Sandy Bridge and GeForce GTX 580 appear
Who came up with the concept of a vertically oriented motherboard that positions the graphics cards upright so the tremendous heat they generate vents straight up?
It’s hard to say who first had the idea—we’ve seen cases that feature this design, and the Main-Gear Shift PC that we reviewed in June 2010 took the same approach. But Falcon Northwest claims it had a stake in the original idea and has even provided time-stamped images of its prototypes of the inverted design from 2002. That certainly predates the aforementioned examples, as well as Voodoo’s luxurious but elusive Omen.
Falcon Northwest’s new Mach V case gets vertical.
So, why the delay in finally getting a vertical design out? Falcon says exorbitant tooling costs prevented its prototype case from going into production, but the company is happy to finally have an inverted design out now.
The new Mach V’s case is an improved version of Silverstone’s Raven RV01 (the same vendor Falcon says it worked with on a vertical case years ago). The customizations include a 10cm fan on the back of the motherboard tray to cool the voltage regulators. Falcon says airflow testing also showed that the GPUs needed far more of a push from the 18cm fan at the bottom of the case and thus a baffle is used to shunt all of the air directly to the GPUs. Falcon also decided to locate the radiator for the Acetek cooler low and added an inlet so cool exterior air is sucked in rather than hot air hitting it on the way out.
The end result is an amazingly quiet machine considering the performance punch the Mach V provides. Much of that punch comes from Intel’s brand-spanking-new Core i7-2600K chip. Overclocked from its stock 3.4GHz to 4.7GHz, the Sandy Bridge CPU is paired up with not one, but two Kick Ass award–winning GeForce GTX 580 cards. Falcon keeps storage fairly simple with a 1TB Western Digital Black drive and a 240GB OCZ Revo X2. The latter isn’t a typical SSD, but rather four small SSDs RAIDed together and running off PCI Express and using the killer SandForce controllers. Its specs purport stupid-fast speeds in the 700MB/s range, and it certainly felt that damned fast in our tests.
In raw performance, we wondered how the Falcon would stack up against the army of Core i7-980X hexa-cores and tri-SLI and even quad-SLI configs we’ve tested of late. The Mach V did surprisingly well, considering that we’re talking about four cores taking on six.
Normally, Falcon Northwest comes into the room and tap, tap, freaking slays bodies, but this configuration of the Mach V comes in at $4,295. That’s damn near budget pricing for one of its rigs. It’s also about $3,000–$6,000 less than some of the super-rigs we’ve had in our Lab. The closest competitor was the similarly priced Velocity Micro Edge Z55 that we reviewed in December. Equipped with a 3.2GHz Core i7-970 hexa-core (overclocked to 4.3GHz), it was nearly the equivalent of the Falcon in application performance thanks to its six cores. But the price of that hexa-core meant less RAM and lower-end GPUs than the Mach V offers. And, no surprise, the Mach V’s GTX 580s absolutely spank the pair of GTX 460s in the Edge Z55.
Overall, the Mach V is a solidly designed, solidly spec’d machine with no holes that we can see. Yes, it might lack the sex appeal of the uber-machines we’ve encountered lately, but it’s a lot more down to earth in pricing, too.
Falcon Northwest Mach V
A quad-core that can almost run with the hexa-cores.
16GB of RAM is a bit overkill.