Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut 2 review

28 Jul 2010

A stunning system that, but the price is a touch high, and the CPU runs too hot for our liking

Price when reviewed: 
1,879£1,599 (£1,879 incmore
5

Chillblast's original Juggernaut was a record-breaking PC that delivered the best benchmark results we'd ever seen, so its successor has a lot to live up to. We're pleased to report that first impressions are good.

The feel of quality begins with the Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced chassis. At 511mm tall and 528mm deep, it's taller and longer than the Antec Nine Hundred Two used by the A-Listed Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire, and boasts excellent build quality that's on a par with the Antec. As usual, the front is decorated with meshed panels, but the parallel strips of chrome and curved edges make it stand out from the crowd.

The top of the chassis also serves up a unique feature. As well as the pair of USB 2 ports, audio jacks and eSATA, there's a SATA/300 dock in a recessed area. It's the first time we've seen anything like this on a case, and enthusiasts who regularly swap or test hard disks, or those migrating files from one PC to another, will find it useful.

Pop off the side panel and the Cooler Master continues to impress. The matte-black interior is extremely tidy, with the motherboard mounted on an easily-removable tray, and the meticulous build is backed up with a decent array of spare ports and sockets. The Asus P6X58D-E motherboard serves up two free PCI Express x16 slots (although the second only runs at x8 speed if the first is occupied), plus single PCI Express x1 and PCI slots. There's a trio of spare DIMM sockets, too, and they're not blocked off by the Akasa Nero heatsink.

Elsewhere, four hard disk bays and three 5.25in bays lie vacant. There are no front-facing 3.5in bays, however, so if you want to fit a card reader or fan controller, you'll have to buy a converter.

Plenty of stock has been placed on keeping the machine quiet, with the PSU (a 750W Thermaltake silent model), hard disks, and even the processor cooling fan all sitting on rubber mounts. Despite these efforts, however, the Chillblast does emit a constant, quiet whirr.

Taking pride of place beneath the Akasa cooler is an Intel Core i7-930 processor. It's the first time we've seen this 2.8GHz, 45nm part since its February release, and Chillblast has overclocked the core to run at 4GHz. It's an ambitious tweak that pays off in our benchmarks: an overall score of 2.58 is extremely impressive, and although not quite the fastest we've seen, will be more than enough for games, video editing or whatever other demanding task you care to throw its way.

Performance is undoubtedly helped by the use of a 60GB Corsair Nova SSD as the system drive, while traditional mechanical storage is provided in the form of a 1.5TB hard disk. There's also 6GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM and a Blu-ray drive.

Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut 2

Graphical duties are handled by an ATI Radeon HD 5870, in this case a Sapphire Vapor-X model that sports a quiet cooler and 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. In our Crysis tests, the GPU proved its worth, returning a score of 74fps in our High quality test run at 1,600 x 1,200, and gaining three-figure scores in our less-demanding Medium and Low quality tests.

At more demanding settings the Chillblast scored 46fps and 39fps in the Very High quality test run at 1,600 x 1,200 and 1,920 x 1,200 respectively, and produced a near-playable framerate of 25fps in the same test run at the unlikely resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. It's more than enough power to handle the world's most demanding titles.

Unfortunately, the Chillblast's superb application performance was marred by high temperatures. We stress-tested the machine and found the 45nm processor peaked at a toasty 95 degrees Celcius a little close to the fabled 100 degrees barrier for comfort. The graphics card peaked at a more comfortable 63 degrees.

We'd prefer to take a little bit of a performance hit than run at these sorts of temperatures for long periods, but we're more confident about the peripheral complement. Taking pride of place is a Samsung B2430H monitor. Its 24in diagonal and 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution make it suitable for watching HD movies and quality is good, with only marginal backlight bleed across the top and bottom edges giving cause for concern. Samsung's glossy finish lends it an air of sophistication, and we were pleased to see HDMI, DVI-I and D-SUB inputs on the rear.

The Razer Arctosa keyboard and Abyssus mouse add to the quality feel, and Creative's A500 speakers top the specification off nicely, offering plenty of volume and booming bass.

This package doesn't come cheap, though, and at £1,599 exc VAT, it's far more expensive than its main rival, the £1,199 exc VAT Wired2Fire. The Chillblast only improves on it in small increments: it's barely faster in our application benchmarks, for instance, and its peripherals and chassis aren't much better, either. The Wired2Fire can be kitted out with two HD 5870 cards for a total cost of £1,469 exc VAT, still cheaper than the Chillblast.

Couple the high price with the processor's high running temperatures, then, and it's clear the Juggernaut 2 isn't perfect. Its lightning-quick specification, solid chassis and quality peripherals make it a tempting money-no-object choice, but for us it doesn't offer quite enough value.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,599
Price inc VAT £1,879
Overall rating 5
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,564
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency 2.80GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.00GHz
Processor socket LGA 1366
HSF (heatsink-fan) Akasa Nero

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P6X58D-E
Motherboard chipset Intel X58
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 3
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 0
Internal SAS connectors 1
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 3
Memory sockets total 6

Graphics card

Graphics card ATI Radeon HD 5870
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 5870
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Capacity 1.50TB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB
Hard disk 2 make and model Corsair Nova SSD
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 64GB
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model Samsung B2430H
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Pixel response time 5ms
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Screen brightness 300cd/m2
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 1
VGA inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Creative Inspire A500
Speaker type 5.1
Sound card Realtek HD Audio
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 214 x 528 x 511mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Thermaltake 750WSilent
Power supply rating 750W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel eSATA ports 1
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Razer Arctosa keyboard, Razer Abyssus mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 147W
Peak power consumption 412W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 2.58
Office application benchmark score 1.90
2D graphics application benchmark score 2.94
Encoding application benchmark score 2.30
Multitasking application benchmark score 3.18
3D performance (crysis) low settings 203fps
3D performance setting Low