Despite falling down in our benchmarks, the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead is a powerful desktop PC with some pleasing components.

Chillblast’s Core i7-870-powered Fusion Hammerhead desktop PC contains some powerful components, but a poor showing in two components of our WorldBench 6 speed test leaves it at the bottom of the performance table with a score we’ve previously seen bettered by the 2.8GHz version of the same CPU. Outside these two sub-tests however, performance is as good as that of competing systems using the faster chip.

Graphics are provided by an ATI Radeon HD 5850, which offers DirectX 11.0 support and powerful gaming capabilities. With 37fps achieved in Crysis test (‘Very High’ settings) and 74fps in Stalker, the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead power desktop PC is more than able to hold its own.

A cool blue light emanates from the large front-facing fan of the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead power desktop PC's EZCool A200D system case, which offers plenty of room for expansion and side-facing drive bays for easy access. It’s not as impressive as some cases we’ve seen at this price point, but it does offer a top-mounted fan for added cooling.

The Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead power desktop PC's Asus motherboard supports USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA, enabling high-speed connections with the latest hard drives. Two memory slots are available, but there’s no capacity for adding a second graphics card.

A touch smaller than the other screens here, the 23in monitor still provides a full-HD resolution. You also get five speakers and a subwoofer with the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead power desktop PC but, sadly, no Blu-ray drive.

Power PCs chart ranking

Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 930-24 USB3
Arbico Elite i7-8785 HD
Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46
CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT
Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

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Despite falling down in our benchmarks, the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead is a powerful desktop PC with some pleasing components.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s 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-generation quad-core machine. However, some Core i7-900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7-800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7-900-series on performance.

Intel’s dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you’re buying a Core i7-based system, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such PCs install memory chips in threes). The Core i7-800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS 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 OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is considered small. With prices falling, it’s more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW. At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs – note that it won’t burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA support, enabling high-speed drives to be added.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

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-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 seen in three of the five PCs here is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 also supports DirectX 11.0 and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses. Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

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 unit at this price point or 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

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

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

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Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 700W EZCool PSU
  • 23in Digimate 2362WD (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 74/37fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 141/74fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 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: 135
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX motherboard
  • 700W EZCool PSU
  • 23in Digimate 2362WD (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 74/37fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 141/74fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 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: 135

OUR VERDICT

More than able to hold its own in gaming, and a touch faster in general Windows performance than our benchmark would suggest, the Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead is a decent power desktop PC, but unremarkable next to its rivals.

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