, but Falcon will return it to you. The three-year term is longer than that of most gaming companies and more typical of business systems.
Business users who want to use the Talon for data analysis and use on workstations may be disappointed that Falcon does not offer warranty upgrade options. Mainstream PC manufacturers such as HP, Dell and Lenovo offer optional extended warranty upgrades to extend the expected life of a system.
Falcon Northwest redesigned one of the most successful gaming desktops 20 years later and created a unique, bespoke gaming PC with unmatched performance and build quality in the Talon 20th Anniversary Edition. The Talon milled from solid metal is probably the best idea of what a Mac Pro could be if MacOS were not running on the Apple desktop.
But beauty is not just up close, and the Talon is equipped with the best processors and up to a dual graphics card setup in its armor-like craftsmanship – these PC components bring agile performance to this powerful desktop. The Talon is really a Ferrari disguised as a tank, and players who have the money to pamper themselves and keep an eye on the design will certainly not be disappointed with this desktop, even if it means part of it Work on building their own rig in favor of sacrificing Falcon's custom configurations.
Is there a better alternative?
Dell's Alienware Aurora R8 and Aurora R9 desktops can also be configured with a dual GPU design. Although Alienware's Aurora R9 starts at a modest $ 799, upgrades can also be expensive. A more comparable configuration with an Intel Core i9-9900K processor and two RTX 2080 super graphics costs up to $ 4,675. Compared to Talon's $ 6,488, the $ 2,000 premium for Falcon's design is due to Talon using more metal parts than Dell for molded plastics.
One of our top recommendations for gaming PCs this year is Neuron by Origin PC, a boutique gaming desktop that offers similar configurations to the Talon with a similar design for hinged glass doors at the back. Like the Talon, the Neuron also offers high performance – as expected since Origin PC's high-end configuration is $ 13,000 – but if you're interested in the finer details, Falcon Northwest offers unmatched attention to detail in its construction. Similar to how we configured our updated Talon tester, the Neuron would cost $ 4,000 or $ 2,500 less. However, the lower price is due to Origin's use of a more compact micro-ATX board, which could limit the upgrade potential for serious modders.
How long it will take?
With its performance, the Talon is designed so that you can enjoy playing for years. Even if the technology wears down inside, the rear gullwing doors offer enough access to do your own upgrades. And if you choose the Talon model with solid 4mm aluminum doors, the case of this rig is likely to survive.
Should you buy it
Yes. Though not the cheapest PC on the market, the Talon's solid performance and design details make this PC a versatile PC that will delight gamers and creatives alike.