Chillblast’s Fusion Nautilus desktop PC is a top performer, delivering a chart-leading performance score and the most convincing gaming framerates of all the machines on test.

Chillblast’s Fusion Nautilus desktop PC is a top performer. Despite being built around a slightly cheaper 2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750 processor and motherboard than the second-place Arbico, this quad-core system delivered a chart-leading WorldBench score of 137 points. And while it was beaten by the DinoPC in our Stalker: Call of Pripyat games test, the Chillblast’s overall gaming performance is the most convincing of all the machines on test.

Only 500GB of storage space is provided with the Chillblast Fusion Nautilus desktop PC, while CyberPower and DinoPC offer twice this capacity. Adding a second drive is a fairly simple upgrade, however, and one that’s all the more attractive given the Asus motherboard’s support for high-speed 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) SATA and USB 3.0. The motherboard also offers good expansion potential through add-in cards.

The Digimate monitor supplied with the Chillblast Fusion Nautilus desktop PC isn’t the best-looking screen we’ve seen, but its 23in display gives you a full-HD resolution with slightly bigger pixels than you’ll get from the Arbico or DinoPC, making onscreen text a little easier to read.

The Chillblast Fusion Nautilus is one of only two systems here to come with a set of external speakers. But don’t get too excited – the Gigabyte units supplied cost only £7.

The Chillblast Fusion Nautilus desktop PC is housed in an EZCool A200D case, which comes with tool-free drive bays and a meshed front panel to aid cooling; a blue LED-lit interior fan is visible from the outside – a nice or vulgar touch, depending on taste.

Budget PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Nautilus
  2. Arbico i7-9250 XL
  3. DinoPC Elmisaur 750 OC
  4. Eclipse Matrix i567r577
  5. CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Chillblast’s Fusion Nautilus desktop PC is a top performer, delivering a chart-leading performance score and the most convincing gaming framerates of all the machines on test.

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 i5-600 series 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 installed.

The dual-core Core i3-540 provides great performance and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory, but it lacks the integrated graphics and performance boosting features of the Core i5. 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 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 more.

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.

Your DVD drive should write to the +/-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. 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 may be able to get a 23.6in display at this price if you make compromises elsewhere.

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 with Crysis and Stalker: Call of Pripyat, the latter able to 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 Radeon HD 5770 and nVidia’s GeForce GTX 260 both deliver great performance and value for money, making the latest games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch.

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 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 at this price point depend on onboard sound. To get surround sound, look for a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Nautilus: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 700W EZCool PSU
  • 23in Digimate L-2362WD (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/25fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 108/45fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-4600 speakers
  • 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 137
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 700W EZCool PSU
  • 23in Digimate L-2362WD (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 68/25fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 108/45fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-4600 speakers
  • 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 137

OUR VERDICT

Chillblast’s Fusion Nautilus desktop PC combines some great features with the superior performance and flexibility of quad-core processing to take our Best Buy crown.

Find the best price