The Chillblast Fusion Fury is a thoughtfully constructed system, built using premium components. It's housed in a black Cooler Master Elite 334 case - a small step up from the Elite 330 used by Arbico - which features a mesh front panel and pair of front-facing USB ports.

The 22in Digimate monitor looks somewhat chunky and old-fashioned compared to some of the competition, with its two-tone black-and-silver finish lending it a ‘back to the 1970s' appearance. It houses two large, front-facing speakers, but you'll get better sound quality from the external Logitech speakers and subwoofer also supplied with the Chillblast Fusion Fury. It comes with a digital input for improved image quality, too.

We were pleased to find that Chillblast has installed a heavy-duty 750W Thermaltake power supply, providing ample capacity for upgrading and overclocking components. While this may seem a little over-specified for a system that uses a single ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card, the MSI X58 Pro motherboard has the space available to add two more graphics cards and boost the Chillblast Fusion Fury's already superb gaming performance.

You also get a terabyte (1TB) hard drive, which means that the Chillblast Fusion Fury delivers twice the storage of most of the competition.

Although the Chillblast Fusion Fury performed well in our WorldBench 6 processing-speed test suite, scoring an impressive 126 points, it's beaten by the other Core i7-based systems in the chart, albeit by a small margin. Neither do you get a Blu-ray drive or surround-sound speakers.


Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Fury
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. Mesh Whisper 4850 HD
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

Processor: Intel's new Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It's a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-gen quad-core machine. However, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Dual-core CPUs are still popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower overall system costs. Intel's E8600 chip offers the best performance.

Quad-core processors, such as the Q9400, are another option. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core PCs and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based PC, however, expect 3GB (such PCs install memory chips in threes). A 64bit operating system will take full advantage of your RAM - but check that your software and drivers will be supported.

If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit operating system is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices continuing to fall, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte of storage at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL; DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you should be able to find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: 22in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply budget screens, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work with digital photos or video. Try before you buy to ensure you can put up with the quality.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

If you're a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9 format 22in+ displays that offer full-HD playback.

Graphics card: At this price, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280) and the Radeon HD 4870 - most of our Top 5 go for the HD 4870.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible. Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can work out more expensive.

The HD 4890 should soon be available at a competitive price, offering a decent speed boost over the HD 4870.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W PSU at this price point, but consider 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual card solution later. Overclocking will also demand a powerful, high-quality PSU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

Chillblast Fusion Fury: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (choose XP or Vista 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Pro motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 750W Thermaltake ToughPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L-2231WD flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 67/26fps
  • Fear = 224fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound card
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • Nero
  • AVG Free
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 126
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit (choose XP or Vista 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Pro motherboard
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 750W Thermaltake ToughPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L-2231WD flat-panel monitor (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1,024MB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 67/26fps
  • Fear = 224fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound card
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • OpenOffice
  • Nero
  • AVG Free
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 126

OUR VERDICT

The Chillblast Fusion Fury is a highly specified and well-engineered machine that performs well and comes with bags of upgrade potential.

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