In the Forums...
Posted: September 11, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Tweak3D: What companies do you currently consider the biggest competitors to Falcon Northwest?
Kelt: That's easy: Dell, Dell, and Dell. They don't even pretend to make gaming PCs, but they do make a solid PC at a great price. For people who just want a solid business machine, we even recommend them.
Tweak3D: As I was browsing your website, I saw no mention of AMD's new Athlon series of processor - which is thought to be the fastest mainstream CPU on the planet. Is this due to supply problems or some other consideration? Doesn't this put you at a disadvantage when dealing with companies that are already incorporating such processors into their systems?
Kelt: We're already way ahead of most people on this one, but we're still under NDA from AMD on the very advanced systems we have already done. They have all shipped only for magazine reviews, and you'll see what I'm talking about in December issues. As for main line production PCs, you'll see an announcement from us very soon. Right now the CPUs aren't the problem, it's lack of Athlon motherboard support. Currently, MicroStar is the only actual shipping Athlon board - not much of a selection. Several others are announced, and obviously lots of system integrators have announced things too. At Falcon we do things a bit differently in that we actually wait until we get products in and test them all before announcing who we're going with. But you are certainly correct in saying Athlon is the fastest. As soon as we have the fastest motherboard to accompany it, we'll make a formal announcement. It should only be a couple more days.
Tweak3D: In the FAQ (from the website), it states that you can't duplicate the performance of a Mach V system simply by putting together a computer that has identical components. Are you referring to specially configuring each system, or something else entirely?
Kelt: Several vendors have tried "cloning" us, but they lost in the head to heads too. A PC has hundreds of variables that affect performance, and what the components actually are only a few of those variables. We've been doing this a long, long time, and we know how to get the most out of the hardware. Obviously starting with the best ingredients is important, but I liken this to handing the best food ingredients to a world class chef and a to short order cook. Even with the same recipe, you're going to get much better results from someone who knows how to cook them.
Tweak3D: What kind of customizations do you have to make your systems come out ahead of the pack?
Kelt: As I had mentioned earlier, the 3dfx Falcon Special Edition is one way. nVidia & Guillemot have also done a Falcon Northwest Special Edition TnT2 card. It's got special 4.3ns memory, a faster than standard chip, heatsinks on the memory, and some other special tweaks. Other than products especially made for Falcon like those, it's just good old-fashioned technical expertise and rigorous testing. Of course, carrying only the highest quality components makes a big difference. We don't overclock anything, so being able to push a component to its "legal" limit reliably is very important to us.