Chillblast Fusion Photo OC IV review

14 Nov 2011

The world’s fastest PC doesn’t come cheap but, if you’re an early adopter, the sheer speed makes it a price worth paying

Price when reviewed: 
1,799(£1,799 inc VAT)
5

Chillblast’s debut X79 machine carries quite a weight of expectation on its shoulders: the firm’s previous Fusion Photo OC systems have all excelled in our Labs tests, and this is the first machine to arrive with one of Intel’s latest Core i7 chips in tow.

The i7-3930K is one step down the range from the Extreme Edition i7-3960X, but it has an enviable specification nonetheless: a 3.2GHz stock speed that will ramp up to 3.8GHz during Turbo Boost, six cores that will address twelve concurrent threads, and 12MB of L3 cache.

Chillblast has worked its usual magic on the chip, overclocking the i7-3930K to an eye-watering 4.7GHz. At the moment, and because no systems touting the i7-3960X have turned up yet, there’s simply nothing that can match this PC for speed. Its benchmark score of 1.39 is the best we’ve ever seen by a huge margin, and its scores of 1.52 and 1.56 in the Media and Multitasking components of our Real World Benchmarks are astonishing.

It’s even more impressive when the Chillblast is lined up against rivals. Our A-Listed Enthusiast machine, the £4,488 inc VAT Scan 3XS Carbon, also ran its Core i7 chip at 4.7GHz but, crucially, it’s an older Core i7-2600K, and it scored “only” 1.16 in the same tests.

Chillblast Fusion Photo OC IV

With much of the budget given over to the processor, the graphics are less impressive, however. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti is a decent card, but its score of 41fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality Crysis test can’t match the sort of frame rates we’ve seen on cheaper systems; the £1,199 Chillblast Fusion Flash included a AMD Radeon HD 6970 and it scored 53fps in the same test. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that Chillblast will replace the consumer card with a professional-friendly Nvidia Quadro 600 at no extra cost.

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit finds a home on a 120GB Corsair Force 3 SSD, and two 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard disks are arranged in a mirrored RAID1 array – ideal for ensuring photos and other work is backed up should one disk fail. There’s a Blu-ray writer, too, and 16GB of RAM, upgradable to an absurd 64GB maximum.

The Corsair Carbide 400R chassis looks like many of its rivals, with black metal and mesh liberally splashed about, but we’re a little disappointed such a powerful, expensive system has been built in a case of middling build quality. The sloped side panels flex uncomfortably when pushed, and there’s more give than we’d like in the meshed areas too.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,499
Price inc VAT £1,799
Overall rating 5
Performance 6
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,120GB
RAM capacity 16.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency 3.20GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.70GHz
Processor socket LGA 2011
HSF (heatsink-fan) Corsair H100

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus Sabertooth X79
Motherboard chipset Intel X79
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
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 8
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 4
Memory sockets total 8

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Medium
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Corsair Force 3 SSD
Capacity 120GB
Hard disk usable capacity 111GB
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk 2 make and model Samsung Spinpoint F3
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 1,000GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity 931
Hard disk 2 spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 cache size 64MB
Hard disk 3 make and model Samsung Spinpoint F3
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity 1,000GB

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray writer

Additional Peripherals

Sound card Realtek HD Audio

Case

Chassis Corsair Carbide 400R
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 201 x 531 x 498mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 8
eSATA ports 2
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 4
Front panel memory card reader yes

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 208W
Peak power consumption 679W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 135fps
3D performance setting Medium
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.39
Responsiveness score 1.08
Media score 1.52
Multitasking score 1.56