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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  • demonbug - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Why would you want Win 7 Ultimate on a gaming rig? Yeah, I know, it has "Ultimate" right there in the name, but other than that... what does it offer that Home Premium doesn't? Unless you are planning on installing >16GB of RAM or putting together a multi-processor system (so going to Xeons, and significantly increasing the overall price), it really doesn't offer anything extra... all for an $80 premium over Home Premium.
  • Kaboose - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    I am not saying it is needed however, it is somewhat expected on a build costing more then 3,000, at least having windows 7 professional for Windows Xp mode would be nice. After all it isn't that big of a price difference.
  • azides - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    If you built this yourself, you would buy the revodrive for sure!
  • YoshiMon - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    As to the Win7 version issue:

    Win7 Home Premium does not offer network backups. Which, for such a rig as this, might not be a big issue, it is something that is rather lacking. The Win7 backup system is a huge plus given that it, being the OS itself, never suffer from trying to read a locked file or whatever.

    So to only put Win7HP on a nearly $4k box? Yeah, they should have put Win7U on that thing. Not that people as clueless that would drop that kinda money for a box like that will know better but I am sure that at some point they will wonder why they did not get the top of the line Win7 version.
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    I can't get past your first sentence. Great that you feel so able to make such absolute statements! I wonder do you apply the same logic to yourself?

    "someone who can't do their own damn tuneup or change their oil shouldnt own a car"

    "if you can't fix your own plumbing, why buy a house???"

    "anyone who needs a TOUR GUIDE shouldn't be traveling!"

    See how stupid that sounds? I'm sure you don't actually. Go ahead and explain how this is different and no one has a right to want to be able to play super high end PC games, or do high end content authoring, without being able to (or have the time to) assemble a PC. And no one should want support either right?

    Ive been building my own PCs since before there was a "PC" (think kit computers - Kate 70s). It's absolutely nothing to be arrogant or judgemental about.
  • Kaboose - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Would you buy a Ferrari without knowing how to drive? Hell would you buy a Ferrari without first knowing what to do with it?
  • FragKrag - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    A new patch for StarCraft 2 WoL recently added an 'Extreme' setting. Will you be using that in the future tests or will you stick with Ultra?
  • Soldier1969 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    WTF. This build is way overpowered for only 1080p res. come on if your going to spend almost 4 grand on a tower and you guys test it with a measly 1080 panel. Wheres the 30" 2560 x 1600 love at? Thats all I game on, anything less is for the poor folk!
  • Gilbert Osmond - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    >99% of finished computer hardware products have ports on a vertical side or bottom panel for a very good reason: to minimize dust accumulation.

    In all but the cleanest environments, after a year or two the dust accumulation in vertically-oriented and top-exposed ports can start to cause connection problems, i/o errors, excessive contact erosion, etc.
  • Deleted - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    Silverstone has three cases with the ports on the top, the first of which was launched just short of three years ago. I have never once heard anyone complain about dust clogging their ports, and I haven't had that issue, either, although I've only had my FT02 for a couple of weeks. Between the grille over the top and the positive pressure from the three massive fans in the bottom, dust isn't an issue.

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