Falcon Northwest FragBox (2023): The ultimate high-performance gaming laptop
|Falcon Northwest FragBox SFF Gaming PC: $5,489 (As Tested)
The Falcon Northwest FragBox takes the crown as the fastest prebuilt PC we’ve tested to date, even with its relatively small and portable form factor.
The FragBox dates back several decades, with Falcon Northwest’s marketing materials proudly displaying images of the FragBox in PC hardware magazines from the early 2000s. Despite this history, we’ve somehow never reviewed one of these systems during our similarly lengthy publication run. That said, we’ve reviewed and given away several versions of Falcon Northwest’s Tiki and Talon gaming rigs. Having been impressed with these systems over the years, we were eager to finally get our hands on a FragBox for review.
Falcon Northwest FragBox features and specifications
FragBox makes a good impression right from the start, and comes in a large, well-packaged box to protect it from being damaged during transport. The system also comes with a manual and a checklist that walks through Falcon Northwest’s entire hardware and software installation and setup process prior to shipment.
When carrying the system by the handle for an extended period of time, the metal edges tend to dig into your hand, quickly making it an uncomfortable experience. Fortunately, the FragBox is still relatively light for a desktop PC at 27 pounds, making lifting the box by the handle and then carrying it in your arms fairly effortless. This level of portability makes us want to seek out LAN parties, whereas our heavy and unwieldy full-size tower PCs don’t.
Above the Falcon Northwest logo and to the left we find a power button, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port. We appreciate that the FragBox has a selection of different ports on the front for easy access. While many manufacturers are moving to USB Type-C as a universal standard, many useful accessories and devices, especially in the PC gaming space, still use USB Type-A and aux ports.
Aside from the ports, Falcon Northwest hides some bling on the back of the FragBox in the form of a specially polished plate bearing the buyer’s name. We’d also like to point out the nifty little thumbscrews that secure the side and top panels to the case. These fixing screws are integrated into the panels with metal holders that hold the screws when they are loosened, so you can’t misplace them. We love nice little details like this.
Removing the top panel we find Falcon Northwest’s custom all-in-one (AIO) CPU water cooler. This cooler also does double duty, pushing hot air driven by the PNY RTX 4090’s fans up and out of the case. During our testing, we found that the 280mm radiator and dual fans were sufficient to cool the power-hungry CPU and GPU and prevent thermal throttling, which is quite impressive given the FragBox’s small form factor.
This type of direct access to a component that is often upgraded during a PC’s lifetime makes the system more buyer-friendly. That said, if the growth in the size of graphics cards continues, you may not be able to fit an upgraded GPU through the access window that comes with it. The sleeves on some vendors’ graphics cards are already so large that we’re afraid they’ll turn out to fit very well into the FragBox.
Meanwhile, the right side of the FragBox is quite roomy, with the microATX motherboard leaving quite a bit of space near the front of the case. In addition, the choice of a water cooler rather than a large heatsink and fan tower means that the power supply can sit almost directly above the CPU. The power cables are also dimensioned and routed well so that they do not take up excess space. Fortunately, the FragBox came packed with plenty of extra cables for those looking to add drives or replace components and reroute the cables.
With that said, let’s fire up the FragBox and see what it can do…