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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  • azides - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    Before I start - kudos to Gilbert - vents, gaps, holes, ports - are a pain for dust. I am going to have to take my PC apart to clean my fans, arrrggghhh! It does not matter which side the ports are on, the fans will suck the dust in from anywhere.

    That being said, this is a crazy amount to spend on a PC, you will buy it with your hard earned cash and within a year it is not worth half as much; in two, a quarter; and in three, obsolete (in terms of gaming). Unless you game on a monitor in excess of 24" (i.e. 30", or multiple), the system is overkill as the benches show, probably overkill for a single 30".

    Unless you are all about bragging rights, year old tech is a good thing. Pay $1500 for your PC (sans monitor) and put the extra $2K in retirement or as an extra mortgage payment.
  • wolfman3k5 - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    While I agree that for a price tag north of $3000 the choice of the components is extremely poor (yet I would still say that A-Data is far better than OCZ), I don't understand why the fuck you all get so aggravated about a company trying to make money? Do you even have a fucking clue how much money and man power it takes to run a company, orchestrate the logistics, provide customer service & support, honor warranty claims, and so on? A bunch of you are bitching about how much better it is to go to Newegg and get the parts and twist some wires and build your own. Well guess what: most people that have $3000 to $4000 or more to spend on a computer don't have the time or the desire to mess with Newegg, debugging a computer system, spend precious time on forums to find out why something doesn't work and so on. People who have money to buy something like this have real jobs and make real money. They don't sit all day long on their fat asses in their mom's basement jerking off at waiting for the next Shell Shocker deal because they don't have any money to just buy something and be done with it. Also most people don't buy a computer every 3 months. They may buy one every 3 to 5 years. In the long run they save more money than most of you poor people waiting on your next Shell Shocker deal at Newegg. They also don't pay with a credit card for their shiny new toy, but with cash or their debit card. So for some people the extra $700~$800~$1000 is worth it because they never have to mess around with their own computer system. If it breaks, they box it up and send it away. Last but not least, I've seen allot of bitching in this article about the lazy overclocking, about how the cpu is not idling and so on. What the fuck man? It is an overclocked system, so there isn't going to be much idling. Lazy overclocking? Uhm, no. It would have been just as easy to set the base frequency to 200MHz and the ratio to 20x, but guess what: they want the system to last for a while, and if anything, by doing this the motherboard will live longer.

    The bottom line is that no one is making You, or You, or You moron buy a system from Digital Storm or any other boutique maker. If Newegg floats your boat so be it. If you have the time to put together a proper system and self support it, then you probably ave too much time on your hands and no real job, so as a consequence no real money either. I don't really care. I am pleased with my Digital Storm system, and I don't regret the $4500 that I've spent. I'm not going to buy another system until 2015, so why would I care? Most of you will have spent twice us much by then in money, time and resources just to upgrade and to keep up with the trends. Its just like with cars: most of you drive Hyundais, Kias and Toyotas, but some of us drive BMWs, Audis and Mercedes. Get a life losers!
  • cmdrdredd - Saturday, January 1, 2011 - link

    Woah, Woah, Woah...

    Now I agree with you about people who buy this have the money to pay someone else to do the work. However, to say I or others don't make real money and live in mom's basement? What do you base that on? Most people here spend more on a PC they built over the course of time than the $4500 you did. I don't drive a Kia either there fact my car is worth many times more than your BMW, and yes it costs more to buy in it's current condition than a Mercedes SL550 and has more HP. It might not be brand spanking new, but having a classic car and working on it brings some pride with it. Just like building your computer does for myself and many. Now maybe I can't go out and buy a BMW 750i with my current budget but that doesn't mean I cannot afford certain things either and by trying to get the best bang for the buck I'm less of a person for it.

    There is no reason to get all worked up either. I mean some people were a bit harsh, but those of us who go to newegg don't do it because we can't afford anything else. It's because we enjoy tinkering and building. Some people piece out their components in such a way as to get the maximum overclock. Why? No you're wrong already, it's not because they cannot afford an "extreme edition" CPU and are cutting corners. It's because we enjoy it. Just like I enjoy working on my car (yes my car can be worked on unlike your precious BMW and Mercedes). Just like a friend of mine used to say when I said "who buys that?"...his reply "there's a seat for every ass out there." That doesn't mean you or anyone is an ass, but that if you build it there will probably be someone who wants it. That's the way of things.
  • wolfman3k5 - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - link

    My comment was not targeted at you or those that like to thinker. I have a very specific group in mind. It's the cheapskates that always expect to get something for nothing, and take things so far that they are capable of harassing merchants to get what they want at the low low price that they want. I'm sorry if I offended you.
  • high5me - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    This kid is a moron, you obviously bought a system from digital storm. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would pay an extra 1000$ for a warranty? And let me explain something to you kid, i make well over 150,000$ a year, I have to PAY back during taxes. I love these poor kids who have their mommies and daddies buy them these systems and vouch for overpriced hardware.
  • ypsylon - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against AnandTech for delivering this review. It is reviewed system which is all wrong. For that kind of money that build is simply pathetic.

    Not a fan of liquid cooling/extreme OC, but if you want to do this, do it properly. Furthermore, what is the point using software built-in audio solution when you stuffed motherboard with 2 GTX580s? I bet that 99% of gamers [which building PC themselves] first thing they do is to turn off on-board sound when they enter the BIOS. "Ancient" SB Live will do better than any Realtek. Same with network card. 1 Intels NIC is better that any number of Realteks NIC [only Asus with Rampage Extreme 3 got it]. Storage area is seriously tiny. Couldn't care less about how many SSDs are there. SSDs are road to nowhere, as every new generation NAND lifespan is shorter and shorter. But 1TB HDD by todays standards is absolutely nothing. You can run out of space in a week without attempts to download whole interent. ;D

    In the end, I have to say (also someone picked on that note earlier). If you know few things about PCs why would you invest [ignoring the price] in pre-build system for your very own home-gaming-entertainment box? There is absolutely no fun in that. Bolting everything together is all what matters! :)
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Wrong. For the customers of boutique builders putting things together *isn't* fun and *doesnt* matter.

    Criticizing the build and builder value add? Fair

    Criticizing the very concept of a boutique builder? Ridiculous and judgemental

    I *only* assemble my own PCs and have for 30+ years and I see this clearly. Why is this such a hard concept for so many of you? Word of advice... Be careful about wrapping too much ego and identity into a hobbiest interest.
  • GullLars - Thursday, December 30, 2010 - link

    I have to say, after reading the spec list, i was expecting easy 20k+ PCMV total score, and was seriously underwhelmed.
    My setup with Phenom 1090T aircooled @ 4,4Ghz, 8GB kingston value-ram, a HD 6850, and 4x Crusial C300 in RAID-0, clocked in at 17941 PCmarks (vantage), total system costing around $1500.
    BTW, the 4x C300 64GB in RAID-0 from SB850 pulls around 1150MB/s sequential read and >100k 4KB random read IOPS, costing only ~$500.
    Link to orb: 3dmark com / compare / pcmv / 393980 / pcmv / 394018

    The 3Dmark results are impressing though, but could be higher with a decent clock.
  • oldscotch - Friday, December 31, 2010 - link

    I know onboard audio is pretty good these days. but for that kind of money I expect more than pretty good.
  • Chungster - Saturday, January 1, 2011 - link

    I'd be interested to see how it compares to an Origin PC. Sounds like this company is catering to the real high end of high end just like Origin.

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