My Blackbird shipped today, with expedited shipping. Review to follow shortly. EDIT: And here's the review. Intro: From the moment I first saw HP and VoodooPC's lovechild, the Blackbird 002, I wasn't sure if I was in love, or if was staring at a very large external hard drive. The pictures at the time, (and now) don't do it any justice, at all. Federated Media, along with Kevin Rose, Morgan Webb and two other guys I'm not familiar with held a contest to give away three Blackbird Dedication Editions. HP/VoodooPC only created 518 of these computers, decked out with Extreme Quad Core CPUs and dual 8800GTXs in SLI, plus liquid cooling for both CPU and GPU, it was evident that I had to win one. Well... I didn't. However, I knew I still had to have that computer. Low on that sort of spending money and a college student/husband/father, I started trying to save, but it wouldn't ever be enough. Until one day, I received a disbursment check for my Pell Grant. Well, this was unexpected, so I decided to put it towards a new Blackbird 002 system. The rest, is history. My wife said she saw the UPS man get a bit frustrated when he saw what he had to haul up to flights of stairs to our apartment... without a dolly. I was at work at the time and couldn't help the guy... Here's a photo of my son, standing on the box for a size comparison. Outside sticker, the "Portal Men" are moonlighting as heavy lifters. LIFT ALWAYS USE TWO PEOPLE Unboxing: Specs: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4Ghz Modified Asus Striker Extreme 680i chipset motherboard Air Cooling System 2 Gigs of Corsair Dominator 800mhz RAM 1 Slot Loading DVD+/-RW DL with Lightscribe 1, 250 Gig 7200 RPM HDD 1, 320 Gig 7200 RPM HDD 2, 8800GTs 512mb in SLI. 1.1kw Modular Power Supply Unit What's in the Box: - The Blackbird - Extra Cables for the PSU, molex connectors, zip ties, power cord, etc. - Four manuals in an attractive DVD "season" style case - A very heavy stabilizer fin for the Blackbird - Windows Vista Home Premium - Recovery Disc (Drivers and Utilities) - A card for three months of Windows Live gaming - Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (came with the motherboard) - The Orange Box, Blackbird Edition - A Blackbird Mousepad - A Blackbird 2 Gig USB Thumbdrive (came with some nice posters and stickers you can print out, several Blackbird videos with Rahul Sood and a few desktop backgrounds. Design: The design is superb. It's very wide across the top but angles in toward the front in a sloping, vector design. The case itself is all aluminum, and very heavy. The side panel comes off and goes back on smoothly, as do the doors and panels for the different heating chambers. Everything is clean and neat on the inside and it gives off a "shaded" white light that almost appears black in nature, very cool. Features: Front hidden I/O port with a 15-1 card reader, two usb ports, a headphone and mic jack and a firewire port. The back has four usb ports, e-sata, PS/2 connections, an LCD poster, an LCD light switch, two network ports, two e-sata ports, one firewire port, SPDIF Out and Optical Out Port. (LCD Poster, while not in diagnostic mode, can be customized to say what you like in the BIOS, mine says MNEMONIC.) Vertical Optical drives, space for two slot loading drives and an expansion port for 5.25 optical drives, such as a Blu-Ray reader/writer. SATA backplane, to allow quick HDD swaps and installs without having to break your fingers installing SATA and power cables. (This is the only part in the system that is propietary, however if the backplane fails you can remove the other panel to hook up the SATA and power connections to each HDD.) Seperate air flow chambers for the CPU, GPU and PSU, which allow air to enter from the bottom, front and top and cool each area respectively without any of each sections hot air mixing with one another's. Built in "Allen Wrench" (phillips head on one end, hex on the other) with the necessary screws and bolts for motherboard replacement. Optical Drive lock, so switching Optical Drive's have never been easier, unless HP came out with an Optical Drive backplane. An amalgam of HP's technical prowess, and Voodoo's magic allows this motherboard to be put in SLI or Crossfire, but unfortunately this is something that is performed at HP Labs, and isn't possible to be switched on the fly. LEDS: The power panel has a soft white LED that illuminates it. The foot has four LEDs that face the front, while the back panel has an LED that lights up all ports for visible light in any scenario. The top of the case has two cold cathode lights that run down the side. I'm usually not one for lights on a case, but the Blackbird manages it to pull it off without saying "hey, look at me, I have lights!" as opposed to "hey, look at me, I'm just plain sexy!" Benchmarks: Size and Weight: Size is... huge. Weight is... very heavy. UPS site says 88 pounds, I say add about fifty more pounds to it, no joke. Heat and Noise: The front fan is somewhat noisy, nothing serious however, and a quieter fan could always be installed if needed. However the noise is gone when I have my personal fan on me, as that's much louder. As for cooling, the heatsink fan and the air flow and design keeps the Blackbird very cool. At idle the CPU was at 30-35 degrees Celsius, and on load (3D Mark 06) it was at 50-54 degress Celsius. Pros:: - Very beautiful - For the cooling it provides, it's very quiet - Ease of use, I had it apart and together in about two minutes - Toolless, and what tool you do need is already included - Flush power and reset buttons (having a little son makes this nice) - Hidden Top I/O panel (again, having a little son makes this nice) - Nice, soft LEDs, non intrusive in any way. - LCD Poster Cons: - Heavy. Ridiculously heavy. If the Blackbird fell on my son, it would kill him. - HDD Trays. Everything in the case fits snugly and is sturdy, except the HDD Trays, which seem very flimsy. This is of course because you have to move one side to slide the HDD in... toolless, remember? Also, any empty trays above any filled trays will scratch along the surface of the HDD, which doesn't really hurt it, but makes a "nails on chalkboard sound" so, it's best to install the filled HDD trays first, and then the empty ones after. Conclusion:: Fantastic computer, completely worth it. The side panels are customizable if you wish, and while the white LEDs cannot be changed, it's not trying to be a Christmas Tree, but a sleek gaming rig. My understanding is that this computer's BIOS is extremely overclockable, but that's not my forte, hence the air cooling. Yes, I realize that the Core 2 series, (this CPU is G0 stepping) overclock well, but I'm perfectly content with what it already does. I haven't done any gaming on it, but I will shortly. Be on the lookout for a gaming update regarding how well it does, but be warned I don't play too much at a super high resolution. Total Score: 9.5/10. Was going to give it a 9/10, but then I figured out how the HDD Trays actually work while taking photos, so I added half a point. In other words, if you can afford it, get this rig! Just a bit of an update... the front fan that cools the GPU "tunnel" was really loud, and I think I accidentally reset the BIOS to default settings, so I went in and changed the fan speed to 60% (was at 100%) and ran 3D Mark 06 again... this time monitoring the video card temps. Idle was at 50ish, and Load was 70ish. Then I restarted, changed the fan to 80% and ran the test again. Same temps. So, I lowered the fan back to 60% and it's EXTREMELY QUIET now. So, I'm updating my score since I solved the HDD Tray issues and made the 'Bird even quieter. 10/10.