Chillblast has stuck to a winning formula with the Fusion Anubis, producing a desktop system that offers superb gaming and general-purpose performance.

In our February issue, Chillblast's Fusion Osiris won the Best Buy award in this category. The company has stuck to its winning formula with the Fusion Anubis.

Only a few small tweaks separate this machine and its costlier sibling - the Chillblast Fusion Anubis' processor, hard drive, motherboard, memory, graphics and sound cards are all identical.

Intel's Core 2 Duo E8600 powers the Chillblast Fusion Anubis to an excellent 131 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test - a score that's hard to beat even with the most expensive components available.

Gamers will also be pleased with the Chillblast Fusion Anubis' HD 4850 graphics card. This is a popular choice this month, with all but one manufacturer swayed by its decent credentials and overall good gaming experience. You may need to wind down the quality a touch in demanding games such as Crysis, however.

The Chillblast Fusion Anubis' pair of Logitech S220 stereo speakers and subwoofer is an entry-level audio offering, but it's certainly an improvement on systems that rely on their monitor's built-in speakers. If you're looking for full surround sound, however, consider Mesh's Matrix II instead.

All the systems here come with 500GB hard drives and a 4GB allocation of DDR2 RAM. This will be perfectly adequate for most users, although the Chillblast Fusion Anubis also features two spare memory slots to expand its capacity.

The Chillblast Fusion Anubis' 22in Digimate monitor is notable for its VGA and DVI inputs, but its performance and features aren't as impressive as those of the CyberPower's Fujitsu-Siemens monitor. It also lacks the 1,080p (full-HD) resolution of Mesh's Iiyama.

Budget PCs chart ranking (April 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Anubis
  2. Arbico CD8850 XL
  3. Mesh Matrix II 920
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Silent Edition
  5. Zoostorm 64-5300

>> NEXT PAGE: Budget desktop PCs buying advice

Budget PCs buying advice (April 09 issue)

Processor: Intel's Core 2 Duo range offers almost unbeatable performance for the price. The 3.33GHz E8600 now supersedes the E8500 as the CPU of choice, appearing in the vast majority of desktop PCs in this price category.

Alternatively, go for one of Intel's latest quad-core chips, such as the Q9300. These processors are performing well with newer applications and games. Older Q6600 chips offer good performance with multithreaded apps, but only go for them if the price is right.

AMD's latest Phenom II X4 920 also offers excellent value for money and quad-core performance.

Memory: If fast processors speed up your PC, a large bank of memory stops it from slowing down. Get the most out of your CPU by including at least 4GB of RAM. You can get by with 2GB, but your PC ?will run more smoothly with 4GB.

Storage: Digital media will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive, so buy the biggest you can afford. A 400GB-500GB drive is a good investment. If you've got space, consider a pair of smaller drives - a terabyte (1TB) is a huge amount of information to lose in one go.

Your DVD drive should write to the -R/+R formats at 18-speed or better. Eight-speed rewriting is good; if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for fast DVD-/+R dual-layer drives. Drives that can read Blu-ray are becoming affordable, but they're still quite rare at this price.

Display: Many PC manufacturers make sacrifices here to keep costs down. But a poor monitor can ruin your computing experience - try it out before buying.

At this price you may get a 19in, 20in or 22in model. Be aware that 19in displays offer lower resolution; 20in and 22in displays usually offer the same resolution, with 22in models displaying larger icons.

A DVI or HDMI connector will provide a considerably better image than a VGA port, so look for a display with a digital input; if you want to connect additional devices you'll need at least two. Finally, look for a good response rate: 8ms or below should be fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: Really hardcore gamers are unlikely to be happy with a sub-£750 PC, but you should be able to find a decent graphics card at this price.

We test PCs on the three-year-old game Fear, and Crysis, a far more demanding title. Although 50fps is enough to make a game playable, you can set your sights higher in this category - look for 80-100fps for decent gameplay.

ATI's Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 and nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards deliver excellent performance and value for money, making even cutting-edge games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch.

Sound card and speakers: You may find a budget sound card at this price, but most motherboards depend on a decent built-in audio chip that can handle six-channel sound. To get surround sound you'll need a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer). You may be offered a 2.1-channel stereo system, which will be good enough for most users. A monitor's built-in speakers seldom offer a satisfying audio experience.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Anubis: Specs

  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit with no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI P43 Neo3-F
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Digimate L-2248WD (0.29mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4850 (games scores: Crysis High = 55fps, Very High = 20fps
  • Fear = 174fps)
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • AVG Free
  • Nero
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131
  • 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit with no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI P43 Neo3-F
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Digimate L-2248WD (0.29mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 512MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4850 (games scores: Crysis High = 55fps, Very High = 20fps
  • Fear = 174fps)
  • Creative Audigy SE 7.1
  • 2 x Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • AVG Free
  • Nero
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131

OUR VERDICT

Top desktop performance, combined with a two-year collect-and-return warranty, make the Chillblast Fusion Anubis an excellent choice. However, better gaming scores are available from Zoostorm.

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