Case Studies

In terms of appearances and design, we can without a doubt say that we've never seen anything quite like the Blackbird 002. It comes in a large, wedge-shaped case that sits on top of a stand, lifting the main chassis several inches off the ground. That might sound and even look a little precarious, but once you've actually picked up the case and moved it around your fears will be assuaged. HP states that the foot is capable of supporting up to 600 pounds, and after sitting on top of the case (yes, all 190 pounds of me!) and even bobbing up and down a little bit, we're pretty sure they're not exaggerating. Exactly why you would want a case that can support 600 pounds, we don't know, but it certainly is sturdy!


In fact, our earlier comparison of this computer with the SR-71 Blackbird probably chose the wrong aircraft, names notwithstanding. This thing is built like a tank, and an A-10 warthog might have been a more apt comparison. Much of the case appears to be made of aluminum, but a lot of the metal is so thick that you might feel the case is made of cast iron instead. The total weight is around 70 pounds for the test configuration, so all of you LAN party attendees looking to put on a little more muscle can simply haul one of these things around and kill two birds with one stone!


The case isn't the only reason for the weight, however, as HP includes a complete "maintenance free" water cooling system (designed by Asetek). There are three models of the Blackbird 002 available, and as far as we can tell only the top to include water cooling, but since the systems aren't actually available for purchase yet we weren't able to get the precise options. The model we were shipped certainly appears to be the absolute top-end design, as water cooling is used for the CPU as well as the two graphics cards. The motherboard chipset isn't water cooled, but the ASUS Striker motherboard already has an extensive heat pipe arrangement to handle that aspect of cooling.


While we're on the subject of motherboards, the use of an ASUS Striker board also represents one of the better aspects of the Blackbird 002. This isn't a special locked down version of the ASUS Striker; you gain access to pretty much everything you would get with a regular ASUS board, which means that this is one of the best overclocking motherboards currently available. That approach doesn't end with the motherboard; besides the custom ATX case (yes, ATX) everything else uses standard off-the-shelf components. We don't necessarily advocate purchasing a computer with the intent of upgrading in the future, because new products and technologies are always coming out, but at least the Blackbird is as upgradeable as any DIY system.

Index Gearheads, Rejoice!
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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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