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
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  • n0nsense - Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - link

    It is serious gaming machine with all you might wish. Case design is the most attractive part. But as it mentioned in review, I'm completely happy with my P5N32-E SLI + Q6600 + 2GB of G.Skill DDR2 800 4-4-3-5 + Corsair HX620 + 8800GTS 640 (probably will need to upgrade after upgrading monitor to 24") packed in Enermax CS-718 case for less then 2K $.
    I would consider to by empty balckbird case for less then 200$, but it seems Science Fiction that HP will do something like this. And I don't think it's worth to buy whole computer just for the price. As for warranty, if you buy all the parts at one store, then the store is responsible for all your hardware. At least here in Israel.
  • Gholam - Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - link

    I highly doubt this case, when sold separately, would be available for under $200. Antec P182 costs NIS900 (=$195+VAT), and this one is a class above it - even if you discount the integrated watercooling. My estimate for case price would be in the $300-400 range here.
  • Bonesdad - Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - link

    Not worth the pretty penny to buy one, but really good looking, nonetheless.

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