Falcon Northwest FragBox (2023): the ultimate high-performance portable gaming PC
|Falcon Northwest FragBox SFF Gaming Computer: $5,489 (as tested)
The Falcon Northwest FragBox takes the crown as the fastest pre-built PC we’ve tested to date, even with its relatively small and portable form factor.
The FragBox dates back decades, with Falcon Northwest marketing materials proudly displaying images of the FragBox in hardware magazines from the early 2000s. Despite this history, we’ve somehow never reviewed one of these systems during the same duration of our publication. That said, we have reviewed and distributed several versions of Falcon Northwest’s Tiki and Talon gaming rigs. After being 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
The FragBox makes a good impression right off the bat, arriving in a large, well-packaged box that should protect it from any damage in transit. The system also comes with a manual and checklist that walks through the entire process of installing and configuring Falcon Northwest hardware and software before shipping.
When carrying the system by the handle for an extended period, the metal edges tend to dig into your hand, quickly making it an uncomfortable experience. Thankfully, the FragBox is still relatively light for a desktop PC at 27 pounds, making it simple enough to lift the box by the handle and then carry it in your arms. This level of portability makes us want to seek out LAN parties, unlike our heavy and unwieldy full-size tower PCs.
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 like 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 the universal standard, many useful accessories and devices, especially in the PC gaming space, still use USB Type-A and auxiliary ports.
Besides the ports, Falcon Northwest hides a bit of bling on the back of the FragBox in the form of a custom 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 captive screws are built into the panels with metal retainers that hold the screws when loosened so you can’t misplace them. We love neat little touches like this.
Removing the top panel, we find Falcon Northwest’s custom all-in-one (AIO) CPU water cooler. This cooler also performs a dual function, pushing hot air powered by the PNY RTX 4090’s fans up and out of the case. In our testing, we found the 280mm radiator and twin fans to be enough to cool the power-hungry CPU and GPU and prevent thermal throttling, which is pretty impressive considering the small form factor. of the FragBox.
This kind of direct access to a commonly upgraded component over the life of a PC makes the system more buyer-friendly. That said, if the growth in graphics card sizes continues, you may not be able to install an upgraded GPU through the access window provided. Some vendors’ graphics card shrouds are already so big that we’re concerned they won’t fit the FragBox very well.
Meanwhile, the right side of the FragBox is quite spacious, with the microATX motherboard leaving some room near the front of the case. Additionally, the choice of a water cooler over a large heatsink and fan tower allows the power supply to sit almost directly above the CPU. The power cables are also sized and well routed so as not to take up too much space. Luckily, the FragBox comes with plenty of extra cables for those who want to add drives or swap out components and reroute cables.
That said, let’s fire up the FragBox and see what it can do…