In 2006, Dell and Hewlett-Packard both went after PC makers specializing in high-end gaming systems. Dell bought Alienware and HP acquired Voodoo. Dell’s strategy remains opaque, with a lack of clear positioning of Alienware’s desktops and laptops vs. the Dell-branded premium XPS line. HP’s marketing approach is becoming much clearer with the launch of the Blackbird 002 super-premium desktop. While maintaining the independence of Voodoo, HP’s personal systems group is using Voodoo’s mojo to bring some pizzazz to the HP desktop line.

The Blackbird 002 is an impressive beast. Almost everything about it is customizable: It features and 11 power supply, room for two oversized video cards, up to 4 terabytes of storage on a five-disk array, a maximum of 16 gigabytes of memory, and optional liquid cooling to keep the monster from melting. All this gear is housed in an aggressively styles wedge-shaped metal case and weighs in an a hernia-inducing 72 lb.

Initially, the Blackbird 002 (Blackbird was a development codename that HP simply decided to keep as the real product name) is available in a $5,500 "Dedication edition" featuring an overclocked Intel Core 2 Extreme processor, dual nVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics adaters, 660 gigabytes of storage, and 2 GB of RAM. When the full product line goes on sale later this fall, prices will start at about $2,500 and top out at over $7,000.

At those prices, HP obviously does not expect this to be a high-volume seller. In addition to gamers, who may prefer to stick with the Voodoo brand, the target audience includes filmmakers and medical imagers.

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