Chillblast's Fusion Pinnacle power desktop PC offers good multimedia capabilities, with a Blu-ray drive, a full-HD monitor, five stereo speakers, a staggering 2.5TB of storage and USB 3.0 support for the latest high-speed external hard drives.

Chillblast's Fusion Pinnacle offers good multimedia capabilities out of the box. Its Core i7 920 is a formidable processor - even if the 930 seen in the third-placed Arbico is gearing up to replace it - but it demands a pricey 6GB of RAM and a socket 1366 motherboard.

The Gigabyte motherboard used by the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle is rather special, however. It supports super-fast 6GB per second (GBps) SATA, and USB 3.0, allowing you to take advantage of the latest high-speed external hard drives.

Despite being one of the more expensive PCs here, the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle delivers performance that's only middling by the lofty standards of this chart: it scored 138 WorldBench 6 points. Its gaming performance is standard for the group, thanks to a Radeon HD 5870 graphics card.

The 24in full-HD monitor supplied with the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle is one of the latest models in BenQ's range of LED displays. It offers improved image quality and reduced power consumption compared to traditional models. It also incorporates both analogue VGA and digital (DVI) inputs.

Chillblast further plays to multimedia fans' needs with a massive 2.5 terabytes (TB) of storage. The Fusion Pinnacle pairs two 1TB drives in a Raid 0 array for high-speed performance, while a separate 500GB drive is ideal for backing up important data.

A Blu-ray drive is provided in addition to the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle's DVD burner, ensuring you don't have to sacrifice DVD write speeds. You'll also get five speakers and a subwoofer, making the Pinnacle a powerful HD multimedia system.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (June issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle
  2. Mesh Ice7 5870 HD
  3. Arbico Elite 9387 HD
  4. CyberPower Infinity Hades GT
  5. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Chillblast's Fusion Pinnacle power desktop PC offers good multimedia capabilities, with a Blu-ray drive, a full-HD monitor, five stereo speakers, a staggering 2.5TB of storage and USB 3.0 support for the latest high-speed external hard drives.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, although they require more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. The Core i7 950 or 960 are good choices at this price, or you can save money by opting for an i7 930. Core i7 860 chips cost even less.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM, although 3GB is acceptable if the manufacturer compensates with other extras. For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow 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 1TB. Look for a pair or even a trio of drives rather than a single unit to reduce the risk of total data loss, although noise levels will increase. Raid setups are an option for speed at the expense of reliability. Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs provide speed boosts, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.

Dual-layer DVD+/-R capabilities are useful, preferably 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.

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.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while 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 you to 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.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle: Specs

  • 2.79GHz (turbo)/2.66GHz (nominal) Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2x 1TB (Raid 0) + 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 700W Xigmatek PSU
  • 24in BenQ G2420HDBL (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 71/43fps
  • Fear = 51fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 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: 138
  • 2.79GHz (turbo)/2.66GHz (nominal) Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2x 1TB (Raid 0) + 500GB SATA
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 700W Xigmatek PSU
  • 24in BenQ G2420HDBL (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 71/43fps
  • Fear = 51fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 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: 138

OUR VERDICT

Offering excellent multimedia options and future-proofing in the form of USB 3.0 and SATA 6GBps, the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle comes highly recommended.

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