Falcon Northwest Tiki (2022) Review – Featuring the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
The Tiniest Prebuilt Powerhouse Gets AMD’s Fastest Gaming CPU
Before getting into today’s Falcon Northwest Tiki review, I’ll mention that this very day marks the beginning of official retail availability for AMD’s new Ryzen 7 5800X3D, the first CPU with the AMD exclusive 3D V-cache technology that has been called the “new gaming champion”, among other accolades. Sure, you could order one (depending on stock levels) on its own, but what better way to get your hands one one than inside of one of Falcon Northwest’s ultra-compact gaming PCs? Come on. We’ve lived through a couple of rough years, so let’s throw caution to the wind.
We haven’t looked at a Tiki system here at PC Perspective since July 2018, when some guy named Ken reviewed one. This marks my first hands-on experience with a Tiki, and not only does this 2022 version offer the latest and greatest in system components when you configure one, but the enclosure design has evolved quite significantly since 2018, as well (more on the current higher-airflow iteration in a bit).
A Very Compact Desktop
Of course, I knew going into this review that the Tiki was small – it’s the mini-ITX model in Falcon Northwest’s lineup, after all – but I didn’t expect it to be quite this small. The system is housed in a case that is just 4 inches wide, and essentially 13 x 13 inches in height and depth (slightly more when factoring the base and rear protrusions). This makes for a genuinely small form-factor tower, and I didn’t realize just how little space it occupies until I placed it on my own desk.
I’ll stop right here for the DIY enthusiast who may have stopped by this prebuilt system review, and respond in advance to the comment: yes, there are smaller mITX cases if you are trying to build a tiny desktop, yourself. However, in the world of prebuilt desktops the Tiki is the smallest option that I’m aware of. And it isn’t just tiny, it’s a full-blown gaming machine with standard, enthusiast-level components within.
Yes, the Dan Cases A4-SFX exists, and is even available to buy as I write this (depending on where you live). And there have been others – often crowdfunded and without wide availability. A while back (three years ago, apparently) I experimented with a “console-size” case called the Sentry 2.0, but there were tradeoffs to consider, such as the inability to use a liquid cooler for the CPU without sacrificing full-length GPU support.
Falcon Northwest’s Tiki is just big enough to allow for the ideal combination of a high-power, full-length GPU and small-form factor components in as little space as possible.
The interior of the 2022 Tiki (image via Falcon Northwest)
Tiki 2022 Design
As mentioned above, the Tiki case has undergone a revision for this generation, with a big emphasis on cooling. You won’t be able to tell by looking at the system from the front like this, as it remains a solid panel adorned with the lighted Falcon Northwest logo which comes standard (infinite options are available for custom artwork, as this is a Falcon Northwest system we’re talking about).
If you doubt the above ventilation claim, just look at the below image, created from two frames of a cool animation too large to successfully incorporate into this web page without applying a lot of compression:
“A decade ago, we designed a PC unlike anything the world had ever seen. We destroyed the notion that powerful PCs had to be big, hulking towers. We reduced the size of the PC to its absolute minimum. We made Tiki quiet. We made it beautiful.
Now for 2022, we’ve completely reworked Tiki to once again support the fastest graphics cards and CPUs, in both Intel & AMD versions. The latest Intel 12th Generation “Alder Lake” with a Core-i9 & DDR5 memory is perfect for enthusiasts & gamers, and so power-efficient we can air-cool it. For more CPU-intensive content creation, Tiki supports AMD processors up to the flagship 16-core Ryzen 9s. And all this new power is packed in without altering the look or exterior dimensions that have made Tiki so popular.”
There are many vents on the outer panels of the Tiki, with the upper half of the enclosure in particular designed to cool the hottest, most power-hungry GPUs out there (yes, you can configure an RTX 3090 in a Tiki – though the 3090 Ti is not currently an option, possibly due to excessive thicc-ness).
There are vents everywhere they are needed on the side panels, and both the top panel and the rear panel are about as open as possible. The only solid areas are the front – which looks like a miniature Talon – and the base.
Tiki 2022 Interior and Review Configuration
There is only one removable panel on the Tiki, and upon the removal of two captive thumbscrews full access to the interior is available. One thing I noticed immediately – this Tiki has a thick, sturdy construction. It has a premium look a feel, is quite rigid, and is surprisingly heavy. No flimsy rolled metal here.
Right away you can see the tiered component chamber design, with the PSU and motherboard on the lower half, and graphics card on the upper half, connected to the motherboard via a ribbon cable. The system’s 120 mm CLC liquid cooler is attached to the side panel via four screws, and I left it in place for these photos.
Here’s a high-level list of system specs:
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor
- 64GB DDR4-3600 memory
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card
- 4TB NVMe SSD
- 1000W power supply
Next we will take a much more comprehensive look at the system components, in a section that I think I will call “A Comprehensive Look at System Components”.
A Comprehensive Look at System Components
As you may have gleaned by now, our Tiki review unit was outfitted with AMD’s brand new Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor, installed in an ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming motherboard running the latest AGESA microcode (BIOS 2603, AGESA V2 PI 220.127.116.11b).
There is a total of 64GB (2x32GB) of Kingston FURY Renegade RGB DDR4-3600 memory installed, and these are dual-rank modules with timings of 18-22-22-39 at 1.35V (the kit is part number KF436C18RBAK2/64). Storage is provided via a huge – and very fast – 4TB Seagate FireCuda 530 PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD (model ZP4000GM30013). More on this drive later, as it is a beast.
Graphics acceleration is provided by an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition card, with a SilverStone SX1000-LPT SFX-L power supply feeding the system up to a continuous 1000 watts of 80 Plus Platinum efficiency power. The Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor is cooled via an Asetek 550LC 120 mm liquid cooler, paired with a SilverStone Air Slimmer 120 fan (model CC12015H12S, if you’re curious).
The enclosure also supports up to two 2.5-inch drives, or a single 3.5-inch drive, on the bracket in front of the PSU. This bracket was not populated in our review configuration. I’ll also mention that Falcon Northwest did their usual outstanding job of cable management inside the Tiki, ensuring minimal visibility in a system without the benefit of much extra room for cable routing (and they did it inside a system with solid side panels, no less).
Before moving on, I always like to point out thoughtful design details, and within the Tiki the GPU is very securely mounted thanks to a metal bracket:
It may not seem like a big thing, but it’s nice to know that your GPU isn’t going to move a millimeter during the perils of ground shipping that it must endure on its way to your door. Plus, with GPU riser installation like this, keeping the card (and thus the riser’s somewhat delicate ribbon cable) from moving is a good idea.
Finally, I thought it was interesting that the power connector protrudes quite a bit beyond the rear panel, and this is easily explained as its exterior location provides needed clearance inside the the case, preventing interference with the motherboard.
This detail also serves to illustrate just how minimal the internal volume of this chassis design is, with very little available space beyond the system components. Fitting an entire system into a 13x13x4 box is not easy. Heck, I’ve handled motherboard boxes that size.
Our review unit is one of the fastest configurations for gaming that you can get, with arguably the best gaming CPU right now in the new Ryzen 7 5800X3D. The RTX 3080 Ti in our system is not the fastest available option, with an EVGA XC3 RTX 3090 available as a $231 upgrade when configuring (not to mention the workstation GPUs available, up to an RTX A6000), but it’s plenty fast already.
Now, it wouldn’t be a hardware review without some mention of the performance one can expect from the components involved, though with prebuilt systems I tend to focus less on such things unless there is an issue somewhere, as individual component performance is generally known. For example, the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition card in our Tiki sample performs exactly like … an RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition card. This seems simplistic, perhaps, but there is no thermal or power issue limiting its performance in this system, so this reference card (sorry – Founders Edition) performs as expected. (More on thermals later in this section.)
I have spent a considerable amount of time testing the system’s AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor, and subsequently re-testing our Ryzen 7 5800X processor, and the benchmarks simply validated what everyone has been saying about this new CPU since the embargo was lifted for those lucky reviewers on April 14th. Even with the small reduction in clock speeds, the tremendous pool of L3 cache – a staggering 96 MB – more than makes up for this frequency disparity in most cases, all while enhancing the 5800X3D’s gaming performance.
One more thing in this verbose introduction: our Tiki arrived with Windows 11 preloaded, and while Falcon Northwest provides clean, bloat-free OS installations (with a very convenient USB recovery stick that re-images the factory install), for comparison purposes with existing benchmark results on file we installed Windows 10 Professional 21H2 before testing. You may leave your objections to this in the comment section, below.
CPU and GPU
Processor performance with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is excellent, and while this is not the forum for the large scale CPU performance review I have been working on involving AMD’s newest chip, you can at least enjoy these results. Because, after all, what else would anyone do with such a system than run generic, soulless benchmarks like Cinebench?
And, for good measure, here’s a Blender Classroom CPU cycles render result (it average nearly the same 7m 41s result in each of three runs):
But applications such as Cinebench and Blender are not what this new Ryzen CPU was made for. AMD’s spin on the 5800X3D has been about gaming, first and foremost. So, naturally, we will next look at some potentially relevant synthetic numbers from 3DMark:
I promise that, time permitting, some charts with comparative data will be published on this website.
There is a lot more to the story than Ryzen 7 5800X3D performance, and of course the RTX 3080 Ti FE is a known quantity, so what else is interesting here? Well, it just so happens that our rather lavish review configuration has a thousand dollar SSD as the OS drive. Let’s explore that.
The Seagate FireCuda 530 NVMe drive in our system doesn’t just offer a lot of capacity, weighing in at 4TB, but it does so with some of the fastest transfer speeds this side of a PCIe Gen4 x4 interface. Make no mistake, this drive is not for the faint of heart, or wallet; it adds $990 to the cost of the system during configuration!
So, what does the performance of a nearly $1,000 SSD look like? Keep in mind, this is a 4TB drive, and as you can see from a CrystalDiskMark 8 run, it offers performance right up there with the fastest Gen4 devices, regardless of capacity:
Here we see the drive actually exceed its rated sequential read speeds, which are listed as 7250 MB/s, though we were about 100 MB/s shy of the 6900 MB/s seq. write max. Doubtless, with some more careful testing, it would be possible to hit numbers closer to the theoretical max for writes with this 4TB model (ZP4000GM30013, PDF datasheet available here).
In fairness, the numbers shown are from a drive that had been partitioned in half to accommodate my dual-boot Win10/Win11 situation, had been in heavy use for several days with quite a bit of data being moved around, had never been issued a manual TRIM command, and no effort was made to boost benchmark scores. I’ll take it. In fact, I’ll run away with it, and never come back (NVMe drives are so easy to pocket, you know?).
Moving on to a look at thermals, I first ran the Blender Classroom workload to see how the CPU in the Tiki behaved. I was a bit concerned, honestly, that a small CLC liquid cooler like the 120 mm model in this system may have trouble keeping up with the 3D V-cache version of one of the hottest AMD CPUs I’ve ever tested (the Ryzen 7 5800X can get quite toasty), but this small liquid cooler seems more than up to the task.
During the Blender test the highest recorded core temp was 83.1 C, with a max Tdie reading of 85 C (ambient was around 18.5 C). Average core clocks hit 4375 MHz early in the test, settling down into the 4322 – 4337 MHz range for the duration of the nearly eight minute run.
For a visual example of thermals in a simulated gaming situation, I ran the venerable (as in, old) Unigine Heaven benchmark for about 90 minutes (actually closer to 95, but who’s counting), with the following results:
While a bit hard to read, the above chart does show that thermals were quite well controlled during this lengthy test, as the CPU stayed below 70 C throughout, the GPU was right at this 70 C mark, and the GPU hot spot never exceeded the 75-76 C. Overall, these numbers show that the components were behaving normally, with no thermal issues whatsoever even after 90 minutes of constant benchmarking (this was a 1080/extreme DX11 test). There was plenty of heat being expelled from the Tiki, to be sure, but this is exactly what all of that ventilation is for!
I feel like the surface of this new Tiki has barely been scratched, with deluxe components like the ridiculous SilverStone 1000W SFX-L (!) power supply barely mentioned above. Speaking of power, the entire system never exceeded 467 W from the wall during my testing, so it is possible that the PSU was overkill. (What, did they think this was an Intel system? HAHAHA…. JUST KIDDING.)
After spending some quality time with Falcon Northwest’s new 2022 version of their most compact desktop system, I can objectively report that it is a very well constructed machine with the same mix of quality components, exceptional build quality, and attention to detail that I have come to expect from Falcon Northwest. Really, this should come as no surprise as we are talking about the industry’s first gaming PC maker, which has survived for three decades now as an independent company.
How can a relatively small PC maker exist in this industry for so long? They have obviously built a reputation for both quality and great customer service, and kept their focus on building very high performance PCs. Clearly, there is a market for this.
Subjectively, I find the aesthetics of the Tiki to be very good, and there is an obvious quality to the materials and construction of the enclosure, with careful attention paid to the assembly of the system within. This enclosure design is, if I am to be critical about anything here, perhaps not quite to the level of refinement of the current Talon enclosure from Falcon Northwest, as there are a number of exposed screws on the exterior of this Tiki – but this is the definition of nitpicking.
Speaking of the enclosure, the 2022 Tiki offers fantastic thermal performance, regardless of its size. The fact that Falcon Northwest has done this well inside of a 13x13x4 inch space makes it all the more impressive, and it’s actually quiet, too! (That magical combination of ventilation and airflow…)
The elephant in the room is always the cost of such a system, though Falcon Northwest’s pricing is more reasonable than you might think, especially the higher up you go with the configuration. I have mentioned previously that upgrades can be quite reasonable as you configure these systems, but the starting price of $3208 for a Tiki, and especially the $5,357 for the Tiki as configured in this review (remember, $990 of this is just the OS drive), represent serious money.
You certainly get what you pay for, but DIY enthusiasts (not the target market, obviously) will never approve – despite things like the 3 year parts and labor warranty, lifetime tech support, effort in carefully building a custom system, paying employees, and so on…
3.5-inch floppy disk for scale
In conclusion, the 2022 Tiki is a fantastic gaming system with that perfect blend of aesthetics, quality components, superior construction, and expert assembly, that my previous experience with Falcon Northwest has conditioned me to expect. Oh, and it’s really, really small, too. This is a mini-ITX system that transcends the form-factor, and stands on its own as a fantastic, high-end desktop. The fact that all of this computing power is crammed into a 13x13x4 inch space – without compromising anything – is just icing on the cake.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Falcon Northwest for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Falcon Northwest, and is currently on extended loan for testing purposes.
Falcon Northwest had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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