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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  • purrcatian - Saturday, January 1, 2011 - link

    The article mentions that they used a cheap power supply, but it never mentions which one. What is it? That really matters. From the pictures it kinda looks like the CoolMax one that ZZF has for $99.99 with free shipping (currently out of stock), but everyone on Newegg said that it wouldn't last more than a year, sometimes only lasting only few weeks with the average appearing to be a few months, and it would sometimes fry some parts when it died. That could be a real deal breaker if the PSU keeps dieing, especially if it takes your data with it.
  • Jgg@0115 - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - link

    I am the type of guy who would consider a boutique computer store. I do not know enough about computer to overclock. I have tried and it does not work. Maybe its parts on the pc, maybe its my general ignornace, and/or maybe it the guide I followed.

    My friends who can and do build systems all advise not to over clock under any circumstances. If I take them a bunch of parts they will not do it. Si I am left with the alternative of cobbling together systems that need upgrades every other year or I can buy a more reasonably priced overclocked DS Assasin for about $2.5k.
  • oldscotch - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - link

    You can often buy pre-overclocked video cards with full warranty, eVGA, XFX, MSI, etc - look around for reviews on specific cards to see how the performance improves.

    As to processors, well you still have to do that on your own if you want. But it's dead easy if you buy a black edition AMD cpu. You literally adjust one setting and that's it.
  • akash1988 - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - link

    This is pure wastage. You can buy 11 PlayStation 3, with this amount. So 11 gamers could benefit, and can play games in HD, and also enjoy exclusives like God of War 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, etc.. which wont be on the PCs.

    So buying such a rig for PC gaming is pure foolishness.
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Yes, good comment.. PCs are ridiculous. The pS3 is all anyone needs for gaming... Now why are you on Anand?
  • Hrel - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - link

    Nice to see 1080p used in the benchmarks. Can't wait for Bench to get fully upgraded. Hopefully, at least for the $200 and lower GPU's, you'll include results for 1600x900 and 720p.

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