Once again in our top price category we have a selection of systems that’s difficult to place in any definitive order. There are enough significant differences between them for any to warrant serious consideration as your best buy.

This time we’ve gone for Chillblast’s Fusion SuperNova – a top performer both in WorldBench 6, where it scores an impressive 125 points, and in gaming, with high performance in our Crysis and Fear tests.

Based on the popular Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 running at 3.16GHz, the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova offers heaps of performance, and can be overclocked to 3.6GHz. Our tests were all conducted at stock speeds.

To power the graphics, Chillblast has opted for a 1GB nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 for the Fusion SuperNova. With its dual-GPU design it delivers excellent gaming performance. Chillblast could have selected nVidia’s latest top-of-the-range monster, the GeForce GTX 280, but felt the older card gave better performance with many currently available games.

A terabyte of storage is provided in the form of a single Samsung Spinpoint F1 SATA-II hard drive, while the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova's Blu-ray drive can write to DVDs at up to 12-speed.

To benefit from the high resolutions afforded by a powerful graphics card, you need a good monitor. The Chillblast Fusion SuperNova's Digimate L2242WD may not offer top quality, but a native resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels is a good match for the GeForce 9800 GX2.

To capitalise on the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova's sonic capabilities, an X-Fi Xtreme Music sound card is installed, paired with five Creative A500 speakers and a subwoofer.

The GeForce 9800 GX2 may be a controversial choice, but the performance figures speak for themselves – the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova is an excellent all-round system.

Power desktop PCs: chart ranking (October issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion SuperNova
  2. CyberPower Gamer Infinity XT Elite
  3. Eclipse Titan iQX965A487
  4. Arbico Elite 4870
  5. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt

>>NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PC's buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (October issue)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duos are almost always the processors to go for: their performance is excellent for the price. But don’t power a standard desktop with a processor beginning with ‘E6’ – these chips’ time has passed.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for one of Intel’s latest quad-core processors, such as the Q9450. These deliver better performance than the previous generation of quad chips.

Memory: If you’re spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM. Assuming you’re running Windows Vista, any less than this will prevent your PC from reaching its full potential.

For a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, get 4GB of RAM in two modules, so you’ll have room for expansion later.
A 64bit operating system will help you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you’re using dual graphics cards – these sap RAM on 32bit systems.

Storage: Expect at least 500GB and probably 750GB at this price. Beyond this, go for a pair of such drives rather than a single larger unit. It’ll boost your performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or above – some more recent drives offer twice this speed. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

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

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our high-end PC charts. You may baulk at the idea of such a large PC screen, but 24in is currently the magic size where full 1,080p high-definition (HD) playback becomes available – so these monitors make ideal partners for Blu-ray Disc drives.

If this doesn’t appeal, 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HD multimedia interface (HDMI) is useful if you want to share your display with a games console.

Graphics card: It’s possible to spend an eye-watering amount of money on gaming hardware – a top-spec graphics card can easily cost more than the rest of the system put together. For a thrilling gaming experience we recommend an nVidia GeForce GTX280 or 9800 GX2. ATI’s Radeon HD 4870 is also a strong contender. Buying a single-card solution now keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more upgrade space available in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Sound card and speakers: There have been big steps forward in onboard sound, with support for 7.1-channel audio (seven speakers and a subwoofer), but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want stereo 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers, which allow full surround sound when watching films or playing games.

Chillblast Fusion SuperNova: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus P5Q Pro
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Digimate L-2442WD-VA DVI (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200 native resolution)
  • 1GB PCI Express PNY nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 (games scores: Crysis = 60fps
  • Fear = 235fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic
  • 5 x Creative Inspire A500
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Nero
  • OpenOffice
  • AVG Free
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 125
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (choose XP or Vista 64bit at no extra cost)
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Asus P5Q Pro
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 24in Digimate L-2442WD-VA DVI (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200 native resolution)
  • 1GB PCI Express PNY nVidia GeForce 9800 GX2 (games scores: Crysis = 60fps
  • Fear = 235fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic
  • 5 x Creative Inspire A500
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Nero
  • OpenOffice
  • AVG Free
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 125

OUR VERDICT

The GeForce 9800 GX2 may be a controversial choice, but the performance figures speak for themselves – the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova is an excellent all-round system.

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