Introducing the DigitalStorm BlackOps

I'll cut to the chase: the DigitalStorm BlackOps desktop we were sent for review is a hell of a lot of computer. How much computer is it? It's enough that when the FedEx guy arrived, he actually needed my help getting the box into my apartment. The tower, not to mention the box it came in, is huge, extremely heavy, and contains the most horsepower I've ever seen firsthand in a computer. The BlackOps configuration we were furnished with isn't the most ridiculous build you could assemble these days, but it's well past the point of reason. So how is it specced?

DigitalStorm BlackOps Assassin Edition Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-950 @ 3.84GHz (160MHz Bclk with x24 multiplier)
(spec: 4x3.06GHz, 45nm, 8MB L3, 130W)
Motherboard eVGA X58 FTW3 Edition Motherboard with X58 chipset
Memory 3x2GB A-Data DDR3-1600 @ 1600MHz (expandable to 24GB)
Graphics 2 x eVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 in SLI
(512 CUDA Cores, 772/1544MHz Core/Shader, 4GHz RAM, 384-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Corsair Force 120GB SSD (OS drive)
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gbps (Data drive)
Optical Drive(s) BD-ROM/DVD-ROM
Networking Dual Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD Audio
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Front Side Optical Drives
MMC/SD/CF/MS reader
Top 2x USB 2.0 (case)
Headphone and mic jacks (case)
Power and reset buttons (case)
6x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0 (blue)
6-pin FireWire
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks
4x DVI-D
2x Mini-HDMI
AC Power
Back Side Exhaust
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 19.57" x 24.25" x 8.35" (WxDxH)
Weight 33.1 lbs (case only)
Extras 1200W Power Supply
Corsair H70 Liquid Cooling
SilverStone Fortress Case
Switchable white illumination
Flash reader (MMC/MS/CF/SD)
Overclocked from warehouse
Warranty 3-year limited warranty and lifetime phone support
Pricing Quoted Price: $3,624
Price as configured (12/23/2010): $3,519

If anything, the configuration for the pricetag is almost a little underwhelming, but let's unpack that a bit and see what we're really paying for. The big ticket items are the processor, the SSD, the pair of eVGA GeForce GTX 580s, and the case and power supply.

The Intel Core i7-950 we have on hand has been overclocked to 3.84GHz using a 160MHz Bclk with a x24 multiplier, effectively identical to the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme 8500 we tested recently which used a Core i7-875K with the same clocks. The 950, on the other hand, should benefit some from having access to triple-channel memory and a motherboard with dual x16 slots. Theoretically this should be the fastest processor we've ever tested in a desktop review unit. That triple-channel memory controller is being fed by 6GB of DDR3-1600, courtesy of A-Data, and everything's plugged into eVGA's X58 FTW3 Edition motherboard.

Storage duties are being handled by a Corsair Force 120GB SSD that employs the popular SandForce SF-1200 controller, backed by what seems to be the industry favorite Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard disk. There's also a Blu-ray reader included standard, along with a standard DVD writer. This is actually a little disappointing: Blu-ray writers are starting to dip around the $100 pricetag (and can be had for less if you know where to look), and with the sticker price this tower commands a writer wouldn't be unreasonable.

Probably the biggest draw of this build is the pair of eVGA GeForce GTX 580s. These are stock-clocked, but the GTX 580 has proven to be the fastest single-GPU card on the market. A pair of these in SLI should produce a tremendous amount of gaming performance, likely beyond what most gamers are going to need unless they're running a surround gaming setup with three monitors.

Finally, everything's wrapped up in a SilverStone Fortress case. Given the pricetag of the DigitalStorm BlackOps it's nice to see such a high-end enclosure being used. The Fortress has a unique mounting design that you may have noticed from the spec sheet: the motherboard is rotated so that the port cluster and expansion slots open at the top of the case instead of the rear. Three 180mm fans intake cool air from the bottom of the case, then use natural convection (and a single 120mm exhaust fan) to push hot air out of the top. It's a brilliant design, and the case retails for $250 on its own.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • Patrick Wolf - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Am I missing something? We know these pre-built systems aren't blessed from the gods to give better performance so why talk performance at all (except for OCing)? You only need to highlight the value of buying instead of building, if there even is one.

    Though I must say I wasn't even aware of DigitalStorm. Their systems are far more diverse and seem more appealing than Alienware.
  • gevorg - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Over $3500 and no i7-980X, and not even >1TB storage drive. LOL!
  • brucek2 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Tom's Hardware just posted a $2,000 build that seems would deliver equivalent or greater performance at many tasks:
  • Batou - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Sincerely, why spend so much money for a system like this. Absolutely crazy.
    With less money you can have a 980x, a better case, maybe a RE3, and a full
    custom loop with EK or MIPS waterblocks. I can't understand why people should
    buy this, instead of having fun deciding all components and putting them together.
    Anyway nice read.
  • Belard - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Because many people don't have the experience and or afraid to build their computers.

    Seriously, some people SHOULDN'T put a screwdriver near a PC.

    I've had a buddy not want to "bother me" with a P4 1.6Ghz he bought (ugh... $500 for 1GB of crap RD-RAM) - he installed the parts wrong and blew out the board. It was weeks before the replacement parts got back.

    An ex GF built her BF a computer, yet she still needed my help on some areas... he knows nothing, but spent about $1200+ on the computer that as 12GB of RAM on it. 12GB and the stressful thing he plays is WOW & Starcraft II. I'll admit I'm still running 2GB on my intel quad and Windows7...

    I know I can get 4GB for about $30~40 again... but that's date money. :) I bought a RC Helicopter and having more fun with that. ;)
  • cbgoding - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    Wow actually scales really well with 12GB ram, since you can cache all the areas and completely subvert loading screens. The PVE heroes do this so they can get into raids faster.
  • kevith - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Well, it is definitely a flashing build. But I don't really think enthusiasts would buy a monster like this, if they are capable of really appreciating machines this caliber, they will build it themselves.

    But anyway, it's fun to read about anyway; What can rich kids buy these days to entertain them for a little while?

    And maybe that's why the article seems to have - as mentioned by GeorgeH - this scent of laziness about it: This is a totally expendable product.

    Every motor-journalist would of course love to test the brand new, latest model Bentley. But would there be any point of testing the same model, but with all the modifications a billionaire, Saudi-Arabian sheik has had installed? Like gold-doorhandles, diamond-braced remote control for the platinum-framed TV, the De-Extra-Luxe handmade 10.000 watt stereo or champagne and Cognac on tap?

    No, not really. The ones, that would actually buy it, or in this case, the Digital Storm build, doesn't read reviews first, and we that does, would never buy a machine like this.

    It is pretty however.
  • mino - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    There are people that can appreciate a top-of-the line product with a top-notch customer care.

    Go, ask Rahul Sood. If you do not believe ...
  • kevith - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Ok, the customer-care of course is an aspect with a product like this, that I did't think of.

    I'm not familiar with the guy You mention, though.
  • Nentor - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Of course. Nobody that knows anything of computers will talk into a store to buy one pre-build. And if you DO have the money to buy this and have an equal amount of brains you will still get it elsewhere.

    It is all about building a box as cheaply as possible, making it look as attractive as possible, marking it up as high as possible and selling it to the biggest idiot possible.

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