Chillblast's Fusion Condor is an expensive desktop PC system, but it justifies its price tag with excellent performance, a feature-packed specification and the latest DirectX 11.0 graphics technology.

Chillblast's Fusion Condor is an expensive system, but it justifies its price tag with excellent performance, a feature-packed specification and the latest DirectX 11.0 graphics technology.

Based on an Intel Core i7 950 running at 3.06GHz, the Chillblast Fusion Condor is easily powerful enough to cope with any task you throw at it. Its WorldBench 6 score of 148 points is narrowly beaten by other systems based on the i7 950, but none of the competition delivers quite as much in one package.

Two 500GB hard drives are combined in a high-performance Raid 0 configuration; a third is supplied for backups. A high-speed DVD burner and separate Blu-ray drive are also provided with the Chillblast Fusion Condor.

Film buffs will appreciate the Chillblast Fusion Condor's multimedia credentials, which include a 24in Acer full-HD monitor and a 5.1-channel speaker set (five speakers and a subwoofer).

An ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card contributes greatly to the cost and still struggles to beat the CyberPower's twin HD 4890 cards. Nonetheless, the Chillblast Fusion Condor's single-chip solution offers excellent performance, an easy upgrade path and DirectX 11.0 support; and, unlike the Arbico's dual-chip setup, it doesn't rely on games that efficiently support CrossFireX. The HD 5870 also provides twin DVI outputs, an HDMI socket and a DisplayPort connector.


Power PCs chart ranking: February 10 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Condor
  2. Eclipse Titan i795R585
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven
  4. Arbico Elite 9590 HD
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 i796R489

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice



Chillblast's Fusion Condor is an expensive system, but it justifies its price tag with excellent performance, a feature-packed specification and the latest DirectX 11.0 graphics technology.


Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel's quad-core Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, although they require more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. At this price, the Core i7 950 or 960 would be a great choice.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 PC should come with at least 6GB of RAM (although 3GB is acceptable if it compensates with other extras). For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.
The triple-channel architecture of Core i7 9XX-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7 8XX-series CPUs use a two-channel system, which will save you some cash. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 RAM, but the price of such memory is falling fast. A 64bit operating system can take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you're running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect at least a terabyte. Look for a pair or even a trio of drives rather than a single unit; it will boost performance and prevent the risk of total data loss. Raid setups are an option. Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs can provide speed boosts, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or above. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on DVD speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup.

Display: We're seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our PC charts. This used to be the magic size at which 1080p (full-HD) playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, some of the newest 22in (16:9) monitors can also display full-HD - and with a considerable saving, making them excellent value for money.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices such as games consoles without having to switch cables.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia's GeForce GTX 285 or GTX 295 and AMD's DirectX 11.0-compatible ATI Radeon HD 5870. The GTX 275 and HD 4890 cards also offer great performance and very good value for money. Radeon cards seem to be the current favourite for raw performance, but nVidia's cards offer unique features such as support for PhysX in-game physics effects and stereoscopic 3D using special glasses.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value and are approved by chip manufacturers. Buying a single-card setup keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you're considering any upgrades, check that the motherboard offers enough memory slots to support the chips. SLI or CrossFireX support will enable to you add extra graphics cards to boost your gaming performance.

Power supply: The level of power you require will largely depend on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for a known and respected brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual-card setup later. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or X-Fi card at this price. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they're high-quality models.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Condor: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7 950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA 92 in Raid 0 configuration)
  • Asus P6T Se
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 720W Gigabyte PSU
  • 24in Acer V243H BD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1200)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/41fps
  • Fear = 352fps)
  • onboard HE Audio 7.1
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 148
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7 950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA 92 in Raid 0 configuration)
  • Asus P6T Se
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 720W Gigabyte PSU
  • 24in Acer V243H BD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1200)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/41fps
  • Fear = 352fps)
  • onboard HE Audio 7.1
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 148

OUR VERDICT

Our only gripes with the Chillblast Fusion Condor concern its low-quality system case and a 720W power supply; the latter may need upgrading if you choose to double the graphics power with a second 5870.

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