Software Evaluation
There is no denying that the hardware and design of the HP Blackbird 002 is impressive, but the other half of the story is what you get when you turn the computer on. 

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The HP system comes with Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit software, though on the site you can upgrade this to 64-bit which I highly recommend.  Upgrading your memory to 4GB and above is going to be the norm very soon as the 64-bit OS just makes this process easier.  You can also peek here and see that the 3.0 GHz processor is overclocked to 3.33 GHz right out of the box. 

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This is a welcome site indeed — notice the right side of the taskbar — no mystery applications or dozens icons showing bloatware installed.  Long the curse of the shelf systems, bloatware is what we call any software that is pre-installed on your system that isn’t necessary or uses up a lot of resources, or BOTH!  Taking a step away from HP would do on most desktop systems thanks to input from the Voodoo team, the software installed is basic and so the system can perform at its top levels. 

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One of the most common places for hidden bloatware is in Internet Explorer where system builders can make money by selling of your screen real estate.  Opening up IE on our test system shows absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

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To even further iterate this point, here is what shows up in the Add/Remove software control panel.  All the red lines indicate software that I had installed myself before deciding to take this screenshot.  Besides NVIDIA drivers, disc burning software and HD playback software, HP really has only added the flash plugin for IE, Adobe Reader and the AVG anti-virus software. 

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I had never used the HD/Blu-ray playback software that HP pre-installs but overall I was impressed with it.  The only problem that it needs to address is the fact that I had lower the resolution of my dual-link DVI monitor to 1280×800 in order to playback the protected content.  Ah, don’t you love HDCP and all those “consumer protections”?

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As I mentioned before, with the water cooling setup that the Blackbird 002 provides HP takes the liberty to push your new QX6850 processor even further.  Simply upping the multiplier from 9x to 10x allows them to push the 3.0 GHz core to 3.33 GHz for an extra boost of speed. 

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