The Chillblast Fusion Zeus' Core i7-2600K processor has been specially designed for safe and simple overclocking. As standard, this PC scored a still very fast 163 points in WorldBench 6.

We test all PCs at their standard settings, but the Chillblast Fusion Zeus' Core i7-2600K processor has been specially designed for safe and simple overclocking. As standard, however, this desktop PC is only the joint-third fastest on test. It scored a still very fast 163 points in WorldBench 6.

The Chillblast Fusion Zeus has the largest monitor here at 25in. This impressive display helps you take full advantage of the Blu-ray drive. Factor in the set of 5.1-channel surround speakers and the Fusion Zeus makes for a competent multimedia PC.

Gaming performance is also excellent. The Chillblast Fusion Zeus PC's Radeon HD 6870 makes light work of even the most demanding games.

We’re less taken with other parts of this PC’s specification, however. For a start, the Chillblast Fusion Zeus's4GB allocation of DDR3 RAM is only half that supplied by Arbico and Dino PC – and the latter also provides an SSD.

But our main gripe is with Chillblast’s decision to install the ‘LE’ version of the P8P67 motherboard. This is a good budget board that offers support for 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0, but it lacks a graphical EFI and most of the overclocking facilities of the ‘Pro’ and standard versions of the board.

It’s ironic, then, that it’s only in the Chillblast Fusion Zeus PC that we see the ‘K’ version of the i7-2600 CPU.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Phoenix i7 2600-24 BLU
  2. Arbico Elite i7268 HDX
  3. Chillblast Fusion Zeus
  4. CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition
  5. Dino PC Ravenous 2600

Also see:

Next page: Buying advice

The Chillblast Fusion Zeus' Core i7-2600K processor has been specially designed for safe and simple overclocking. As standard, this PC scored a still very fast 163 points in WorldBench 6.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i5/i7 CPUs are currently the only serious contenders in this price category, having utterly outclassed the previous-generation of Core i7-800 and 900 processors. These chips are much faster and use less power.

The 3.4GHz i7-2600K is the fastest in the series, with the ‘K’ denoting an unlocked multiplier that offers safe and simple overclocking.

At 3.3GHz, the Core i5-2500K offers a slightly lower specification. It has no support for hyperthreading and 6MB rather than 8MB of level 3 cache.

Both chips are also available in cheaper non-K versions that don’t offer the same overclocking potential.

Motherboard: To take full advantage of Intel’s K-series CPUs, you’ll need a fully compatible motherboard. This will likely be more expensive. Avoid pairing with an H67 chipset-based motherboard.

A 64bit operating system is essential if you intend to use 4GB or more of RAM.

Storage: Expect 1TB, but you may find 2TB at this price. A complementary solid-state disk (SSD) will provide a noticeable boost to bootup times and system responsiveness, but these are pricey.

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.

It’s not unusual to find a drive that reads but doesn’t write to Blu-ray. Note that DVD-burning speeds will be slower on these combo drives.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to help budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more here if you’ll be working with digital media.

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 cheap displays that provide only VGA inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 is near-unbeatable. It offers support for multiple display and DirectX 11.0. You may be able to get an even faster Radeon HD 6950.

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 technology. The GTX 460 offers good value, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice for dual-graphics setups, however.

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.

However, the current crop of motherboards which support the new processors have only limited support for multiple graphics cards, so buy the fastest single card you can afford.

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 decoding is so good these days that you’re unlikely to need a separate sound card – except for specialist applications such as studio music creation.

Next page: Specification and our expert verdict

Chillblast Fusion Zeus: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • 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 P8P67 LE motherboard
  • 600W Xigmatech PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 87/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 173/88fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Chillblast speakers and subwoofer
  • 10x 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: 163
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • 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 P8P67 LE motherboard
  • 600W Xigmatech PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 87/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 173/88fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Chillblast speakers and subwoofer
  • 10x 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: 163

OUR VERDICT

An excellent all-round PC, we would have been more taken with the Fusion Zeus had Chillblast specified the ‘Pro’ or standard version of the Asus P8P67 motherboard.

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