There’s nothing cooler than this PC gaming playmate
What if your desktop PC was as portable as that old Playmate cooler in the garage? A compact box complete with a handle on top, perfect for toting your system anywhere life takes you (as long as life takes you to places that have a power outlet and space for a monitor, keyboard, and mouse)?
Watch our video review on YouTube! Embedded below for your convenience! (Watch it as many times as you can, on as many devices as you can.)
Some FragBox History
While introduced way back in 2003, it was the second version of the FragBox that really defined the product. In 2004 the FragBox 2 was “the world’s first Small Form Factor (SFF) PC that used only industry-standard, easily upgradeable components”. The category has evolved over time to become ever smaller – with a number of shoebox-sized enclosures popular in the DIY space – but this was a major milestone back then.
Gordon Mah Ung was impressed with the FragBox 2 back in 2004, and thankfully Intel never made another hot, power hungry CPU like Prescott…oh wait
The FragBox has remained in the Falcon Northwest lineup, evolving over time to embrace modern trends like eliminating the 5.25-inch bay, and combining tiny SFX-L power supplies with car-sized GPUs. But this 2023 version still retains the DNA from the 2004 FragBox 2 (I did a blood test).
The FragBox – A Practical Design Inside and Out
Measuring 9.5 inches tall (including the handle), 10.5 inches wide, and just over 16 inches deep (including thumbscrews), the FragBox fits its components into a chamber that measures a bit smaller – 8.5 inches (H) x 10.5 inches (W) x 15.9 inches (D). Our sample, fully equipped, weighed 26 lbs, 5 oz.
As the mATX motherboard is installed horizontally on the floor of the enclosure, the graphics card is vertical without the use of any risers. A pair of slim intake fans feed the GPU cool air at all times (even when the GPU is in zero-RPM idle mode), and there are filters on both side intakes. (I really encourage you to watch the video review. So many images – 30 per second, as a matter of fact!)
Warm air exits the top of the case, so natural convection is on your side. Speaking of the top of the case, this is where the 280 mm AiO liquid cooler resides.
Specs and Pricing
Here’s a look at the specs from our particular build:
While we had an Intel system, the Fragbox can be configured with both AMD and Intel processors. The AMD systems are based on an ASUS PRIME B650M-A AX II WIFI board, and I really think a system with a Ryzen 7 7800X3D would make a lot of sense for gaming, but we will focus on our high-end Intel version here, as this is what we tested.
Standard components for all Intel configurations currently include an ASUS TUF Gaming B760M-Plus WiFi motherboard, SilverStone SX SFX-L Platinum 1000 watt power supply, 32GB of Kingston FURY Beast 6000 MT/s DDR5 memory, a 2TB Kingston FURY Renegade Gen4 NVMe SSD, and the 280 mm liquid cooler that Falcon Northwest borrowed from their Talon desktop.
Processor options include four SKUs from Intel’s current 13th Gen offering, ranging from the Core i5-13600K (standard) up to the Core i9-13900KS (a $633 upgrade). Falcon Northwest is proud of the thermal design with this FragBox, and didn’t hesitate to equip our test system with that red-hot 13900KS. A brave choice!
Video card options include mostly GPUs from NVIDIA, though AMD is represented as well. The system comes standard with a GeForce RTX 4060, but this can be upgraded all the way to a GeForce RTX 4090 FE (a $1520 upgrade). The system can also be configured with a Radeon RX 7900 XTX (a $774 upgrade over standard). If you need a workstation card, the FragBox can also be configured with up to an RTX 6000 Ada 48GB.
To configure a FragBox exactly as reviewed is currently just under $5300 USD. And before leaving any comments, offering a total DIY build cost for comparison is difficult right now as the Core i9-13900KS seems to be out of stock everywhere now (‘new’ units were selling on eBay for $949-$999 at last report) as 14th Gen processors are right around the corner. The RTX 4090 is also tough to find at its $1599 MSRP (the PNY model in our test system has a $1650 MSRP).
Rounding to the nearest $5, add another $180 for the motherboard, $300 for the 1000W Platinum SFX-L power supply, $150 for the NVMe SSD, $100 for the memory, around $200 for a premium 280 mm AiO liquid cooler, another $15 for for the Kingpin KPx thermal paste FalconNW uses, and, probably forgetting something, for bare components we are at ~$3545 before adding an OS. Oh, and we still need a case.
Can you buy a case to rival the custom FragBox enclosure?
First, some ground rules: the case must be micro-ATX compatible (not mini-ITX only), integrate a handle, and offer a premium design/construction. The most obvious parallel in the DIY space (as far as I can tell) is the Sliger Cerberus at $245. This is a MicroATX case with a handle, but it has no RTX 40 Series compatibility listed, and does not appear suitable for the RTX 4090 based on my research.
Bottom line, do not underestimate the value of Falcon Northwest’s enclosures, as these are fully custom designs and made with high quality materials such as extruded aluminum. They are very costly to develop and produce, and you can’t get them anywhere else (or buy them separately)!
Ok, so maybe the enclosure nerd in me places greater value on the case than most people would, but Falcon Northwest has the nicest enclosures in the business. It would be hard to settle for less, but any DIY build would have to.
I will provide a few screenshots below, but this won’t go very heavily into system performance. Why? Because there are no surprises here. If you know these components – Core i9-13900KS, GeForce RTX 4090 – then you already know how they perform. The FragBox is so well ventilated that the enclosure isn’t going to hold back performance, though this is a compact system.
Without tweaking any settings, and with fan curves left at Falcon Northwest’s defaults, the Intel Core i9-13900KS was doing that insane 320+ watt desktop processor thing (hitting over 350 watts at times), and still maintaining the ultra high clocks of this pre-overclocked specimen. The Core i9-13900KS is a ridiculous product, but it’s still very impressive. Toasty, but impressive. (We go in-depth into the thermal characteristics of this CPU in the video.)
As to the GPU, our system’s NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 was a PNY model, the XLR8 Gaming VERTO EPIC-X RGB, and this produced results typical for this GPU, while remaining very quiet. Those slim intake fans are a great idea for today’s monster GPUs. In a 24 – 25 C room this graphics card never exceeded 70 C, which is especially impressive considering both the compact enclosure and the low noise output.
Speaking of noise, the highest reading I could get from my SPL meter, positioned just 12 inches away from the FragBox, was 42.5 dBA during a punishing Blender multi-core workload that pushed all of the CPU cores to 100%. Gaming was well below this (sub-40 dBA), and I only really noticed system noise during those all-core Core i9-13900KS benchmarks.
Sure, you can build a much smaller system (and FalconNW has the slim Tiki in the SFF category), but this is that rare compact PC that isn’t based on mini-ITX – built instead on a standard micro-ATX motherboard. Personally, I love the added flexibility of mATX, as it allows simultaneous use of, say, a discrete GPU and a PCIe capture card, for instance (not that I have designs on this as a streaming PC or anything).
If you just looked at the specs of our review sample (Intel Core i9-13900KS, GeForce RTX 4090, etc.), you might be surprised that a system as powerful as this can be carried around like a playmate cooler at the beach. The design of the FragBox – both external and internal – is practical, and flawlessly executed.
Pricing is always a sticking point when discussing prebuilt systems on a predominantly DIY enthusiast website like this, but when you look around at the offerings from various system integrators, you start to realize how special the FragBox is. And while it doesn’t have the fancy CableMod cables and stunning presentation that Falcon Northwest’s Talon can provide, the FragBox costs hundreds less for a complementary configuration, so for pure gaming it’s a relative bargain.
If you’re in the market for a prebuilt gaming rig, and you want a compact system without any of the compromises mini-ITX systems often have to make, you can’t do better than the FragBox. Not everyone needs a system this powerful, but you can configure one to your liking. Falcon Northwest provides a premium experience all the way – and you won’t find a better warranty or more dedicated customer service in the business. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product was on loan from Falcon Northwest for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product is being returned to Falcon Northwest.
Falcon Northwest had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation
Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Falcon Northwest for this review.
Falcon Northwest has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
If this article contains affiliate links to online retailers, PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.