HP Blackbird 002: Back in Black

by Jarred Walton on 9/12/2007 12:00 PM EST
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  • Sabresiberian - Monday, October 08, 2007 - link

    Hewlett-Packard used to be synonymous with high quality small computing and scientific gear, but have become something less than that. It is nice to see them produce something that is once again aimed at the high-end market.

    I can understand why they didn't go with 64-bit, it's still early for that, but I agree it should have had 4GB ram. Easy to fix, but why should you have to fix anything in a $5500 system?

    I'd buy one just to support HP's efforts if I could afford one :)
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, September 17, 2007 - link

    No idea how great this encoder is (video isn't my thing) but http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html">Super claims to convert to H.264 Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - link

    Seems to work fine, except it definitely doesn't support quad-core and possibly not even fully dual-core. :( Reply
  • Zak - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    Since when Radeon HD X2900 XT 1GB is the fastest card on the market? I'm confused. All reviews I read say that it's about as fast as 8800GTS 640MB. Because all that super fast memory doesn't give it any benefit since the GPU is lagging behind. It was beaten by 8800GTX and Ultra in all reviews, except for one game, I forgot which one. Can someone elaborate? I'm going to buy a new video card soon and I was intrigued by this card: 1GB of GDDR4 sounds impressive and the price is right. But then I started reading reviews and they cooled me off, this card is competing against 8800GTS, it's not even close to GTX or Ultra speed.

    Z.
    Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    Regardless of what reviews say, because many reviewers are biased, I can tell you that I've tested a Sapphire HD2900XT 1GB GDDR4 and it's performance lies between a 8800 GTS 640MB and a 8800 GTX 768MB. Never mind touching the Ultra. Best bang for the buck is the MSI 8800 GTX, Anand will agree with me. Take care and good luck. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Since when Radeon HD X2900 XT 1GB is the fastest card on the market?


    I'm not sure that I ever intended to give the impression that the HD 2900 XT 1GB is the fastest card on the market - in fact, at several points I specifically say the opposite. However, I'm sure that AMD CrossFire is merely an option and is not required. Obviously, the Dell 720 H2C comes out ahead in quite a few of the gaming tests, even with older drivers.

    Also, a https://h20435.www2.hp.com/Default.aspx">"special edition" Blackbird went on sale today for $5500, and only 518 (don't ask me why 518!) will be made. That version includes dual 8800 Ultra cards and the Half-Life 2 "Orange Box" bundle, plus pretty much everything seen here. Not a bad price for the components, really, but still more than most people are willing to spend.
    Reply
  • Zak - Sunday, September 16, 2007 - link

    Thanks. I was just confused. I thought I missed something. Also, thanks to the other poster who replied. I will most likely get the 8800GTX then. 8800Ultra seems like a waste of money at $100 more. But I just got a 24" monitor, I may need all the graphics power I can get. SLI is out of question though, too expensive.

    Z.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    Apparently I messed up the link. Let's try that again:

    https://h20435.www2.hp.com/Default.aspx">HP Blackbird 002 Dedication Edition
    Reply
  • Zak - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    I have to say I'm shocked to see this come out of HP, the most boring computer maker on the planet. The price is prohibitively high, but if I was on the market for computer of this grade I would very seriously consider this vs Dell or Alienware.

    Z.
    Reply
  • Toronto699 - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Blackbird Tech Support will be handled by Voodoo PC in Calgary Alberta Canada, Canadas Oil Capitol Reply
  • 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
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    You have to do a bit more accurate math on the cost. Yes, it's still expensive, but it's not at all a 2-3X mark up.

    Crazy ATX Case: I'd say this is easily a $500 case. Not that most people need it, but this is not some flimsy plastic thing.
    1100W PSU: It looks like this might be a TOPOWER 1100W PSU (it says "TOP-1100W DVT" on a sticker). The 1000W TOPOWER at Newegg costs $330 shipped, so call this on $350.
    QX6850: $1200, not overclocked
    ASUS Striker: $300
    2 x 1GB 2900 XT: $1000
    2x1GB Corsair Dominator 8500: $210
    160GB Raptor: $190 (technically 10GB more than the normal 150GB Raptors)
    750GB Seagate: $210
    Logitech G11: $55
    Logitech G5: $60
    Asetek cooling: $400 for this particular kit seems likely
    Blu-ray/HD drive: $880 (Yup, look up the GGW-H10NI - crazy!)
    DVDR slot load: $40

    Total for parts alone: $4200, and that's going by cheapest online prices.

    Still expensive, still a ~50% markup, but then the factory overclock with warranty is worth at least something, right? Anyway, I'm not saying it's a great deal, but if someone told me they wanted me to build them a system like this? Yeah, I'd probably charge at least $1000 to do it, just because I'd want to have some extra for the invariable support costs. "My OC'ed computer just crashed...."
    Reply
  • jonnyGURU - Friday, September 14, 2007 - link

    Actually, the Blackbird's 1100W is based on Topower's 1200W platform. Tweak and guideline requests (OCP settings, efficiency at different loads, etc.) from HP put the continuous output rating at 1100W. So that's another $50 we need to add for the PSU. FWIW, it's based on the same unit as the ABS/Tagan 1300W (looser standards than HP) which sells for $400. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    OF al lthe OEM system manufactuers HP probably has one of the better warranties, or so I have been told. Since I do not personally OWN a HP machine, I have to go by word of mouth here. Anyhow, I would venture to say that the warranty on these blackbird system would probably have to be close to Dells Gold service plan.

    What does this mean ? It means you do not have to play the idiot on the phone for some E. India 'technitian' who probably has less of a clue what is wrong with your system than you do, but rather get to deal with stateside technitians who can actually be helpfull . . . It also means you do not have to wait for some lowly tech to wade through the 'chain of command' to get things replaced/fixed.
    Reply
  • Slaimus - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    Is it true that for this system HP somehow got CF to work on a SLI motherboard? If so, does it need special modded drivers like the ULi "GLI" motherboards? Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    I doubt that, I will do some research on that and post back. Raul Sood said that they didn't do it with NVidia's help, so if anything was moded, it must be special Catalyst drivers that are being made available only to HP. Sooner or later the "secret" will come out. But I don't imagine that it's something that difficult to do, since ATI uses two CF bridges, and they transfer all rendering data over those, hence, they don't have to rely on the chipset. Reply
  • RamarC - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    but the blackbird line is shipping with at least two motherboard options since there's an amd x2 based blackbird. so two additional mobos could be available for cf/sli. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    No need to do any research:

    "ATI CrossFire requires peer-to-peer writes in order to function, and ATI has always maintained that support for this feature is the only thing preventing CrossFire from working on other chipsets, like NVIDIA's SLI chipsets."

    If the BIOS is updates so that peer-to-peer PCI-E writes work, CrossFire should work. SLI of course is a given, and getting SLI on non-NVIDIA chipsets is what usually requires hacked drivers. I'll let you know if the stock 7.9 drivers work properly later today when I've had a chance to verify.
    Reply
  • n7 - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    I was excited to see this review, mainly because i wanted to see how well their cooling system worked.

    But there's not a word in this review about the cooling setup, what temps were, was it better than others for OCing etc...

    And as for the system itself, sure, it looks nice, & getting SLI or CF working is nice, but 2 GB of RAM?
    That's just a big joke when many of us already run 4 GB in our "lowly systems"...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    For a 32-bit OS, there's not much need to go beyond 2GB of RAM. Users will almost certainly get the option to install 4GB in the online configurator - and they might even be able to select a 64-bit OS; I don't know yet because the system isn't officially on sale for a few more days.

    As for the water cooling setup, I haven't tested any other water cooling configs so I can't say whether the Asetek unit in the Blackbird is better or not. It appears to deal with a fully stressed Core 2 Quad @ 3.66 GHz, though I can't be 100% sure that the overclock didn't cause a crash or two. I can look into temperatures for the follow-up, but honestly I think stability is far more important. If a system can manage to run Folding@Home SMP without excessive failures and/or crashes, that's usually a pretty good indication that the overclock is "safe".
    Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    HP should have known better than installing a 32 bit OS on such a system, because the OS will never be able to address all the video memory. It's about the same as installing 4GB Ram on a 32 bit OS, except that in this situation with 2GB system RAM and 2GB Video Ram, the OS will be able to address closer to 4GB Ram. Other devices also take away some of the 4GB addressing space.
    As far as CrossFire is concerned, it's not so miraculous that it works on a Striker Motherboard. After all, native crossfire will transfer all data over the two bridges, so it can be chipset agnostic.
    It looks like the high performance PC market is pretty profitable, and HP and other companies are going after the boutique manufacturers to try and take away what business is left. But if I want this kind of computer, I'd rather buy from Falcon NW, Puget or build my own. Sorry, not my cup of tea.
    Reply
  • 0roo0roo - Sunday, September 16, 2007 - link

    "
    quote:

    It looks like the high performance PC market is pretty profitable, and HP and other companies are going after the boutique manufacturers to try and take away what business is left. But if I want this kind of computer, I'd rather buy from Falcon NW, Puget or build my own. Sorry, not my cup of tea.


    eh, different strokes for different folks. falcon is more of the old type of boutique of mostly standard store bought items tweaked a bit that simply can't compete with this level of craftsmanship. the new case with its quality is quite nice, no shaving off metal thickness to save money there! just solid sweet aluminum. theres no way you could design a case like that yourself easily, let alone for that price. you'll just end up with a standard pc, save a little money but it won't match what hp is selling.

    quote:

    72 pounds?!?!

    And a $6500 computer without a monitor included?


    not all bad, if some brat tries to steal it they'll probably get a hernia while trying to run away lol:) as for the price, boutique computers cost a lot, just check out voodoopc or any other, they are high end stuff for people that want a high end pc that is top of the line and comes with tech support. not everyone enjoys the hassel of ordering 15 boxes of components through the mail then trying to slap it together and hope you don't have to rma anything.
    Reply

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