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.

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  • Shinobi_III - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    3600 bucks and you only get one SSD drive, one hard drive, a measly 6gb ram from a complete crap brand, noname DVD burner and one low end built in sound card?

    I don't mind built in sound, but there are better brands. Like Analog Devices.
  • transmitthis - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    I was drawn in by the nice image of a good looking system with 3 GPU's and dedicated Water Cooling...

    But that's not what you reviewed at all, how about using a lead image that more closely reflects the article?

    As for the system, well its always going to be FTL with these bespoke systems, esp with the audience you have here Jarred
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Dustin didn't have a good 300x198 size picture that I could use for the top image, so I went to the DigitalStorm site and grabbed their picture of the BlackOps Assassin. Sorry if the actual system doesn't match up to that picture, but I figured that looked better than a taken-in-his-apartment photo. :-)
  • Deleted - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Even considering the convenience tax of a prebuilt and pre-overclocked computer, There is simply no justification for this price tag. If you were to go to and buy every piece here without combos, you would "only" pay around $2,700, including the OS. That leaves plenty of room for a pair of ZR24w or VG236H monitors.

    And this is without even mentioning the fact that every single item on this thing (except for the CPU and memory) is overpriced and underperforming. Even the case, which is the best air cooling case on the market, is crippled. They removed the AP181 fans, which are arguably the best case fans in existence, and replaced them with those cheap-looking red fans. It even looks like the dust filters are missing, although they may have just been removed for the photo.

    I could make a faster rig than this, with a better overclock and three high quality monitors, for a little bit less, and it would take less than half a day of actual work. I guess I should go into business.
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Exactly... Not being a smart ass, but all of the "I can build this for HALF!!!!!!!" crowd should do it, go into business and show how it's done. Put the money where the mouth is.
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    this build could run you like ~2600 out of pocket.
    so you are paying ~1000 for a warranty that you can't be sure they will honor. (BFG going out of business and shafting their customers on RMA's comes to mind)

    i can understand that some folks don't want to put the time and energy into a build, but those are exactly the kind of people that won't want to deal with shady small companies that can't necessarily deliver what they promise. I mean, an extra grand above parts is expensive for the consumer, but it doesn't even begin to cover the kind of tech support they are inviting with the "high end build" market. Unless they sell like a gabizillion (i didn't make that up, it's a real number) of these things, but i seriously doubt it.
  • jensend - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Today's $3600 machine will be outperformed by next year's $750 custom build, and likely is only appreciably faster than today's $1250 custom build in a small handful of uses.

    Is it worth it? NO.

    Why bother wasting your time on it?
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    By this logic nothing is ever worth it. Eventually "next years" $750 build would be crushed by 5 years from nows $200 mini PC.

    The gap between a $1250, $2650, and $3650 build is "minor" to YOU, but the areas where higher end builds do differentiate on performance are objectively measurable. Just because you don't care about those use cases doesn't make them worthless.

    It's always really odd how so many folks want to use their own personal budget and usage constraints and restrictions as the basis as absolute value judgments:

    "a Ferrari is only for losers with no brain and too much money because no one can drive faster than a Honda Civic and a Honda Civic can be over clocked faster than a Ferrari anyway!"

    That kind of thing..

    I think boutique PCs have their place and are worth reviewing. Folks aren't idiots for buying them or for wanting premium performance. If someone wants to buy rather than build more power to them. If someone want to build full premium vs budget, more power to them. I can't afford a Ferrari, but I still love them. Some people look at a Civic with envy from the bus. Objectivity is generally better for everyone.
  • wingless - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    This kind of power lends itself to the idea that it is perfect for multi-monitor 3D gaming. For that use, it would not be excessively fast.

    How about we get some Multi-monitor and/or 3D gaming tests out of Anandtech when they review multiple GPU setups?
  • Speedye1 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    So the picture on the home page has NOTHING to do with this system. Would it have been to much to ask for a couple pics of said system? No digital camera or cell phone anywhere around? You better get a grip on this Anand, been a reader for along time, this review is trash.

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