Despite little variation among the specs, Chillblast's Fusion Raven power desktop PC led the pack in both our general-use and gaming tests.

There’s little variation among the specifications of our Top 5 £751-£1,000 desktop PCs, and the Chillblast Fusion Raven power desktop PC’s 3.06GHz Core i7-950 processor and 6GB of DDR3 RAM is echoed by almost every other system in the chart. Its motherboard and graphics card are also popular choices.

It’s all the more of an accomplishment, then, that Chillblast’s Fusion Raven power desktop PC led the pack in both our general-use and gaming tests. With 150 points, its WorldBench 6 score is four points clear of its nearest rival. Its factory-overclocked Radeon HD 6870, meanwhile, delivered the fastest framerates.

Built around an Asus P6X58D-E motherboard, the Chillblast Fusion Raven power desktop PC supports USB 3.0 and 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) SATA. It also comes with three PCI Express x16 slots, allowing multiple graphics cards to be installed.

The 24in Samsung B2430 monitor is smaller than DinoPC’s 25in Hanns-G, but it’s a noticeable improvement over the budget HKC displays we’re used to seeing in this chart. It offers VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs, and is an ideal partner for the 12-speed Blu-ray combo drive. Films will sound as good as they look, with Chillblast also supplying five speakers and a subwoofer with its Fusion Raven power desktop PC.

The stealth black Cooler Master Elite 430 system case provides front-facing USB and audio ports near the top. It’s more compact than the Palicomp’s Cooler Master Scout case – and lacks some of that PC’s interior cooling – but the Chillblast Fusion Raven power desktop PC's build quality is superior.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Raven
  2. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU
  3. Mesh R&D 960
  4. DinoPC Fermisaur 870
  5. Eclipse Supernova Crossfire i795r687

NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Despite little variation among the specs, Chillblast's Fusion Raven power desktop PC led the pack in both our general-use and gaming tests.

Power desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7-900-series chips are taking this price bracket by storm. They’re a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine.

Alternatively, the latest 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 i7-900-based PC, 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: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’re even seeing systems with 2TB that cost less than £1,000.

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. You may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs, although it’s unlikely to offer BD-R writing, 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 outside and in.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you primarily intend to work 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 only provide analogue inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen and DirectX 11.0 support.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 is also DirectX 11.0-compatible and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses.
The GTX 460 is a good-value card, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice if you intend to add a second card.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

Many nVidia and ATI graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups later. To take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

X58-based motherboards supporting Intel’s Core i7-900-series processors are better equipped to deal with multi-card graphics solutions because of their improved PCI Express bandwidth.

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

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative’s Audigy 4 or X-Fi range. If you want a multimedia PC then don’t forget a set of speakers. You should be able to get a full 5.1 surround set at this price.

NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Raven: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 600W Xigmatek PSU
  • 24in Samsung B2430 (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 82/41fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 158/87fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Sweex speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/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: 150
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 600W Xigmatek PSU
  • 24in Samsung B2430 (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 82/41fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 158/87fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Sweex speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 16x/16x/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: 150

OUR VERDICT

Fastest across the board and providing a great selection of peripherals, Chillblast’s Fusion Raven power desktop PC is well deserving of first place.

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