The Bird Of Prey Gets A Hearty Intel 12th Gen Core Platform Update
However, this launch also marks a chance for OEM system builder refreshes, and that's what we’re digging into with this new gaming PC. The latest from Falcon Northwest is its newly-minted Talon system, and it's all about that Alder Lake platform. In fact, it literally screams Intel. Typically with these systems, most builders either go jet black or pick a popular, flashy color from a few options. However, with this incarnation of the Talon, Falcon has partnered with Intel for a custom aesthetic and Intel branding that is anything but subtle. The top of the case is devoid of any ventilation, but has one of the largest Intel logos we’ve ever seen on a computer chassis.
The front of the case is solid with a delightful Falcon logo that is backlit and RGB controllable for those not quite into Intel blue. The side panels are hinged at the rear and swing open like doors, which makes accessing the interior extremely simple. Extra care was taken with the assembly of the system, with the stock power supply cables getting a nice upgrade with custom sleeving. Overall the case is compact, well laid out, and assembled with care. But we all know what makes a high-end gaming rig really tick, and it’s not the case...
Beauty Is Skin Deep. This Falcon Was Raised On Alder Lake
12th Gen Core chips achieve this asymmetric core / thread count by leveraging 8 Performance cores with HyperThreading support, in conjunction with an additional 8 smaller cores, called Efficiency cores, that are single-threaded. Paired up with Falcon's semi-custom 280mm AIO cooling unit, the Core i9-12900K is able to run at peak performance while keeping thermals in check. Unfortunately, despite the otherwise ultra-high end nature of the system, full custom liquid or hardline cooling is not offered.
The new Talon's motherboard is high quality as well, and we like that boutique builders like Falcon Northwest don’t lean towards proprietary components. The choice here was the ASUS ROG Hero Z690. This board is feature-packed with plenty of rear connectivity, including two Thunderbolt ports. We should note that we were informed by Falcon Northwest that they might switch to using the ROG Strix Z690 due to increased availability. That board has a similar feature set, but lower price, which could result in some savings for the buyer.
When it comes to storage, this bad boy serves it up well. You’ll find no spinning rust here, but instead a single Seagate Firecuda 530 4TB NVMe Gen 4 drive, which offers up to 7,000 MB/s of sequential throughput at low latencies for a super-responsive feel, no matter what workload you throw at it.
With a 1000 Watt Seasonic power supply you know there’s plenty of power to feed the last crucial piece of the puzzle, the EVGA GeForce RTX 3090. We also want to mention just how glad we are to see Falcon using a rear graphics card support in this rig, so not only is there no GPU sag to be found, it’s also much safer for shipping. When we first took the Talon out of the box, we were temporarily concerned, because it didn't seem like there was anything special holding that beastly (expensive) GPU in place. The box was packaged amazingly well with layers of soft-cell foam, but it seemed there was nothing inside the case keeping the graphics card stable. But there it was; the rear of the graphics card was affixed to a bracket and sturdy rack, which held it stable. More of this please.
Letting The Falcon Fly: How We Tested
A Falcon's Vital Signs - Power Consumption, Thermals And Acoustics
While under load, we also tracked the system's thermals. The cooling in the Talon consist of a custom 280mm AIO cooler with a pair of aRGB 140mm fans attached to the radiator, a single aRGB 140mm exhaust fan, and three axial fans on its graphics card. Our results were pretty solid, all things considered...
Overall, it's a good showing for the Talon and resting thermals are solid as well, with the CPU sitting near ambient room temperature at 24°C and the GPU at the 37°C mark with its idle fan stop feature. In terms of acoustics, under a full gaming workload we measured about 43db a few inches from the side window of the case, which is also tame and respectable.
Storage Subsystem Benchmark Quick-Take
Cinebench R20 BenchmarksWith our disk speed sanity check out of the way, we can move on to assessing general system performance. The first stop is Cinebench R20. This test is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D modeling software that is used in movie production studios.
PCMark 10 System BenchmarksUL Benchmarks' suite of tests have been the go-to system benchmarks since the late ‘90s. We ran the Alienware Aurora R10 through PCMark 10, which is designed to gauge the system performance in everyday use case scenarios with GPU acceleration-enabled.
The Falcon Northwest Talon put up the second best overall score of the bunch in PCMark 10. While its performance is strong, it's not quite as strong as what we saw in our standalone Core i9-12900K review. Windows 11 should help this result, however. Once we've completed re-testing this rig post-update, we'll revisit some of these benchmark scores.
3DMark Time Spy Graphics Benchmarks
Middle Earth: Shadow Of War Game BenchmarksMiddle Earth: Shadow of War is a fun and beautiful title set in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe. To test the game's performance relative to other systems, we set the resolution to 2560x1440 and turned the visuals up to the Ultra preset.
Gaming at 4K is far more GPU bound, so the deltas separating the system are smaller here. Still, the new Core i9-12900K and custom EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 have enough horsepower to push the Talon to the top of the chart.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider BenchmarksThe finale in the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is easily the best-looking of the bunch. It's the latest installment in the series for heroin Lara Croft, driven with a revamped DX12 game engine. SotTR also supports visual effects like Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, Dynamic Foliage, Bloom shaders, Tessellation and more.
Metro Exodus Benchmarks
Falcon Northwest Intel 12th Gen Core-Themed Talon Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Find The New Falcon Northwest Talon At Falcon-NW.com
While all of the powerful gear in this rig obviously commands a premium, keep in mind that Falcon Northwest also offers a wide array of customization options. Our review system is about as high-end as they get, and it's got a customized chassis to boot. Opt for some lower end hardware and one of the standard chassis options, and the price will drop considerably. But we digress...
Overall, our experience with this system was very satisfying right from the get to -- from the opening of the double boxed packaging, to the multiple layers of soft-cell protective foam, to the clear, concise set instructions for newcomers. The Talon's immaculate custom cabling job and bracket-secured graphics card are more of those little touches that really add to the premium experience. In fact, the Talon's chassis is so well-constructed it makes many aftermarket options feel cheap in comparison. Yes, the internals consist mostly off-the-shelf parts, but they're assembled and cable managed with such care that everything seems like a perfect fit.
The only concern with this system is going to echo our earlier complaints from our coverage of the previous-gen Talon, and that's its lack of custom water cooling options. The included 280MM AIO is nice, with tasteful aRGB rings around the fans and a prominent Falcon Northwest logo on the CPU pump/block, and it performs well too. This system's thermals were good, but when you're looking for an exotic high-end boutique system like this, some users might want a custom hardline cooling option as well.
Regardless, if you're willing to throw down the cash for a Falcon Northwest Talon -- our top-end, custom config costs a cool $6,795 -- you'll be treated to a premium experience from beginning to end. In short, if you're considering a high-end pre-built gaming PC in these crazy times that aren't exactly conducive to building your own, Falcon Northwest's new Talon is a fantastic option that's attractive and highly customizable.