It’s while inspecting the Blackbird 002’s interior that you really begin to appreciate the work HP put into the machine’s user-friendly design. Opening the case and getting at its internals can be done with the flick of a finger, thanks to a simple latching mechanism on the front of the cases’ side panel. The panels are hinged and swing out of the way easily, and can also be removed if the need arises by simply lifting them up and off.
The Blackbird 002 we received for evaluation was equipped with a self-contained liquid cooling system that cooled the processor and both graphics cards. We should note, however, that users will have the option to stick with air cooling if they so choose. The custom liquid cooling system comes by way of Asetek, the makers of the exotic Vapochill vapor-phase change cooler. We actually first encountered this Asetek liquid-cooling system at CES in 2006, and hinted at it in our coverage of the show, but couldn’t show you any pictures due to non-disclosure agreements. The nice things about this cooling system are that it is self contained and won’t need maintenance for years, and it’s easy to install and remove.
Lurking underneath the liquid cooling system in our Blackbird 002 were a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor, overclocked to 3.67GHz, and two GeForce 8800 Ultra cards running in SLI mode. The 4GB of RAM in the system was comprised of Corsair Dominator PC2-8500 memory and the motherboard was Asus’ excellent Striker Extreme. We’re not going to dwell on the actual hardware here, because the Blackbird 002 is fully customizable, but what you see pictured here will be offered as a “Dedication Edition” in a couple of weeks.
The Blackbird 002’s enclosure is segmented in such a way that is had three cooling zones separated by interlocking panels. At the bottom of the rig in the first zone is a 1.1KW PSU that sucks air in from the bottom and exhausts it from the system through the PSU. The center of the rig is where the expansion cards reside; at the top is the CPU / RAM, and radiator assembly.
The center zone where the expansion cards reside is capped by a hinged cover that also acts as reinforcement for the cards. The cover has flat metal springs that push down on the expansion cards and help keep them in place during transit and prevent “chip walk”. If you’ve ever moved a machine or even ordered a new rig and had it arrive with a loose expansion card, this is a feature you’ll appreciate.
Another noteworthy feature of the Blackbird 002 is its hard drive mounting mechanism. There are five internal 3.5” hard drive bays that are all equipped with slide out trays. The trays slide into a PCB, which is in turn connected to the motherboard. This means that users who want to add (or remove) a hard drive simply need to slide it into one of the trays and plug it in. No messing with cables, and no disrupting the system’s internal wiring.
The standard components, the self contained liquid-cooling system, the expansion card retention bracket, and hard drive trays; we could go on for days talking about the user friendly features HP has incorporated in the Blackbird. But we thought it would be best to simply show you what we’re talking about. If you want to see how easy it really is to get into the Blackbird 002, check out the video linked above. It’s 12 seconds of geek-goodness...