The Fusion Thunderbolt from Chillblast lives up to its name, combining a strong multimedia offering with a powerful dual-card gaming setup.

The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt’s Digimate is one of four 24in monitors in this month’s power PC chart, indicating a growing trend towards ever larger (yet affordable) screens. While this one isn’t as polished as the CyberPower’s Samsung flat-panel, it’s capable of delivering exciting gameplay and full HD movies from the Chillblast’s combo Blu-ray Disc drive. If you regularly burn DVDs, you may notice the drive’s slower write speeds. But adding a fast burner is a low-cost upgrade.

The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt's Coolermaster Centurion is a smart, well-built case, with plenty of space for airflow and easy access to the drive bays. Inside, there’s a capacious 750GB hard drive and a pair of 512MB 8800 GTS graphics cards – an old-school setup that delivers great performance, even if it can’t quite keep up with the Chillblast Fusion SuperNova’s 9800 GX2.

The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt's excellent XtremeAudio card delivers surround sound to a set of five Creative Inspire T6100 speakers and subwoofer.

The Thunderbolt’s 4GB allocation of RAM is supplied in two sticks, leaving room for further expansion. Meanwhile, Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8500 processor drives the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt to a very credible WorldBench 6 real-world speed score of 121.

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.

>>NEXT PAGE: Our first look

Our first look

The Fusion Thunderbolt from Chillblast lives up to its name, combining a strong multimedia offering with a powerful dual-card gaming setup.

The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt’s Digimate is one of three 24in monitors in this month’s power PC chart, indicating a growing trend towards ever larger (yet affordably priced) screens. While this model isn’t as polished as the Arbico Elite 9870EX’s Samsung flat-panel, it’s capable of delivering exciting gameplay and full high-definition (HD) movies from the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt’s combo Blu-ray Disc drive.

If you regularly burn DVDs, you may notice the drive’s slower write speeds. Keep in mind, though, that adding a fast burner is a low-cost upgrade.
The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt's Coolermaster Centurion is a smart, well-built case, with plenty of internal space to allow good airflow and easy access to the drive bays. Inside, there’s a capacious 750GB hard drive and a pair of 512MB 8800 GTS graphics cards – an old-school setup that delivers excellent performance, even if it can’t quite keep up with the CyberPower Sli KO GT’s 9800 GX2.

The excellent XtremeAudio card delivers surround sound to a set of five Creative Inspire T6100 speakers and subwoofer – a good complement to the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt’s multimedia capabilities.

The Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt’s 4GB allocation of RAM is supplied in two sticks, leaving room for further expansion. While there’s only one free expansion card slot on the motherboard, there’s always USB.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (August issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt
  2. Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro
  3. Arbico Elite 9870EX
  4. CyberPower Sli KO GT
  5. Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice and our expert verdict

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (August 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 – only the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 falls short of that here, and that’s an exceptional case.

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 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 more – 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 at least a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS cards or one GeForce 9800 GX2. ATI’s less costly Radeon HD 3870 X2 can deliver excellent performance – especially when doubled up into a quad-processor setup. The Radeon HD 3870 and GeForce 9800 GX2 also leave slots free for upgrades such as sound cards or TV tuners.

The GeForce 9800 GTX offers better performance than the GeForce 8800 GTS, but will cost you more than a little extra.

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 Thunderbolt: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 6 x USB
  • 24in Digimate L-2442WD (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1,920x1,200)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 47fps, Fear 257fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x (DVD-R+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 121
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-E SLI
  • 6 x USB
  • 24in Digimate L-2442WD (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1,920x1,200)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Zotac nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 47fps, Fear 257fps)
  • Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x (DVD-R+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • two-year collect-and-return warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 121

OUR VERDICT

Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8500 processor drives the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt to a very credible WorldBench 6 real-world speed score of 121, rounding off a well-balanced system that can turn its hand to just about anything with style and ease.

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