Rather controversially, Chillblast has in the past used overclocking to boost its machines' performance scores, but the Fusion Raider 6600 resorts to no such tricks. Yet it still manages to achieve the highest benchmark figures in the £751-£1,000 PCs chart.


  1. Chillblast Fusion Raider 6600
  2. Mesh Elite GTS Media
  3. Evesham Solar Storm
  4. CyberPower Infinity 860
  5. Zoostorm 4-6405 Advanced PC

First place

Rather controversially, Chillblast has in the past used overclocking to boost its machines' performance scores, but the Fusion Raider 6600 resorts to no such tricks. Yet it still manages to achieve the highest benchmark figures in the £751-£1,000 PCs chart.

We can only assume that considerable care has gone into the selection of each component in this PC - how else can you explain the fact that, in our brand-new WorldBench 6 Vista test suite, it scores four points more than the CyberPower Infinity 860, despite that PC being powered by the E6700 version of the Intel Core 2 Duo rather than the Fusion's supposedly slower E6600? The E6600 is nevertheless a good choice, combining speed with value for money.

The Chillblast's 2GB of DDR RAM doesn't stand out - all four of its rivals match that figure - but its complement is top-notch PC2-6400 memory. This may partly explain the improved performance. The 320GB hard drive is reasonably capacious, and should be ample for most users.

All of this month's Top Five PCs use the GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card, but the Chillblast includes a 640MB rather than a 320MB version. In our games tests (including Fear and Company of Heroes), the Chillblast achieved the highest framerates of all.

HannsG isn't a major name in the display market, but the HW191DP is a very pleasing flat-panel with a steady, colourful image. Its quality is an improvement on the GNR screens and 22in models that are increasingly popular at this price.

Chillblast hasn't forgotten about sound, adding a gorgeous X-Fi XtremeMusic card. The Logitech speakers aren't the best we've seen, but this is a rare misstep in an otherwise flawless PC.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core 2 Duo chips have established themselves as the best in just about every category and the sizzling E6600 model is proving itself the chip of choice for £751-£1,000 PCs. The E6600 is amazingly fast and holds a significant advantage over its Athlon counterparts. That's not to say AMD processors can't still do a job - especially if your budget is closer to £751 than £1,000 - but for those with the full amount to spend, the E6600 remains peerless.

Memory: The age of the 2GB PC is upon us. Given the power and juggling space required by 2007's software titles, 1GB PCs won't cut it at the top level in the Vista era - skimp on memory now and you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. For the best performance, look for a high-quality memory maker such as Corsair.

Storage: It's hard to believe, but 250GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. All five of the manufacturers in our Top Five have included at least 320GB and, as Mesh and Zoostorm show, as much as 500GB is a possibility at this price. Make sure you get serial ATA cabling for rapid transfer rates. Cover backup with a multi-format DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are a must, and you should make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL with a minimum of eight-speed or more. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, look for good eight- or 10-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats to consider include DVD-RAM.

Display: Flat-panel screens can vary wildly in quality - preferably look for a 19in model with a DVI (digital visual interface) that can support a resolution of 1,280x1,024 or more. You may be able to stretch to a good 20in screen, but be careful if you're offered a 22in flat-panel at this price - the quality of the image on cheap 22in models tends to be patchy. Bear in mind that you'll have to stare at this screen for long periods, so picture quality is an important consideration. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so that the screen doesn't blur fast-moving images.

Graphics card: At this price, you should be able to get something rather startling. The nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS is making great waves in its 640MB incarnation, providing excellent graphics features and wonderful visual quality. It also packs DirectX 10.0 support, theoretically giving you access to some impressive games in the future - although it's too early to tell whether the card will be powerful enough to handle the demands of DirectX 10.0 in practice. Nonetheless, this is an excellent card for the money. The 320MB version of the 8800 GTS is also decent, although you will have to sacrifice a bit of detail.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds, with support for 7.1-channel sound now available - but it's no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a card from Creative's Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you want only 2.1-channel speakers then make sure they're high-quality, but most manufacturers are bundling 5.1 speakers. If you want audio excellence, you should hold out for a set of 7.1-channel speakers.

Chillblast Fusion Raider 6600: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5B-E motherboard
  • 8 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 640MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card
  • 2 x Logitech S200 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes CyberLink DVD Suite, Corsair TurboFlash Accelerator
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 106
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 320GB serial ATA
  • Asus P5B-E motherboard
  • 8 USB ports
  • 19in HannsG HW191DP flat-panel, 0.283mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 maximum resolution
  • 640MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS, PCI Express
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card
  • 2 x Logitech S200 speakers
  • maximum DVD speeds 16x/18x/18x (DVD -ROM/-R/+R) 8x/8x (-R DL/+R DL) 8x/8x/12x (-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • includes CyberLink DVD Suite, Corsair TurboFlash Accelerator
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score 106

OUR VERDICT

We're not keen on the speakers, but otherwise this PC is flawless.

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