Falcon Northwest Talon 2023 Review – Featuring the Intel Core i7-14700K
The Talon, Refined
It has been a couple of years since we last looked at a Talon desktop, the flagship model in the Falcon Northwest lineup. We were sent a very impressive configuration, as usual, fully loaded with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition, 96GB of fast DDR5, and a PCIe Gen5 SSD; but the CPU at its heart is of particular interest.
The featured component in this Talon, and the reason for launching our review today, is of course the new Intel 14th Gen processor mentioned in the title – the Intel Core i7-14700K. That’s right, the Core i7. Why not go with the Core i9-14900K? Because the Core i7 is a lot more interesting with this launch, as the i9-14900K is basically the i9-13900KS all over again (and we just re-tested one in our FragBox 2023 review).
By now you have probably read (or watched) independent coverage of Intel’s 14th Gen processor launch, and the sentiment leading up to this has been… less than enthusiastic. Meteor Lake – Intel’s next big thing – did not end up as the desktop architecture (this gen, anyhow), so we are left with a refresh of 13th Gen parts.
As mentioned, the Intel Core i7-14700K is the most compelling part of this launch, and this part is called out on Intel’s slide (above) for having “more E-cores & larger L3 cache” compared to previous-gen. We will take our first look at its performance a bit later in this review.
The Updated Talon Design
The Talon has undergone some subtle, yet important, changes since we last reviewed one in 2021, including an increase in overall size thanks to the massive growth in GPUs.
The Talon enclosure measures 19 inches high, 17 inches deep, and 8.8 inches wide. The new enclosure size also allows for compatibility with larger EEB workstation motherboards like the ASUS Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI II and W790E-SAGE SE, both of which are offered as configuration options.
A glance at the back of the case reveals the most obvious addition to this new Talon design, as there is now an 80mm intake fan on the rear, positioned above what would previously have been expansion slots blanks. This fan allows for additional air to be directed to the intake fans on the GPU.
Moving to the interior, we have our first look at the best build quality in the industry. Truly, this is as good as a PC build gets. Hardcore DIY enthusiasts, take notes. Every cable is perfectly routed, flexed, and secured.
The sleeved CableMod cables complete the look, and the attention to detail is downright obsessive. Just look at that ATX cable!
As Falcon Northwest PCs are all configured to order, our test system is just one example of what can be done within this stout little mid tower enclosure. Here is the rundown of the components in our sample:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-14700K
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition
- Motherboard: ASUS Strix Z790-E Gaming WiFi
- Memory: 96GB (2x48GB) Kingston FURY Renegade DDR5-6400 CL32
- Storage: 2TB Crucial T700 PCI-E 5.0 SSD
- Power Supply: Seasonic Vertex GX 1200W (with CableMod cables)
- Operating System: Windows 11 Pro (22H2)
While Raptor Lake refresh is just as the name indicates, a refresh and not a new product line, as mentioned above there is still a notable difference in the middle of the unlocked desktop CPU lineup. Compared to last year’s Core i7-13700K, the Core i7-14700K adds four E-cores, bringing its total core count to 20 (8P+12E), up from 16 (8P+8E). The Core i7-14700K can hit Turbo speeds of 5.5 GHz on its P-cores (up to 5.6 GHz via Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0), and 4.3 GHz on its E-cores.
When was the last time you saw 33 MB of L3 cache?
Intel did not officially raise memory speeds with 14th Gen (still DDR5-5600), but Falcon Northwest offers DDR5-6000 RAM by default, and our build included a pair of 48GB DDR5-6400 CL32 modules from Kingston – a 96GB FURY Renegade kit that performed flawlessly at its rated speed and timings throughout testing.
A quick note on the brief look at performance to follow: we do not yet have an AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D to test, so let’s just compare Intel processors. We just re-tested the Core i9-13900KS with DDR5-6200 CL32 memory, and have been testing the new Core i9-14900K on the same system. Let’s see how these Intel Core i9 and Core i7 processors fare in the CPU and GPU tests to follow:
Clearly, the Intel Core i9-13900KS and Core i9-14900K are very evenly matched, with a slight edge going to the new part. The 20-core Core i7-14700K falls a little behind the 24-core processors in these workloads, as expected, and the lower single-threaded score in Cinebench is easily explained by the lower single-core frequencies from this part. If you want 6 GHz, you need a Core i9.
What about some gaming workload testing? The frustrating thing about testing CPUs for scaling is that unrealistic methods need to be employed. Be it lighter synthetic tests such as 3DMark Time Spy, or the dreaded low-resolution, low detail game benchmarks. I can’t bring myself to benchmark an RTX 4090 at 1080/low (or 720/anything), so a slightly more sane 1080/high was used.
If we can infer anything from tests like those shown above, the new Core i9-14900K is a faster gaming part than the mighty Core i9-13900KS, though the Core i7-14700K is not far behind. And this is in the exaggerated, unrealistic scenario in which you buy a system with an RTX 4090 and then game a 1080p. Once we move up to 2560×1440 and higher, CPU scaling starts to disappear in all but the most CPU-bound titles.
As to power consumption with this new Core i7 processor, it is quite a departure (based on so much experience with Core i9 processors lately) to see loads typically under 250 watts, and package temps under 85 C.
The primary difference are the lower clocks (5.5 GHz), and in general the Core i7 doesn’t present any thermal challenge to the Talon’s 280 mm liquid cooler. No throttling! Speaking of thermals, the RTX 4090 FE, directly fed with fresh air via that small intake fan, was very well behaved, with a max temp just under 80 C after extended gaming load testing. These parts have a thermal limit of 83 C, so there was zero throttling.
Another change from the last Falcon Northwest system we checked out is the move to a PCI-E 5.0 SSD, with none other than the ultra fast Crucial T700 handling OS duties. This is an upgrade over the standard PCIe Gen4 option, and as you can see it can provide some impressive numbers:
Falcon Northwest originated the prebuilt gaming PC in 1992, and they are still configuring them, one at a time, with unmatched attention to detail, three decades later. And no, they aren’t cheap. Falcon Northwest is a private company in Oregon, and part of the price of the system goes to pay for labor and the overhead of a domestic operation. Yes, you can buy the parts and put together a similar system in your own case for less money, but that’s not the point.
The Talon starts at $3643 USD, and it can be configured with your choice of AMD or Intel processors on both desktop and workstation platforms. The price includes what is arguably the highest quality mid-tower case in the world, a bespoke design itself worth a chunk of change, and every component in the case is top-notch. Falcon Northwest will never be a budget brand, but if you can afford it, there is no greater treat than unboxing one for yourself and seeing just how premium a gaming PC can be, inside and out. Even the packaging is second to none.
At this point the review sounds like an ad, so I’ll stop gushing.
Bottom line, the Talon is a nearly flawless system, and you definitely get your money’s worth – though it is quite expensive compared to a DIY build. If I had to nitpick anything, it would be that the 80 mm intake fan on the back interferes with potential expansion, though I understand why it’s there. It is optional, so if you are going to populate additional PCI-E slots it doesn’t have to interfere, and I daresay that, aside from the GPU, the majority of ATX systems have no PCI-E expansion cards. I’m the weirdo that still uses things like PCIe sound and video capture cards, but external solutions dominate the market.
If I were to buy a prebuilt system right now, it would be the Talon. I loved the FragBox, and I’m (obviously) quite taken with Falcon Northwest as a company based on my interactions with both the people and hardware. The only way they convince me to deviate from the Talon is to bring the Mach V back. Preferably in beige.
For unmatched craftsmanship, we bestow our highest honor upon the Falcon Northwest Talon.
As to the Intel Core i7-14700K itself, well, it has more E-cores than last time and we are happy that we finally got to test an i7 again. I’m not sure that’s an award level. If pressed, I would give it an (unprecedented) “more E-cores” award.