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Falcon Northwest Talon review: you get what you pay for

The Falcon NW Talon on a table in front of a window.
Falcon Northwest Talon
MSRP $6,217.00
“The Falcon Northwest Talon is an exercise in unbridled craftsmanship and maximized PC performance.”
Pros
  • Immaculate build quality
  • Stunning level of detail
  • The latest and greatest parts
  • God tier warranty and support
  • Great thermals
Cons
  • Niche appeal
  • Shockingly expensive

PC components keep getting bigger. And hotter.

If you go to configure the most badass gaming PC from a reputable system builder like Falcon Northwest, you’ll notice that they’re even bigger than they used to be. That’s true of the Falcon Northwest Talon, which has long been one of our favorite boutique gaming PCs. Yes, it has grown and is now packed with the most powerful parts possible: the Core i9-14900KS and RTX 4090.

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The Talon has no less finesse than before, though. It remains a niche computer, but the strengths of the company’s approach to PC building are on display perhaps more than ever before.

Pricing and configurations

The Falcon NW Talon on a table in front of a window.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Unlike some of its competitors, Falcon Northwest doesn’t sell pre-configured PCs. Everything is built-to-order and fully customizable, which is the overwhelming strength of the company. But it’s also what makes it so expensive. Companies like Maingear or Origin sell cheaper, preconfigured models that allow starting prices as low as $1,199 — albeit for fairly modest builds.

Falcon Northwest takes the opposite approach. The cases are designed in-house and use the highest-quality materials possible. There are no cheap options here, with starting prices for the mid-tower Talon coming in at $3,596. Again, that’s the starting price, which comes with just an RTX 4060, Intel Core i5-14600K, and 32GB of RAM. In terms of the GPU in particular, that’s a fairly entry-level machine. To put things in perspective, you can buy the HP Omen 45L with an RTX 4080 for hundreds of dollars less than an RTX 4060 Talon. The Omen is one of our favorite gaming desktops, so keep that in mind.

Even more than other boutique system integrators, Falcon Northwest doesn’t even offer cheaper mid-tower designs. Digital Storm, for example, has the entry-level Lynx, but they also have the Lumos and the Velox. The Velox is the closest comparison to the Talon, but it’s over a thousand dollars cheaper than the Talon when similarly configured.

With all that said, the Falcon Northwest Talon is as expensive as it gets. My configuration came with the Intel Core i9-14900KS and Nvidia RTX 4090 — and those parts ain’t cheap in and of themselves. But Falcon Northwest is selling them for fair prices. The company charges an extra $1,530 to jump from the PNY RTX 4060 to the Nvidia RTX 4090. A quick look around online will reveal that you’re getting the RTX 4090 for a decent price.

Even with prices dropping on the RTX 4090 over the past months, Falcon Northwest is still selling it to you for cheaper than elsewhere.

Specs

  Falcon Northwest Talon
Dimensions 8.8 inches x 17.0 inches x 19.0 (WxDxH) inches
Fan Pack ARGB Lighted Fan Pack
Power Supply Seasonic Vertex GX 1000 watt
Motherboard Asus ROG Strix Z790-E Gaming WiFi II
Processor Intel Core i9-14900KS
Graphics Nvidia RTX 4090 Founders Edition
Storage Crucial T700 2TB
2x 2.5″ SSD bays
2x 3.5″ HDD bays
Cooler Falcon Northwest Liquid Cooling 280MM
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Warranty 3 Years Parts & Labor
Operating system Windows 11
Price
$6,217

Obviously, Falcon Northwest sent me the most decked-out version of the Talon imaginable. And to be honest, if you’re going to buy one of these systems, there’s no reason not to go for something more expensive. You’re already paying the premium of working with Falcon Northwest for even the cheapest version of the Talon as is.

So yes, my configuration came with an RTX 4090 and even a Core i9-14900KS, putting the total price at $6,217. That’s about as expensive a PC as you can buy — and probably more than you even realized you could spend.

Design

The side panel open on the Falcon NW Talon.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Talon is immaculate. When it comes attention to detail, precise cuts, high-end materials, and cable management, there’s hardly anything else like it on the market. The black mid-tower case uses a very thick, 4mm metal with a cool, smooth touch. It’s not unlike the feeling of a Hydro Flask bottle — and I mean that as a compliment. Very few cases dare to use materials this premium.

It’s not just the materials and build quality that make this so impressive though. It’s the attention to detail. It’s the thoughtfulness behind its everyday usability. It’s the tiny spot for your finger at the bottom of the glass panel. It’s the meticulous cable management that is not just organized but also convenient for swapping or adding components. Or consider the large metal chunk on the bottom that makes it suitable to more safely sit on carpet. And possibly most importantly, it’s the careful design of the thermals.

None of that is to say this is a particularly flashy design — at least not these days. Compared to some of the more extravagant and eye-catching designs out there, the Talon is a bit more old-school. It uses flat front and top panels, and although mine came with tempered glass side panels, you can also opt for aluminum walls for a complete box look. In a world where everything is mesh, glass, and fully transparent, the Talon looks quite a bit like a conventional mid-tower PC. And that makes sense because although I haven’t reviewed this particular version of the Talon until now, it’s been around for quite a few years.

The back of the Falcon NW Talon.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

All that to say, there are certainly some reasons to be concerned about a box like this in terms of thermals. With the solid front cover and top, you might assume there’s not enough airflow coming in. But this is Falcon Northwest we’re talking about. It knows what it’s doing. There’s less mesh and holes and air intake than you’d expect, but according to its own prototypes, tighter and more precise control of airflow resulted in lower temperatures than with a bunch of extra air intake. Falcon Northwest’s solution is much more subtle. The front panel has strips of mesh and is open underneath — but that’s about it externally.

You can’t talk about the Talon’s design without talking about paint jobs. Our review unit didn’t have anything customized outside of the small Digital Trends logo at the bottom of the front panel. Of course, Falcon Northwest is expert at producing high-end, custom paint jobs that no one else can do. I’m guessing that most people won’t opt for one, as a more minimalist look is more the trend.

Speaking of which, you should know that the light-up Falcon Northwest logo is featured prominently on both the front panel and the CPU cooler. That’s not so unusual for prebuilt systems, but the Falcon Northwest logo isn’t exactly subtle. It feels noticeably old-school. That feels unfortunate for a system this customizable, and I actually would have preferred the modernized company logo found on the fans. Even if you were to get this entire system custom-painted to a particular theme, there’s no getting around the falcon.

Internals

Cables tied around the back of the motherboard in the Falcon NW Talon.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

There’s plenty of room inside the Talon, enough to fit a large ATX motherboard and the monstrous RTX 4090. Not all cases can fit the ridiculous size of that graphics card without making your internals completely inaccessible. But the Talon is properly-suited to squeeze it in, and even if you opt for a smaller GPU, you’ll appreciate the extra space. And in terms of size, it’s still smaller than options like the Origin Genesis.

Despite that extra room, the internal thermals are fairly simple. There aren’t a thousand fans in here, nor is it covered in RGB. The custom AIO 280mm liquid cooler is the only cooling option you can configure it with.

Internally, there’s one fan below the GPU to pull in new air, which cycles through the bottom intake of the RTX 4090. The Talon also includes an extra fan on the back to pull hot air out of the GPU. All that might be surprising, especially considering these hot components inside. You can’t get more heat than this.

But the relatively small number of fans also keeps things fairly quiet. I was impressed that despite the great performance, the system never got overly loud, which counts for a lot in my book. Falcon Northwest tunes and customizes the whole thermal profile closely to create a well-balanced system. In fact, according to the video posted by JayzTwoCents, Falcon Northwest found in its own testing that pushing the CPU as hard as possible didn’t always result in the best performance.

The internals of the Falcon Northwest Talon, showing the CPU cooler, RAM, and motherboard.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

As for the GPU itself, you’ll notice that it’s mounted right to the chassis with a metal bracket. There isn’t even the slightest of GPU sag. That makes it a little trickier to swap out and upgrade yourself but for a system like this, having a completed, refined system is more the idea. And this mounting is great for that purpose.

Another thing Falcon Northwest does with the GPU is use modified connectors to make a safer connection to the RTX 4090. These are using CableMod StealthSesnse 12-volt cables to make sure you’re getting the most powerful (and safe) connection.

Performance

When you spend thousands of dollars on a PC, you don’t want one that looks pretty. No, no — you want a PC that has the muscle to back it up. And really, what we’re talking about here is cooling. Because if you configure this set of components in any PC, it’s going to perform “well.” Even a sloppily put-together prebuilt PC that’s thousands of dollars cheaper will put out high frame rates in games. I don’t have a direct apples-to-apples comparison here with these exact components in another prebuilt system, whether it’s from a bigger PC company like Dell or another system integrator like Origin.

  Falcon Northwest Talon (Core i9-14900KS / RTX 4090)
Geekbench 6 (single/multi) 3221 / 21585
Cinebench R24 (single/multi) 137 / 2132
Handbrake 33 seconds
3DMark Time Spy 33534
Pugetbench Premiere Pro 10848
Red Dead Redemption 2 (4K, Ultra) 130 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (4K, Ultra, DLSS Quality) 111 fps
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (4K, Ultra High) 126 fps

But yeah, given how good the thermals are and how fast these parts are, performance is unbeatable. Whether it’s under full-tilt multi-core loads in content creation or spikey tasks like games, the Talon is an absolute speed demon. Under the 10-minute stress test of Cinebench R24’s multi-core benchmark, the Talon’s CPU did rise up to 97 degrees Celsius — but remember this is a far heavier load than normal applications and games.

Also, remember that the Core i9-14900KS is absolutely audacious, and it is all on its own. The new chip is identical to the Core i9-14900K in nearly every way, except that it pushes frequencies higher, up to 6.2GHz, as claimed by Intel. The single-core score I saw in both Cinebench R23 and R24 is record-breaking compared to even the best competition from AMD.

As you can see above, you can play most games in 4K at well over 100 frames per second at max settings. It takes a lot to stump this beast. The only true barrier I encountered was the Overdrive mode in Cyberpunk 2077 with DLSS turned off. I was only able to get 37 fps in 1440p. But really, path tracing just isn’t possible without upscaling, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the DLSS Balanced mode looks quite good, and you can still get over 100 fps in 4K. It’ll be a long time before the age starts to show on this set of components.

Having the best of the best is likely important to those investing in something like the Talon, so I imagine configurations with the latest and greatest silicon are the most popular option. I should say, though, that dropping this to an RTX 4080 Super would still be fantastic, as would downgrading to one of the cheaper Intel chip options. You’d certainly be cramming less into this case and generating less heat for the system to deal with.

Is the Falcon Northwest Talon worth it?

The Falcon NW Talon on a table in an office.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Talon is glorious. There’s no question about it. The craftsmanship is second to none and the performance is fantastic. Throw in the best warranty and support in the business, and you have a PC that’s worthy of its price.

But it’s for a very specific audience. Normally, we talk about prebuilt PCs versus building one yourself — with the benefits and downsides of both. But Falcon Northwest represents a third way — the most expensive way. It’s a custom PC that you don’t have to build yourself. It’s not for DIYers. However, it has many of the upsides of a custom PC, in that you have tons of options for parts, and they’re all accessible and upgradable.

As you may have guessed, this is an increasingly niche demographic. PCs are easier to build than ever, and there’s never been more resources for picking compatible parts and building your PC. Of all the PCs that the company offers, the Talon is perhaps the most exemplary of this. The smaller options, whether it’s the Tiki or the FragBox, would require a bit of skill to build yourself — and, therefore, have a bit of a different demographic.

Even more so, there are prebuilt PCs with an RTX 4090 that are thousands of dollars cheaper than the Talon. There’s no getting around that.

However, if you find yourself in the niche that wants a high-end, powerful gaming PC and would rather pay someone to build it than buy it yourself, the Talon is as premium as it gets.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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