Somewhat obviously named to lure Call of Duty fans into an upgrade, Chillblast’s Fusion Black Ops desktop PC is well-equipped to fulfill all your gaming needs.

Somewhat obviously named to lure Call of Duty fans into an upgrade, Chillblast’s Fusion Black Ops left the lab just a few days too early for us to test it with the game in question. However, fitted with a 23.6in full-HD monitor and one of AMD’s latest HD 6850 graphics cards, this desktop PC is well-equipped to fulfill all your gaming needs.

Chillblast has selected an Asus-modified Radeon HD 6850 graphics card with 1GB of video RAM for the Black Ops. This ‘DirectCu’ version includes a new printed circuit board and enhanced cooling, making it more amenable to overclocking than the standard HD 6850 – Asus has wound up the core clock from 775MHz to 790MHz. The Chillblast Fusion Black Ops desktop PC's motherboard also supports a second graphics card – plus high-speed USB 3.0.

The Chillblast Fusion Black Ops desktop PC uses the same 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760 processor found in all our Top 5 £501-£750 systems. It offers excellent performance for the money, and Chillblast has managed to eke out more speed from it than any other machine. It scored a very respectable 138 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

A 1TB hard drive and 4GB of DDR3 RAM are fairly standard inclusions, while the near-ubiquitous 23.6in full-HD HKC monitor and pair of Gigabyte stereo speakers finish off an attractive specification. However, as with the DinoPC, no subwoofer is supplied with the Chillblast Fusion Black Ops desktop PC.

Budget PCs chart ranking

  1. DinoPC Elmisaur 760
  2. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 760-24 6870
  3. Chillblast Fusion Black Ops
  4. Arbico i5 7668 Pro
  5. CyberPower Infinity Hercules

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NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Somewhat obviously named to lure Call of Duty fans into an upgrade, Chillblast’s Fusion Black Ops desktop PC is well-equipped to fulfill all your gaming needs.

Budget PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s latest naming scheme is confusing: if you want a quad-core PC, look for a Core i5-700-, 800- or 900-series CPU; the newer Core 5-600-series chips are dual-core.

Quad-core chips offer greater multiprocessing capabilities, but the higher clock speeds of dual-core chips mean they can run single-threaded applications faster. Non-gamers should note that their integrated graphics chips will allow them to play full-HD video without a discrete graphics card.

Intel’s 2.8GHz quad-core Core i5-760 is the current king of the £501-£750 desktop PCs category and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory.

AMD’s quad-core Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value for money, although they can’t match the Core i5 in our tests.

Some AMD processors contain hidden extra cores that can be enabled in the Bios. Ensure that any tweaks are backed by the vendor.

Memory: If a fast CPU speeds up your PC, a large bank of memory stops it from slowing down. Get the most out of your CPU with 4GB of RAM. You can get by with 2GB, however.

Core i5- and i7-800-series CPUs use DDR3 memory rather than DDR2, but there’s no need to buy the chips in threes as you do with i7-900-series systems.

Storage: Digital media will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive; buy the biggest you can afford. At least 500GB should be expected at this price point.

Consider using a pair of smaller hard drives rather than one large drive – a terabyte (1TB) is a huge amount of information to lose in one go.

With prices falling all the time, you may find a solid-state disk (SSD) affordable. The extra performance provided can transform your computing experience, but make sure you get one at least 60GB in size and install your programs on a second drive if you want to avoid running into drive-space problems.

Your DVD drive should write to the KR 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. Blu-ray readers are becoming more affordable, but they’re still quite rare at this price.

Display: Note that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in/22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 21.6in (16:9) flat-panels are capable of displaying full-HD content, but onscreen elements will be even smaller. You will now find many budget 23.6in displays available at this price.

A DVI or HDMI connector will provide a considerably better image than a VGA port; if you want to connect additional devices, you’ll need at least two.

Finally, look for a good response rate: 8ms or below is fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: We test graphics framerates with Crysis and Stalker: Call of Pripyat. The latter can benchmark DirectX 11.0-capable graphics cards. Although 25fps is enough to make a game playable, you can set your sights higher at this price point – look for 50fps.

Current pricing will limit you in this area, but ATI’s new Radeon HD 6850 offers excellent performance for the money. Cut back on other components and step up to a Radeon HD 6870 if gaming is very important to you. nVidia’s GeForce GTX 460 also offers good performance.

nVidia cards offer support for realistic object interactions in games supporting PhysX and are able to display 3D content.

If you don’t play games at all, consider using only the integrated graphics of Intel’s Core i5-600-series processors.

Power supply: A large power supply unit (PSU) is less vital at this price point, but look for a model with a full set of SATA and PCI Express connectors to make later upgrades easier.

Sound card and speakers: Most motherboards in this chart category depend on onboard sound. To get surround sound, look for a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

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NEXT PAGE: Expert verdict and specification

Chillblast Fusion Black Ops: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E motherboard
  • 500W FSP PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6850 DirectCu (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 72/34fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 135/70fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 138
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E motherboard
  • 500W FSP PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6850 DirectCu (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 72/34fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 135/70fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 138

OUR VERDICT

The fastest PC in our tests, the Chillblast Fusion Black Ops offers a very decent specification whether you’re interested in gaming or completing day-to-day Windows tasks. We’ve placed it behind the Palicomp because of its slightly slower graphics card and smaller hard-drive capacity.

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