The Chillblast Fusion Centaur - another quad-core PC - has a great many good points but, ultimately, we felt that the Mesh Elite Quad Express-PCA was marginally the better prospect for the future.
The Chillblast Fusion Centaur's performance in our WorldBench 6 speed suite was pretty much what we'd expect from a machine packing a Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor and 2GB of DDR RAM - a steady 106 points. But you could actually squeeze a little more grunt out of this system.
As it does with most of its PCs, Chillblast has built the Fusion Centaur so that the chip can be overclocked without damaging the PC. At PC Advisor, we prefer to test machines at the settings laid down by the component manufacturers, but if you want to push the performance of the Chillblast Fusion Centaur, its score could safely be boosted by a few WorldBench points.
And the Chillblast Fusion Centaur has another sparkling component up its sleeve - the 640MB version of the GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card. Nippier than its 320MB sibling, this version of the 8800 GTS flew through our gaming tests, marking out the Chillblast Fusion Centaur as a fast gaming PC. We also liked the 19in HannsG flat-panel, although a few users will prefer the extra 3in of viewing area offered by the Mesh Elite Quad Express-PCA's rather fine Mirai.
There are a few features that irked us - it's possible that these could have made the difference between first and second place. The Chillblast Fusion Centaur has a high-quality sound card, but its speakers aren't in the same class as the 5.1 sets offered with the Mesh Elite Quad Express-PCA and Arbico CD-8870GS PCs. Neither is the software bundle as impressive as those bundled with those other PCs, while the warranty isn't up to the standard laid down by the Mesh Elite Quad Express-PCA.
We reckon the Mesh Elite Quad Express-PCA will make slightly better use of its Quad Q6600 chip in the future, but we'd quite understand if you opted for the Chillblast Fusion Centaur instead - particularly if you like the potential for overclocking.
Chart ranking: power PCs September 07 issue