HP Blackbird 002 4K Video Editing Workstation Build Guide: RGB Rebirth

Continuing our series on the HP Blackbird 002 chassis, today we are completely rebuilding our HP Blackbird Video Production Workstation and bringing it up to 2018 standards with an Intel Core i7-8700K and an EVGA GTX 1080 Ti Black Edition. As you’ll soon see, these components will provide a monumental upgrade to a legendary and ultra-rare computer case. Over a decade old now, the HP Blackbird is a timeless classic that’s always fun to revisit and work in. Enough talk, let’s get to it!

hp blackbird build guide review

Total Teardown

Before we get to the new parts, here’s what we’re replacing. Aside from the 1TB Samsung 850 EVO and ASUS DVD drive, everything else will be upgraded.

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4771 3.5 GHz 4-Core
  • CPU Cooler: Custom Asetek LCLC 240mm w/VooDoo CPU Block Cover
  • Radiator Fans: 2x Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition 120MM 1,450 RPM
  • Motherboard: ASUS Z87-K ATX LGA 1150
  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1600 SDRAM
  • Storage: Corsair Force GT 120GB 2.5″ SATA III SSD Mounted Via WD IcePack
  • Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5” SATA III SSD Mounted Via WD IcePack
  • Video Card: EVGA GTX 570 HD
  • Optical Drive: 5.25” ASUS DRW-24F1ST DVD-RW Drive
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM750 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX
  • Case: HP Blackbird 002

One last look through the vents with the side panel closed before the big upgrade!

hp blackbird side

Taking off the primary side panel we can see the ASUS Z87-K motherboard populated with the Corsair Vengeance DDR3 RAM and the original Asetek LCLC AIO liquid cooling unit which is remarkably still running after 11 years! I’m pretty sure we hold the record on this one!

hp blackbird before rebuild

With the small side panel opened, you can see the now ancient EVGA GTX 570 HD graphics card and the plastic divider above it which separates the CPU chamber from the GPU and PCIe card chamber. There is also a plastic cover in the bottom right corner which hides the power supply cables.

hp blackbird side panel off

And they’re gone!

hp blackbird interior panels removed

Here’s a quick view of the back with the side panel removed. Cable management on the old build isn’t too shabby.

hp blackbird cable management before

Back to the front of the case, we began by removing the EVGA GTX 570 and Corsair Vengeance RAM, leaving just the motherboard and CPU cooler.

hp blackbird liquid cooling system upgrade

Next, we removed the radiator fans by unscrewing the screw holding the tray into the primary radiator mount. We also removed the CPU block, retention ring and backplate from the motherboard.

hp blackbird fan upgrade

To remove the AIO, two screws that secure the radiator housing to the top of the case must be unscrewed and then the housing is removed by maneuvering it out of place.

hp blackbird liquid cooling system removal

After removing the motherboard, we compared the old ASUS Z87-K to the new EVGA Z370 Classified K. Wow has a lot changed since 2013! There were no M.2 slots, shielded PCI-express or memory slots and look at all those regular PCI slots. You don’t see those anymore!

hp blackbird motherboard upgrade

Rebuilding, From the Ground Up

That’s brings us to our new parts list:

We began by installing our Intel Core i7-8700K into the EVGA Z370 Classified K.

evga z370 classified k i7 8700k

Then we added the two Gigabyte Aorus RGB RAM DIMMs.

evga z370 classified k gigabyte aorus rgb ram

Part of Gigabyte’s awesome new RAM kit is the inclusion of two demo modules. They look just like regular RAM sticks, with the same heatsink and RGB lights. We populated the remaining two RAM slots with the demo modules.

gigabyte aorus rgb ram

We haven’t even put it in the case yet and this RAM/motherboard combo looks amazing!

gigabyte aorus rgb ram build

The Western Digital M.2 SSDs were easily installed on the motherboard. We strongly believe that M.2 SSDs are the best consumer storage solution and the combination of the 1TB WD Black NVMe and the 2TB WD Blue is a most effective fusion of speed and storage space! The operating system, programs and commonly used files will populate the WD Black NVMe drive while the 2TB WD Blue will provide a gargantuan warehouse for large 4K video and picture files.

western digital wd blue 2tb m.2 ssd

Here is the processor, memory and M.2 storage filling out the Classified K motherboard.

wd black nvme wd blue m.2 ssds

Next, we retired the old Corsair SP120s in favor of two In Win Polaris RGB 120mm fans. These are among our favorite fans, with a classy design and the killer feature of being daisy chainable, running the PWM and RGB connection off one wire. The In Win Polaris fans are instantly indispensable!

hp blackbird radiator fan upgrade

To swap out the radiator fans on the Blackbird you just flip the tray over, unscrew the existing fans and screw the new ones in.

hp blackbird how to upgrade fan

We also took this opportunity to remove the last remaining Delta fan that shipped with the Blackbird all those years ago. It rests in a housing that doubles as a PCIe card holder and is located adjacent the hard drive bays.

hp blackbird hard drive bay fan upgrade

Speaking of hard drive bays, here’s a shot of the SATA backplane that allows you to hot-swap SATA drive in the five 3.5” drive caddies. Not only does it provide a passthrough for the SATA power and data cables, it also powers the LED lights at the top, front, bottom and back of the case. It is powered by either a SATA data, two molex or a special 10-pin connector that was compatible with the original Topower Powerbird power supply.

hp blackbird 002 backplane

One of the two parts we retained was the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB 2.5” SATA III SSD.

samsung 850 evo 1tb ssd hard drive adapter

Here is the new Seasonic Prime Snow Silent 650W platinum rated power supply next to the old Corsair RM750.

hp blackbird power supply upgrade

The Prime Snow Silent is among the most beautiful power supplies ever built.

seasonic prime snow silent vs corsair rm power supply

Seasonic’s offering has additional PCIe and CPU power connections.

seasonic prime snow silent vs corsair power supply

Next, we installed the EVGA CLC 240 AIO liquid cooling unit to replace the decade plus old Asetek LCLC 240 unit that had become obnoxiously noisy and inefficient over the years. While the CLC 240 is also an Asetek unit, the new sleeved tubing which is far superior to the old stiff, ribbed tubing uses a slightly larger connection where it meets the radiator. This makes it difficult to install without modification.

evga clc 240 installation

There are a few ways around this. One is to mod the Blackbird’s radiator housing by cutting the end off, so the tubes fit. The other is to install the radiator in the housing and use the four out of eight screws that still line up. We had previously cut the housing on another Blackbird but wanted to try the second method this time around given how secure the radiator is when the housing is reinstalled in the Blackbird.

It worked, with no issues.

hp blackbird evga clc 240

After installing the now fully outfitted Classified K into the Blackbird we couldn’t help but marvel at how great everything looked! It’s almost as if they were made for each other!

hp blackbird motherboard installation

Here’s a quick comparison of the 2010 era EVGA GTX 570 and the modern EVGA GTX 1080 Ti Black Edition.

hp blackbird gpu upgrade

The GTX 570 looks like a toy compared to the behemoth that is the GTX 1080 Ti.

evga gtx 570 vs 1080 ti

The back of the GTX 570 looks naked without a backplate.

evga gpu backplate vs no backplate

We haven’t even gotten around to cable management yet!

hp blackbird messy cables

HP Blackbird 002 with the EVGA GTX 1080 Ti Black Edition for scale!

hp blackbird gtx 1080 ti

The GTX 1080 Ti installed in the Classified K with a CLC 240 to match.

hp blackbird gtx 1080 ti upgrade

Here are the tool-less PCIe clips that secure expansion cards in without the need for screws. They are very fragile though and I’ve seen them missing on many Blackbirds as they tend to fall off after several years of use. To fix them, one method is to super glue them back on.

hp blackbird pci express slots

Here’s the GTX 1080 Ti with the original PCIe power cables that shipped with the Blackbird. We would later find out that they would need to be swapped out for flat cables as the cord chokes prevented the small interior side door from closing.

hp blackbird 8700k 1080 ti

The back of the Blackbird. The standouts here are the EVGA Z370 Classified K’s beautiful rear IO with all those blue USB 3.0 ports and double LAN ports as well as the Seasonic Prime Snow Silent creating a white/black theme all on its own.

hp blackbird back

Finally getting around to cable management on the back of the case. Pretty close to the way Voodoo/HP did it back in the day. With no channels to run the cables, you need to position them to be as flat as possible, so the rear side panel can close.

hp blackbird cable management after

Here’s a closeup of the backplane where you can see the SATA data cables coming out as well as the lighting controls. You can switch off any or all of the LEDs on this cleverly designed circuit board. The red and black wire you see at the bottom going under the backplane is for the case speaker which is installed under the hard drive bays.

hp blackbird 002 backplane rear

We closed the rear side panel. Here you can also see the giant cast iron foot with the optional wings installed on the left and right.

hp blackbird back motherboard power supply

Getting ready to button up the primary side panel now that the GPU cables have been swapped out.

hp blackbird evga build

Here it is closed. You can see the reflection of everything above the small door in the plastic chamber separation panel directly above the GPU.

hp blackbird 2018

There’s still some Voodoo DNA left. The tool you see above can be used to unscrew motherboard screws, etc. there are also four additional motherboard standoffs and hex screws as the Blackbird can fit E-ATX boards.

hp blackbird 2018 build

Here’s the front IO panel that pops-up. It’s got a memory card reader with support for almost every type imaginable, two USB 2.0 ports, headphone, microphone and yes that’s a FireWire port that’s been out of service for ages now!

hp blackbird front io

Getting ready to close her up.

hp blackbird build

Back to the beginning, you almost wish that tempered glass side panels had been around in 2007! Perhaps a mod for another day.

hp blackbird side panel closed

Complete Build Gallery

RGB Gallery

Conclusion

It was extremely fun to build in the HP Blackbird 002 again! This time we went all out and upgraded all components and brought a five year old build up to date in every possible aspect. The HP Blackbird remains a truly special case that was in many ways ahead of its time. If you happen to own or are considering purchasing one of these super rare computer cases, we hope this guide serves as an example of the type of high-end build that is possible.

All the components used are highly recommended, we have used many of them across several build guides, tested them extensively and have yet to be let down. The few parts that have not been reviewed will receive reviews over the next week or so. Check our Twitter often to be alerted as soon as new builds and reviews are up!

Feel free to email us with any questions.

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