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HP Blackbird Review

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  • Gaming
  • Hewlett Packard
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  • Video Games
Last response: in PC Gaming
January 24, 2008 2:16:10 PM

Article written by Rob Wright and Shelton Romhanyi.

The fruit of Hewlett-Packard and VoodooPC's labor has arrived, and it is indeed delicious. Tom's Games goes inside HP's new gaming rig, the Blackbird 002, to see how "Voodoo DNA" has gotten HP into the high-end gaming arena.

http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/01/24/hpblackbird_review/

More about : blackbird review

January 24, 2008 3:49:37 PM

For that amount of cash, you'd think they'd throw in a sound card! [/not an on-board fan]
January 24, 2008 5:05:18 PM

The article states the CPU is a QX6680, as I've never heard about that model before I checked at Intel but nothing showing up. Can anyone cast some light on this?
Related resources
January 24, 2008 5:28:15 PM

dido on the soundcard. what about expasion slots! am I blind or there are none left???
January 24, 2008 5:29:00 PM

Could be an OEM chip sold directly to HP?

Quote:
dido on the soundcard. what about expasion slots! am I blind or there are none left???


lol. I thought you said "dildo". As for expansion slots, I guess they've been consumed by the water-cooled crossfire 2900XT's. :p 
January 24, 2008 5:58:05 PM

ARG Matey! Oh wait that's Blackbeard sorry...
January 24, 2008 6:39:11 PM

One thing not spoken too is availability. The dell may be overclocked much higher but can you actually get one now at that level? The lower over-clock of the blackbird may just reflect a more honest approach to marketing what is actually available? There have been headlines about Dell shipping delays and outriht withdrawl of availability.
January 24, 2008 6:40:54 PM

. . . but maybe I'm just in love with the case and design of the Blackbird 002.
January 24, 2008 6:46:06 PM

Quote:
. . . but maybe I'm just in love with the case and design of the Blackbird 002.

I like the HDD bays.
January 24, 2008 6:48:29 PM

PCD said:
The article states the CPU is a QX6680, as I've never heard about that model before I checked at Intel but nothing showing up. Can anyone cast some light on this?


Argh, it' a frakkin' typo. Sorry guys, my bad. It's a QX6850, and the article has been fixed.
January 24, 2008 7:02:38 PM

Quote:
Argh, it' a frakkin' typo. Sorry guys, my bad. It's a QX6850, and the article has been fixed.
Ah, that makes more sense!
January 24, 2008 7:44:40 PM

Pretty cool PC but the special features really seem to be the case and the cooling. The Striker board cooling is standard but the ability to run ATI cards is special. The real problem with this system is that it is very limited in configuration. Going to the website for the blackbird to order one only allows you got a 9650 yorkfield if you buy a special configured unit. If you pick this one for 5500 then you can only get a pair of ATI2900, not even the fastest ATI cards, neither the 3850 or 3870 are available. So pick the more expensive LCi model, it is stuck with the same limit of the QX6850 and video card selection is also very limited to either 2900's or 8800GTX or Ultra's, and it comes in at 6500, for these prices you should be able to get a totally customized experiance with exactly what you want. If you go with the air cooled system then you can pick the 8800GT but still not the ATI 3870 hardware. Of course then you miss out on one of the coolest features which is the water cooling system. It would be nice to notice the big limitations of this PC with a Luxury look and price
January 24, 2008 7:45:26 PM

Quote:
. . . but maybe I'm just in love with the case and design of the Blackbird 002.

Yeah, I'd be inclined to buy the case if they sold it seperately (if I was in the market for one).

January 24, 2008 8:24:50 PM

Well...at least its pretty? :|

Too bad about the performance...
I am still curious as to choosing the 2900xt CF...doesnt make sense from a gamers stand point, let alone marketing (actually it *only* makes sense when dealing with cost..its cheaper to use than gtx's or ultras..)

Anyways gorgeous layout (dell could learn a bit from that)

Performance however...not what one would hope for that kind of money..
January 24, 2008 9:10:07 PM

DoMTaR said:
Well...at least its pretty? :|

Too bad about the performance...
I am still curious as to choosing the 2900xt CF...doesnt make sense from a gamers stand point, let alone marketing (actually it *only* makes sense when dealing with cost..its cheaper to use than gtx's or ultras..)

Anyways gorgeous layout (dell could learn a bit from that)

Performance however...not what one would hope for that kind of money..


Yes, the layout was damn sexy. In fact, it's probably the best I've ever seen. And truth be told, I was expecting the performance test numbers to be a little bit lower than they were compared to the Dell. After all, the Blackbird had a lower clock speed and a CrossFire scheme going up against the XPS with SLI. So I was pretty impressed with the numbers overall.

As for the ATI-SLI motherboard scheme, sure, I'm guessing most gamers would have preferred to see better cards in the Blackbird or SLI. But it was pretty damn cool to see that CrossFire motherboard combination -- and have it work with no issues whatsoever.
January 25, 2008 12:50:07 AM

off the shelf parts at double the cost plus a nicelookin'n'heavy case. not a good deal in my view.
January 25, 2008 3:14:12 AM

In response to a few folks that posted.

There are available slots, even with LC dual video cards. Most of the higher end versions start out with a Creative Audio Sound Blaster(R) X-Fi(TM) XtremeGamer, and even offer the Ageia Physix card. You can go ATI or NVIDIA like the Dual NVIDIA GeForce 8800 ULTRA, with 768MB of GDDR3 SDRAM (LC).

It would have been interesting to see how a more similar machine to the Dell one would have done in benchmarks.

I'd take HP's consistency of quality, and willingness to service all of the products they make over Dell's, we only support the way it was configured. Ever try and upgrade the OS on a Dell and find yourself hunting for hours only to find out the OEM sound card only has the one original driver that came from Dell that doesn't match your OS. Sadly neither companies offer good phone support, though being a gaming rig this may offer a different line of support.

This is one PC I would seriously consider buying over building my own.
January 25, 2008 5:36:52 AM

Wait, so with the hard drives, does that mean you just put a hard drive in the slot, and the power and data transfer cables are already in the back? And you just have to slide it in? Because that's awesome!

I hope that's what they meant....
January 25, 2008 1:36:39 PM

I priced out a Blackbird and a XPS 720 HTC. The only advantage the Blackbird seems to have is it offers cooling for the CPU and the GPUs. The XPS comes with a good 3 year warranty as the Blackbird comes with a 1 year limited. The XPS was about $75 less. I don't really need a warranty as I typically build my own rigs, but if I were to spend that kind of cash on a PC I would want a better return than just 1 year of limited coverage. I like the way both systems look so it's isn't an ascetics thing to me. However, if they ad kept the original case that they had planned to use for the Blackbird with the automatic vents and stuff, then I think it would win hands down. But as I see it now, XPS performs better, is "technically" cheaper, and has a better warranty (investment). Also Dell was the only one to offer an XP option.
January 25, 2008 3:04:54 PM

yadge said:
Wait, so with the hard drives, does that mean you just put a hard drive in the slot, and the power and data transfer cables are already in the back? And you just have to slide it in? Because that's awesome!

I hope that's what they meant....


That's exactly how it works, yes. It's pretty damn slick.
January 25, 2008 5:11:44 PM

robwright said:
That's exactly how it works, yes. It's pretty damn slick.


What's amazing is how many case manufacturers DON'T offer this feature, because it's one of the primary features of all Serial ATA drives. You find companies selling multi-bay drive racks that make use of the standardized SATA connector locations, but I'm not seeing any companies putting an SATA backplane in their retail cases.

This neglect includes such companies as Antec, Lian-Li, and Silverstone, companies that have released high-end cases at least every 6 months for several years and have not yet addressed the standard feature of all SATA drives.

Rather than praising HP, I think we should start scolding the high-end retail case brands.
January 25, 2008 7:16:44 PM

IMHO HP is hurting themselves by sending out Crossfire systems for review. I know WHY they do it. It is to impress people that they got Crossfire to work with an Nvida MB. But is really hurts performance. The first Blackbirds sold ONLY used Nvidia cards. If the Blackbird tested here had dual 8800 Ultras in SLI it would have beat the Dell in more tests.
January 25, 2008 7:22:04 PM

kmagill said:
off the shelf parts at double the cost plus a nicelookin'n'heavy case. not a good deal in my view.

Price out the parts, I dare you. If it comes out to half the cost of the full PC I will print out this thread and eat it.

Here, someone did it for you on another Blackbird design

http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=3115&p=...
January 25, 2008 9:04:07 PM

I remember seeing at least 20 of these at the HP booth at E for All back in October. Not to be sarcastic, but does it really take Tom's this long to obtain review gear from HP?

I agree with the comments regarding tha sata drive cages - it's a neat feature to just pop hard disks in and out. More case makers should follow this idea. But if that is your dream and don't mind a little "modding" you could install and wire any commercially available sata cage inside your case, complete with vibration and sound isolation, fans and dust filters. No big deal for those handy with a dremel, rivet gun, soldering iron, etc.

The allen wrench and screw thing is also just a stiff foam liner glued to the drive cage, something you can pick up for a few cents from the Home Depot. Hardly high tech, just a little imagination on a simple idea.

For those that don't want to mod, the blackbird case is a viable and very neat alternative. But that just takes away the fun of doing it all yourself and building something original. Custom builders out there know what I mean.
January 26, 2008 9:21:40 AM

I love the design on the side, reminds me of The Designers Republic's work. Studied them for my art a-level all those years ago, still got most my work up around me!
www.thedesignersrepublic.com
www.thepeoplesbureau.com

I might have to grab some masking tape and paint and have a go myself now.
January 26, 2008 3:06:54 PM

"Instead of a mass of twisted cables and clunky hardware thrown together, the Blackbird has an impeccable user-friendly design that is unrivaled" Nuh uh. Mac desktops are the same inside as this. 'idiot-proof' comes to mind..
January 27, 2008 12:07:45 AM

Im impressed with the case, cooling setup, and crossfire on the striker. Other than that they had somewhat of a poor choice of hardware (2900XT's and lacking sound card), and the price is well...as it always is. Interesting read overall, but until I can get a case and cooling setup like that to build myself...there wont be a system like this in my house. Just my two cents!

Best,

3Ball
January 28, 2008 10:31:00 PM

I only spent a little bit of time with this. Some observations:

The case does remind me of the mac. Good tactile feel, like the pop out port thing, which is spring dampened, for example. Heavy as hell.

Simple changes, like drives and cards, seem like they'd be easier than normal. Big changes, like mobo replacments look like they'd be harder.

Although a heavy case is harder to move around, it does have a clear benefit if you bump into it. Much better shock and vibration resistance.

The Striker Extreme/Crossfire combination was the biggest Huh? of the system. I wouldn't use it because of the drivers. However, this seems to suggest that the real barrier between Nvidia and ATI at the motherboard level might be Nvidia and ATI themselves. That motherboards don't really need to be tied to one or the other.
January 31, 2008 3:05:12 PM

The reason that the Blackbird doesn't have the quad-core 45mm AND SLI is because no such motherboard exists right now that supports that combination.
January 31, 2008 3:18:27 PM

Whoops...I stand corrected. It looks like the 780 chipset actually can do it.
January 31, 2008 4:05:13 PM

A new blackbird has recently been made available to testers that includes a 45nm quad-core.