updated 12:00 am EST, Tue January 6, 2009
HP Firebird 800
HP's CES introductions are being headlined today by an entirely new entry to its desktop line. The Firebird 800 is built with help from the Voodoo sub-label and aims to take up the minimal amount of space of a small form factor desktop with the performance of a full tower, thanks to new Intel processors: new set of Core 2 Quad chips consume just 65W of power without losing features over previous 95W versions. A custom liquid cooling setup also cuts back on fan noise from the chip and simultaneously frees up space for accessing RAM and the two drop-in notebook hard drive bays.
The Firebird also represents the debut of new small-size NVIDIA parts. A more compact nForce 760S mainboard reduces the overall footprint of the system; an equally new GeForce 9800S graphics chip not only accommodates the power and heat requirements for the design but is small enough to let HP fit two of the video parts in SLI mode, bringing the PC's 3D performance closer to a full-size tower.
All models are built with recognition of their likely role as home theater or HDTV gaming PCs and get HDMI output and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo. The Firebird gets expansion options unusual to small desktops and has an ExpressCard/54 slot on top of single FireWire and dual eSATA jacks for external hard drives.
HP hasn't yet disclosed pricing but plans to introduce two core models. The 802 is the entry version and carries a 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad, 4GB of memory, 500GB of disk space split across two drives and a slot-load DVD burner on top of the NVIDIA hardware. The 803 steps up to a 2.83GHz Core 2 Quad with more cache, 640GB of total hard drive storage and a Blu-ray combo drive. It also brings new wireless options over 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi mini PCIe card.
The launch of Firebird potentially confirms plans for a new quad-core iMac, early details of which were leaked in November. The new all-in-ones are rumored due to launch this month, potentially at Tuesday's Macworld Expo keynote, and are said to include a new cooling arrangement to accommodate the slightly hotter-running quad-core CPUs. It's not known whether Apple will use the new GeForce or nForce components, though the company's MacBooks are entirely dependent on NVIDIA for controlling chipsets and graphics.