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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  • Voldenuit - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Nice read, it's interesting to see what the boutique builds can do.

    My question is: what happens when you (manually) tame the voltages and power saving technologies in the system? Can it be brought down to idle more sensibly?

    No question that this should not be expected of the end-user (especially any end user who would buy such a high end rig instead of building their own), but I am curious how efficient a build such as the Blackops can be made to run.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    "especially any end user who would buy such a high end rig instead of building their own"

    When you are immersed with lots of work and little time, live in small dwellings like an apartment/studio, don't have spare parts to test damaged/DOA units, or just don't want to deal with one of the many complications/time that can come from a new build; then you might be one of those end-users that sees this as a viable alternative to building your own.

    Afterall, sites like iBuyPower are great in the fact that you're given the power that an HP/Dell/Apple just can't give you and while there is a little premium, it's only slightly larger than building it yourself - definitely not the markup of the said named brands.


    Your question of efficiency is unclear. The computer is plenty efficient when it's "sleep"ing :) Of course you can scale the power down, but why would you want to? You're paying all this money not to. You could also remove it from SLI, but again, why would you want to?

    I can see what you're getting at, but this isn't for a notebook, this is a gaming rig =D
  • marc1000 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    I second your question.

    "what happens when you (manually) tame the voltages and power saving technologies in the system? Can it be brought down to idle more sensibly?"
  • L. - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    This computer is a joke.
    Anyone who knows how to overclock will tell you this is overpriced, failed overclocking, cheap RAM and ... come on. Watercooling for this ?? this can be cooled on air any day (and maybe even with the stock cooler, around 80°C (lol) .

    The guy above says people who have the money but not the time could be interested, I agree but this one is a relatively bad combo.
  • bijeshn - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Aren't there any desktops in the market sporting a crossfire configuration? All your benchmarks are comparing SLI configs with a single 5870 (AVA Direct Nano Cube). Are they really comparable?
  • GeorgeH - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    The A-Data RAM ran flawlessly in the machine, but you'd rather see a different brand? Does <Brand X> RAM do something besides run flawlessly?

    You want a different 1200W PSU, but don't mention what's actually in the machine or why you want a Corsair supply? Why? Is the Corsair more efficient, or quieter?

    Your machine runs circles around this because it lacks E-Sata? Really? E-Sata is a $5 bracket, and the machine comes with USB 3.0. Digital audio is a flaw, but how many PC speakers accept digital inputs?

    You mention a price premium, but don't bother to spec out what that is? For the record the parts and OS will run you ~$2800, so it's about an $800 assembly and lazy overclock fee.

    Bottom line this seemed like a really lazy review.
  • Kaboose - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    agreed, seemed rushed, not well thought out and sloppy. -1
  • bah12 - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    The biggest flaw (and this is not Dustin's). Was the 1080p resolution game tests. IMO absolutely unacceptable, the type of person buying this rig would certainly "must have" a 30".

    This and yesterday's HTPC case review are 2 articles in a row where he is limited by testing equipment. I get it, he's new. But come on for pete's sake this is Anandtech one of if not the biggest tech site on web, get him a proper test bench or relegate him to news/editorials. Content for the sake of content is DT not AT.

    1080p gaming on a $3,500+ machine...shameful.
  • ClownPuncher - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    30" or a surround setup with 3 monitors. There wasn't any reason to bench this thing at 1920x1080.
  • landerf - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Not at all. 2560 displays are slow, expensive and downright a pointless pain to use. Everything is microscopic on them, and it's uncommon to spend 1/3 of your pc's price on the monitor. 1/8-1/10 is much more common. Having an absurdly highend rig I would like more than 1080p, but no more than 1400p

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