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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  • Dug - Friday, December 31, 2010 - link

    I agree. This guy has got to go. We can get half assed reviews from anywhere.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, December 31, 2010 - link

    You do know we read these, right?
  • Kaboose - Friday, December 31, 2010 - link

    He probably hopes so, if you didn't what would be the point of posting?
  • Belard - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Okay, for a TOP of the LINE game system...

    Win7-64 bit Home edition? I'd go with at least a pro but for about $40 or so for OEM difference, might as well go for the Ultimate, no? For $3200+... might as well have the top-end Win7 OS to boot.
  • Zan Lynx - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    I picked Home 7 for my custom build. I looked at the features on the higher versions and couldn't see a single thing I needed.
  • Nentor - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    I used onboard sound once.

    You could hear the cdrom spin up through it, hear electrical noise from the videocard and numerous other sources and even instruments and vocals that SHOULD have been there in the audio were either inaudible or barely so. This was on a P35 Gigabyte board btw.

    Bought a Xonar D2 not long after and never looked back. Seeing there is a market for $3600 machines without a HQ soundcard makes me weep.
  • Scootiep7 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    All other gripes aside, for $3500+ I would expect 8gb's of ram and a Blu Ray burner MINIMUM. And the hack job overclocking just rubs salt in the wound. Like Dustin says, wait for Sandy Bridge.
  • Will Robinson - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    The SLI 580s are a bit silly really,2 x HD6950s would have been a little more technically interesting and saved a considerable whack of money for (at least) a decent audio card,maybe Windows 7 Pro,more memory or even dual RAID 0 SSDs for some snappy fast desktop performance.
    Not a bad system I guess but its target audience is one I'm glad I'm not a member of...
  • VStrom - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    If I'm going to pay that much coin for a boutique build, I'm going the Maingear route because of their customer service. There are no real proprietary parts to this build so any builder (boutique or joe user) could do the same. So all things being equal, customer service and warranty is what differentiates their inherent values. As another posted pointed out, DS doesn't exactly have a stellar customer service rep.
  • Kaboose - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    If you are spending 3.5k on a computer that is prebuilt then you probably shouldn't be. Going to newegg in quick 10 min look i pieced together a build with an i7-970, two GTX 580's, a 120Gb OCZ RevoDrive, 1Tb Spinpoint f3, 6Gb of corsair ddr3 2000 (cas 8), cooler master HAF X case, and a 1.2k watt antec PSU.


    Comparing to our prebuilt here, this quick build will run circles around it in SSD performance, and general applications, Gaming as well, the i7-970 should overclock to 4Ghz easily with the liquid cooling (also in the budget) and the RAM can OC to 2200 easily. This build also includes windows 7 ultimate (apparently too pricey for the prebuilt here)

    Overall for the build in the review it is a $2,753.86 computer with a giant price bump for the "Black Ops" moniker and a half assed OC. This exact build (or as exact as i could make it on newegg) was 2753.86 it has the same everything, case, (had to guess on the PSU as it was left out in the review), A-DATA RAM, graphics cards, CPU, motherboard ,card read, bluray, cd/dvd.....etc. i dont see any real gain in buying this over a custom built (at least with custom you can know what goes in it instead of whatever the company thinks you need. The only thing you gain is a 3 year warranty, however if you buy from respected manufacturers all of your parts should be under at least two year warranty. Lastly, even if you dont know much about computer and want a very high end gaming system (which this is to most people) you would be better off spending a month or two reading up and learning about computers and then building your own instead of buying this over priced gimmick.

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