HP Blackbird 002 review: HP Blackbird 002

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Blackbird 002
110 
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Nvidia)
111 

Cinebench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
HP Blackbird 002
1,938 
621 
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Nvidia)
1,893 
603 
Dell XPS 710 H2C
1,606 
523 
Maingear F131 SLI
1,427 
443 

We have a question, though, about the Blackbird 002's F.E.A.R. scores. By its specs, the Blackbird 002 should be on a par, if not faster than, the Falcon Northwest system, but as you can see on our charts, HP's new gamer falls behind. We tried multiple different drivers from ATI, as well as various other tweaks, and we saw no change in the F.E.A.R. results. We're a bit skeptical that something else is going on that we don't know about, because the HP's scores line up almost exactly with those of the less-expensive, more modest Velocity Micro Raptor DCX. It makes us wonder if F.E.A.R. is recognizing Crossfire in either of those systems, or if there's some other conflict somewhere. The issue--if there is one--isn't universal to Crossfire, as the ATI-equipped Falcon system proves. We don't think it's specific to the Blackbird 002's Crossfire/SLI hybrid build either, as evidenced by its fast Quake 4 scores and their similarity to the Velocity Micro results. Whatever is going on, the Blackbird 002 is fast enough on our application tests, and shreds through Quake 4 to the point where we feel comfortable saying that you're getting your money's worth. We're actively investigating next-gen gaming benchmarks as well, so stay tuned for more up-to-date tests shortly.

Quake 4 performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048 x 1,536 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
1,600 x 1,200 (4x AA, 8xAF)  
1,280 x 1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI)
137.8 
139.6 
142 
HP Blackbird 002
121.4 
142.1 
145.9 
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Nvidia)
117.6 
124.1 
124.7 
Dell XPS 710 H2C
114.6 
114.3 
130.3 
Velocity Micro Raptor DCX
112.1 
117.8 
120 
Maingear F131 SLI
101.4 
130.2 
136 

F.E.A.R. performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048 x 1,536 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
1,600 x 1,200 (4x AA, 8xAF)  
1,280 x 1,024 (4x AA, 8x AF)  
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI)
137 
203 
256 
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Nvidia)
121 
176 
210 
Dell XPS 710 H2C
103 
145.7 
156.7 
Maingear F131 SLI
84.7 
125.3 
165 
HP Blackbird 002
77.3 
114.7 
151.7 
Velocity Micro Raptor DCX
77 
116 
152 

For the other details of this Blackbird 002, the price includes a Logitech G11 Gaming Keyboard, and a 2007-edition G5 Laser Mouse. It did not include a dedicated sound card (that's a motherboard-based port extender you see on the rear panel), wireless networking, or Bluetooth capability. We'd like to start seeing Bluetooth particularly rolled out on more Windows PCs. Thankfully, though, the Blackbird includes none of HP's famous bloatware. Wherever will we go to find an AOL trial offer?!?

As for support, the HP similarly holds back on its built-in TotalCare application, which we don't think the gamers in the market for this system will really miss. The standard, one-year warranty feels a little thin, especially compared to those of Maingear and Velocity Micro, both of which offer three years out of the gate. Rahul told us that support for the Blackbird 002 will run through Voodoo's Calgary office, and it will provide the same level of care as that of its current Voodoo customers, meaning you can call for advice on upgrades and other questions, in addition to basic troubleshooting. You will also find the usual array of online support resources, including a chat function and other help.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Dell XPS 710 H2C
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 4,096MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX; (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0); 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive

Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT)
Windows Vista Ultimate; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 (overclocked to 3.63GHz); 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 1GB (DDR4) ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT; 150GB Western Digital 10,000 rpm hard drive; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

Falcon Northwest Mach V (Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra)
Windows Vista Ultimate; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 (overclocked to 3.63GHz); 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra; 150GB Western Digital 10,000 rpm hard drive; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

HP Blackbird 002
Windows Vista Ultimate; 3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 (overclocked to 3.69GHz); 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 1GB (DDR4) ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT; (2)160GB Western Digital 10,000 rpm hard drives; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

Maingear F131 SLI
Windows Vista Ultimate; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 2GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two 640MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS; two 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives

Velocity Micro Raptor DCX
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q660

What you'll pay

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    Where to Buy

    HP Blackbird 002 Dedication Edition

    Part Number: CNETHPBlackbird002DedicationEdition Released: Oct. 1, 2007
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Oct. 1, 2007
    • Video Memory 756 MB GDDR3 SDRAM
    • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra
    • OS Provided Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
    • Monitor Type None.