Introduction

Whether it's cars, aircrafts, houses, motorcycles, or computers people always seem to like hearing about the most exotic products on the planet. HP's latest and greatest desktop computer offering bears the name of one of the most mystical aircrafts of all time, the SR-71 Blackbird. We can't say for sure whether the choice of name actually comes from the famous surveillance aircraft or not, but we would venture to say this is the case. See, besides the name, the two have quite a few other common attributes.

The SR-71 Blackbird was on the cutting edge of technology, pushing the boundaries of what was deemed achievable. It was the first aircraft that was designed to reduce its radar signature, and while it would fail in this respect it helped pave the way for future stealth aircraft. Perhaps more notably, the Blackbird was the fastest aircraft ever produced, officially reaching speeds of Mach 3.2 and unofficially reaching even higher. The actual top speed remains classified to this day. The extremely high speeds required some serious out of box thinking to achieve, so the Blackbird was built from flexible panels that actually fit loosely together at normal temperatures; only after the aircraft heated up from air friction would the panels fit snugly, and in fact the SR-71 would leak fuel while sitting on the runway before takeoff. After landing, the surface of the jet was so hot (above 300°C) that maintenance crews had to leave it alone for several hours to allow it to cool down.


So how does all of that relate to the HP Blackbird 002? In terms of components and design, the Blackbird is definitely on the cutting edge of design and technology, and it features several new "firsts" in computers. When we consider that the Blackbird comes from a large OEM that doesn't have a reputation for producing such designs, it makes some of these firsts even more remarkable. Talking about the temperatures that the SR-71 reached during flight was intentional, because the Blackbird 002 can put out a lot of heat. No, you won't need to let it cool down for several hours after running it, but the 1100W power supply is definitely put to good use. If electricity is the fuel of the 002, saying that it leaks fuel while sitting idle definitely wouldn't be an overstatement. And last but not least, the Blackbird 002 is fast - extremely fast - easily ranking among the best when it comes to prebuilt desktop computers.

Where did all of this come from? We are after all talking about HP, a company that has been in the computer business for decades, and during all that time they have never released anything quite like this. Flash back to about a year ago, when HP acquired VoodooPC, a boutique computer vendor known for producing extremely high-performance computers with exotic paint jobs and case designs - with an equally exotic price. The HP Blackbird 002 represents the first fruits of this merger, and while it may not be quite as exotic as the old VoodooPC offerings in all respects, it certainly blazes new trails in the world of OEM computers. There's clearly a passion for computer technology behind the design, and even if we might not personally be interested in purchasing such a computer, we can certainly appreciate all the effort that has gone into creating this latest "muscle car" - or pseudo-stealth aircraft, if you prefer.

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  • rsvdhd - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Hi guys, there is a known bug with Crossfire 2900XTX and 3D Mark. There is a patch you can download to fix this issue.

    Thanks for the review, for more info check out http://www.hp.com/blackbird">http://www.hp.com/blackbird

    rs
    Reply
  • ddarko - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Raul,

    Why not offer a broader ranger of CPU choices for the Blackbird? The only quad core processor offered is the most expensive one, the QX6850. Why not also offer the Q6600 and overclock it? I dislike the tendency of only offer the most expensive part. Being a gamer doesn't mean you should have to spend the most money; price/performance is an important consideration, especially when, as this review demonstrates, increasing CPU speed produces diminishing returns. I don't mean the Blackbird should be offered with Celeron processors but when an option exists like the Q6600 that is economical AND offers great performance, why is HP ignoring it? I'm disappointed that the Blackbird seems designed to wrestle the most money out of the buyer's pocket.
    Reply
  • rsvdhd - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Good question,

    We are offering a series of choices, including a full line of Intel processors. We are also offering both Nvidia and ATI video cards (depending on your preference). Right now we have the "dedication edition" for sale starting Saturday - but if you want to create your own configuration then go to www.hp.com/blackbird and you can hook it up in early October.

    Thanks again, look forward to some big things -
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    72 pounds?!?!

    And a $6500 computer without a monitor included?
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    The Blackbird was originally dubbed the RS-71. So how did it become the SR-71? Well as it turns out, it's Lyndon Johnson's fault. In a speech where he advocated the funding to finish development and purchase of this line of airplanes, he flubbed his lines and repeatedly referred to it as the "SR-71 Blackbird" instead of its proper designation of "RS-71 Blackbird." In order to avoid embarrassing the President, the good folks at Lockheed and the Pentagon decided to quietly change the designation.

    The pilot's manual for the SR-71 has been declassified and is available online. Maximum speed is Mach 3.3.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, September 17, 2007 - link

    Where is the manual? That would be interesting to see. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    Heh, I remember reading about the Blackbirds maximum speed when I was a kid, and I am now 41 . . . and no, no one I know works/worked for Lockheed Martin. Where did I read about it you ask ? In an illustrated Aircraft book bought from a local bookstore. This book also insinuated that mach 3.3 was its maximum *safe* speed, and that it actually could go faster. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    The rumors are that it routinely broke Mach 3.6 and possibly even got near Mach 4.0 in certain tests. Maximum official altitude and speed records belong to the SR-71, but it's reasonable to say that the official records are likely lower than the actual maximums the plane achieved. Some feel that the SR-71 could have probably been pushed quite a bit further (rumor mongers and former pilots seem to think Mach 4.0 wasn't out of reach), but that this was never done because you pretty much don't mess around playing games with an expensive plane. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Supposedly this aircraft also leaked fuel while on the ground when fueled to full capacity. According to random 'literature' on the web, there were two reason why the Blackbird normally would not go faster than mach 3.2. First was shock waves which would narrow enough between mach 3.6-3.8 that could potentially narrow enough off of the nose to travel through the engines, thus stalling the aircraft. Second was heat, which would increase above mach 3.5 enough to effect the glass/windshield center divider. Reply
  • Inkjammer - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    Y'know, it seems like these "high end gaming machines" are becoming more and more expensive with each company's new iteration, the high end edition always more expensive than the previous. The Dell 720HC, the HP Blackbird 002, Alienware's ALX. They're all good machines, but at a price points that get more and more ridiculous.

    My home machine has two 8800 GTX in SLI, 4GB of RAM and an OC'd E6600 to 3.2Ghz. Sure, it won't detonate charts and graphs, but it'll come close with even the baddest boys thes companies can throw out. I still have yet to run into a game that does NOT play smoothly at 1920x1200. And it cost about $2,800. Everything is OC'd just fine, too. A Freezone, 7 Scythe SFlex fans... and I still have room to grow.

    Yeah, yeah, it's always cheaper to build it yourself, that's an established fact. But these machines are coming out at 2 to 3x the cost of their components, and for what? Overclocked machines that use off-the-shelf Coolit Freezones and some fancy cable management? How much are you paying for design and name alone? For the cost of this machine I'd expect Mr. Freeze to personally hook up the cooling units himself and gaurantee absolute zero thermals. But not, y'know, before putting on a show and fighting Batman in my living room. For $6,500, I expect a show.
    Reply

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