In the many years of looking at different computer systems from manufacturers, we have never received one that was shipped as though it was meant for a Top Secret installation for the government, that all changed this week with the arrival of the Blackbird 002 high performance computer system from Hewlett Packard. Opening up the Metal roadie case showed us why so much care was given in getting us this computer system. The Blackbird 002 took our breaths away as we lifted the case and saw the design unlike any HP system we have ever seen. Our tagline for this article refers to the Blackbird 002 as "Design and Super power for the Ultimate Rig." We are almost tempted to change the quote to Ultimate Gamers Rig however this system can be used to accomplish just about any task for the PC. Relegating it to just a gamer machine would take away from it.
The creation of the Blackbird 002 came from the minds of both HP gamers and engineers and the staff at HP's VoodooPC Company. Its design and feel seem to answer many of the demands that gamers have asked for with high end gaming in mind. The large footprint case is the easiest we have ever had to get into and with that, upgrades and modifications are a breeze. The panel on the side of the Blackbird 002 swings open providing easy access to the Asus Stryker Extreme 680i motherboard in the unit we tested. The revolutionary liquid cooling system keeps the system running at top performance with optimal temperatures but also running quietly. The liquid cooling is factory sealed which means that users will never have to service the system themselves. Thermal fins on the memory chips as well as an impressive design on the braided cables aid in even better cooling control. The board itself sits in what HP calls a thermal chamber to isolate left over heat building in a central area. The airflow on the case which features micro vents on all 6 sides also is a design feature that can help keep the system performing at its peak.
With the side door open, another panel can be breached to gain access to the graphics system. Our system packed two of the ATI X2900 XT boards in Crossfire mode with 1GB of GDDR4 SDRAM. In our test with Orange Box and Unreal Tournament 3, there was no lag and we saw gameplay as the game designers had intended. Having the 2GB of 1066Mhz Corsair PC2-8500 was an added bonus. The system over all is powered by an Intel Core 2 Extreme Quad Core 3.0GHz QX6850 processor. What else could HP toss at us to bless this system? A needed 1000watt power supply to power all the components was designed at the bottom rear of the case, a pleasant change from the typical power cord blocking the back panels of a system. We also were in awe of the massive storage capabilities with 5 removable bays, one holding a 750GB 7200 rpm SATA drive, another the 160GB 10000rpm SATA drive. This presented us with the possibility of having 5 terabytes of storage on the Blackbird, and that is just on the main system! The back panel of the unit features 2 E-Sata slots for adding SATA external drives. A slim slot loading optical DVD writer was also in the system as well as a Blu Ray drive in a 5 ¼ bay that was hidden by a front panel.
For connecting to the Blackbird 002, users will find a very design friendly top loading 15 in 1 card reader, 2 USB ports, 1394 and headphone and microphone jack. That panel can be lowered into the unit when not in use. For rear panel connectivity, users will find a wide range of possible connections including 2 gigabit Ethernet ports, Spdif and digital audio out, 1394, the two eSATA ports we noted earlier, 4 USB ports and the standard PS2 mouse and keyboard ports for those still wanting a touch of the old school!
An ADI integrated 7.1 sound card was well labeled for connecting your audio speaker system. We also like the LCD lit panel at the back of the system that allowed a visual post of the system start and operation.
The system shipped with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and can be configured with other options. That would be the key in building yourself a system such as the Blackbird002, customization! In terms of hardware, the system has all the features to handle, at this point, any game title we could toss at it, however system tweakers will enjoy an open bios system for clocking and pushing the envelope of this Blackbird 002. The cast aluminum chassis is not light to say the least; however the looks are something you won't be hiding away. Make sure you have enough desk space and the Blackbird 002 from HP will be your main system for years to come. For more information take a look at http://www.hp.com/blackbird and our photo gallery at http://www.techtalkradio.com/photos/blackbird.htm
We talked with Greg Vederman from HP on the system and what it can do, how it can be customized and how it all came together.
Click here to watch our video from
Tech Tuesday where we look at the BlackBird002
Check out the photo gallery of photos with the Blackbird
on the Tech Bench