A few weeks back, we provided our initial review of HP's Blackbird 002. What we found was a very interesting and exotic design, but without more information on pricing and availability it was difficult to come to any final conclusions. In fact, we were almost left with more questions than answers, so we spent some time talking to HP Gaming's CTO (and VoodooPC founder) Rahul Sood and the Blackbird sales team. There are still some questions that we weren't able to get answered, but we did get a lot of good material and we felt it would be worthwhile to revisit the Blackbird as well as HP's Gaming division.

One of the first things that might be a bit confusing for some people is how HP Gaming relates to VoodooPC. While HP bought out VoodooPC last year, they continue to exist as a separate brand (though still under the HP corporate umbrella). You can still go out and purchase a VoodooPC computer, and you will get the same thing that you always got from Voodoo: extreme attention to detail, premium components, and prices that might just leave you gasping for breath. VoodooPC is as much a status symbol as anything, and while the performance and construction is definitely top-notch, the simple truth is that we just don't see many people being willing to plunk down as much as $10,000 (or more!) on hardware that is going to be second-tier performance in 12 months.

This gets into one of those dirty little secrets about computers that some companies don't like to discuss. AnandTech of course isn't one of those companies, so let's air the dirty laundry. There are a few truths about extreme performance computer hardware. First, naturally, is that it costs quite a bit of money. Second, you generally get rapidly diminishing returns as you move up the performance ladder. Third, newer and faster products are always just six to twelve months away. Finally, if you take the top performing parts currently on the market and slap them together in a system, the difference in performance between something manufactured by a boutique computer shop (VoodooPC, Falcon Northwest, Alienware, etc.) and something built in your parents' basement is, generally speaking, negligible.

These aren't the only truths, of course. Another point that frequently comes up in enthusiast circles is that overclocking - particularly of CPUs - can save you a truckload of money. Practically speaking, there is no difference in performance between a QX6850 running at 3.0GHz and an overclocked Q6600 running at the same speed (9x333). With the right cooling, you can most likely push both processors up to around 3.5-3.6GHz (9x400), and performance will remain equal. What you do get with the QX6850 is more flexibility and (typically) slightly lower voltages. The unlocked multiplier on the QX6850 (and all of the Core 2 Extreme line) means that adjusting front side bus speeds isn't only way to affect the CPU clock speed. However, it's difficult to find a good reason to spend over three times as much on the CPU just for convenience. The best reason to purchase a Core 2 Extreme is honestly if you're not planning on overclocking and you want the best possible guaranteed performance. In that case, you might be more interested in a factory overclocked - and warrantied - system like the Blackbird.

The take away from all of this discussion is that our real question in regards to something like the Blackbird 002 is: what can it add to the computing experience that isn't directly related to raw performance? With a bit more time using the system, more configuration options available, and a lot more details on pricing, we should be able to answer that question.

Blackbird 002, Take Two
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    I don't mean Blackbird for $1500 - I just mean I want to see more interesting PC offerings in the $1500 and under range. Blackbird starts at $2500 which is pretty high-end. Now let's see some true midrange (and maybe even entry-level) stuff from HP Gaming.
  • nets - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    But once again if the PARTS cost more than $1,500 how can the full PC cost less?
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    why would the parts have to cost more than $1500? I'm guessing he is referring to something more along the lines of an overclocked E6xxx or E4xxx, an 8800GTS 320, etc. Say $900-1100 worth of parts plus assembly/tuning/warranty, etc.
  • nets - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    True, but in the article his DIY machine was $3,100. If I'm going to game on a PC I want at least a 24" monitor with max settings on games and 60 fps.

    What is the minimum price for parts that I can play COH or Crysis on and get that?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    We don't know on Crysis yet, but Company of Heroes is more dependent on the GPU, and even an 8800 GTS runs it very well (provided you don't try the crazy-slow DX10 effects). So, just as an example:

    E6550 = $180
    2GB RAM = $125
    P35 board = $115
    8800 GTS 640 = $350
    500GB HDD = $100
    DVDR = $40
    Case = ??? (something custom would be nice if possible, or else just a decent $50 for DIY)
    620W Corsair PSU = $120
    Keyboard and Mouse = $50 (decent quality options)
    24" LCD = $400~$700 depending on brand
    Vista = $130
    Rough Total = $1530 (plus shipping and tax) *with* a 24" LCD.

    That's just a quick estimate, and actual prices might be off $10-$20 on some components. Still, since the Blackbird price didn't include a display, you can pretty much get a great gaming PC for $1100. $1200 will get you Q6600 quad-core as well (which of course does *nothing* for any current game I'm aware of).
  • nets - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    Not bad. I guess I got so caught up in 'super machines' I forgot what other options there are. But man, that is kinda low end. Gotta have an overclocked 8800 GTX and I'd want an extra 10,000 rpm HD, wireless keyboard and mouse, plus you need an OS
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    10k RPM is 90% hype. Oh, they're faster, but it's not a night and day thing for most people. I'm still using 7200RPM drives and am quite happy. More RAM helps, particularly with Vista. Anyway, the above *does* include an (OEM) version of Vista, so basically $1530 gets you a complete upper-midrange gaming system.
  • nets - Thursday, October 4, 2007 - link

    Oh yes, I see Vista on there now - missed it the first time.
    I'd say "upper-midrange" for that system sounds right
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - link

    Isn't that exactly what I did on page 3? Those parts and prices are what I found on the open market, and other than the case (which can't be purchased), you can get the total price. You're paying $1400 for the case and assembly (and support I suppose). That $4100 without case holds for the same parts from Alienware, Dell, VoodooPC, Gateway, etc. So, throw in a nice case like I did on page 4 and you can get the same setup as the Blackbird 002 for around $4400 (plus shipping and tax, as appropriate). Or you can go the overclocking route as I did at the bottom of page 4 and get the same thing for $3100.
  • EateryOfPiza - Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - link

    I was thinking of actual benchmark numbers from the DIY vs the VoodooPC solution.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now