HP Blackbird 002 LC Gaming System Review
By far the most impressive aspect of the HP Blackbird 002 LC system is the design and though that went into the enclosure itself.
The case itself is a solid cast aluminum enclosure that rests on a raised "leg" of sorts. It has Plexiglas sides on it with a subtle yet cool looking design and the HP logo is gently introduced to the buyer instead of being forced upon them. It looks nice, it looks high tech and it looks high quality. It's heavy and feels like it's worth you money you are shelling out for it and that's an important trait in a world of cheap plastic computers.
The top of the Blackbird 002 is built like the entirety of the case and has ridges in it. The back of the top area is actually open and allows air to flow outward from the custom CPU water cooling setup.
At the front of the case is a push-retractable multimedia hub that includes a memory card reader, Firewire connection, two USB 2.0 connections and headphone and mic connections.
The case is elevated off the ground with a pedestal that holds it about four inches up. The enclosure is VERY heavy so this pedestal is very strong -- in fact, HP claimed in their promotional material it can hold 300 pounds without a problem. We'll test that later in the review...
The rear of the case looks pretty standard -- the power supply is mounted at the bottom of the enclosure and the only external connections NOT from the 680i motherboard is a single 8800 Ultra and 8-channel audio.
The external connections from the Asus 680i motherboard include two PS2 ports, an optical and coaxial audio output, dual Gigabit network cards, four USB 2.0 ports and a single Firewire connection. There are also two eSATA connections as well an LCD POST display. You can see our review of the Asus Striker Extreme for more detailed information on that board.
The front of case is also pretty unassuming with a similar appearance as the rest of it. There are two buttons on the front: power and reset and a couple of lights for power and hard drive activity. And while the front may look like there are no optical drives, they are actually just cleverly hidden.
Here you can see one standard optical drive on the left, actually a combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive. A small door is in front of it to hide it and to the right are two spots for slot loading optical drives.
Here you can see me closing the door in front of the standard optical drive. Some have commented to us that the slot loading drives will limit your upgrade paths, and while that may be true, I don't think it should be an issue for just about all users.
As I mentioned before the Blackbird case has very subtle HP branding that is classy enough to not bother enthusiast gamers. The silver switch on the left is to open the hinged door.
The left side of the case has a "window" that doesn't actually look into the case but has the nice design as the right hand side on it. There is a metal-mesh area near the rear of the case on the door that allows for air movement but doesn't have any fans installed on it.
This latch makes opening the door VERY easy and is a welcome change to the world of PC enclosures. There are a lot of unique changes inside the case that we'll explore on the next page.