Chillblast Fusion Templar review
Good performance, an excellent monitor and a keen price make this an award-winning choice for budget buyers
Review Date: 22 Feb 2013
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £582 (£699 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The A-List’s Budget PC category has been ruled by Palicomp’s Phoenix i5 Destiny for a long time, but that system’s Sandy Bridge processor and last-generation graphics are looking dated. It’s high time for a change, and the Chillblast Fusion Templar is out to steal its well-worn crown.
The Templar gets off to a familiar start with the Intel Core i5-3570K processor. The “K” suffix denotes it’s an unlocked CPU, and Chillblast has taken full advantage by boosting the stock speed of 3.3GHz to a healthier 4.5GHz. It isn’t the most ambitious tweak we’ve seen on this particular processor, but it’s enough to deliver an application benchmark result of 1.15 – better than the 1.1 scored by the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Destiny.
Gaming power comes from a mid-range AMD Radeon HD 7770, which blitzed the Palicomp in our gaming benchmarks. It scored 49fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 High-quality Crysis test, 19 frames ahead of its rival. The Templar can just about handle top-tier titles, too, scoring 30fps score in our Very High-quality benchmark, although higher resolutions and multi-monitor setups will prove too much for this particular card.
Neither component struggled in our thermal tests, though. The overclocked processor hit a top temperature of 74°C thanks to the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 heatsink, and the graphics card – provided by XFX – was even cooler, topping out at only 62°C. Noise wasn’t a problem, either; the Templar was virtually silent when idling, and its modest whine during tough benchmarks isn’t anything to worry about.
The rest of the specification impresses. Eight gigabytes of RAM is twice the amount included in the Palicomp, and the Seagate Barracuda hard disk offers 1TB of space and good speeds. Its sequential read and write benchmarks of 189MB/sec and 176MB/sec compare well with the A-Listed Hitachi DeskStar 7K1000.D, which scored 186MB/sec and 187MB/s in the same tests. The only disappointment is the DVD writer – the Palicomp includes a Blu-ray drive.
The chassis, a Corsair 200R, won’t win any design prizes with its plain, matte black exterior, but it ticks all the right boxes on the inside. A raised motherboard tray allows Chillblast to hide the Xigmatek power supply’s ugly, unbraided cables behind it, and the system’s various cables have also been lashed together. The result is an extremely tidy machine that’s easy to work inside.
There’s plenty of upgrade potential, too, with two free memory sockets that can accept an additional 24GB of DDR3 RAM, four SATA sockets free at the bottom of the motherboard, three side-facing hard disk bays and a pair of empty 5.25in bays. One PCI-Express x16 slot is free (restricted to x4 speed), and it’s joined by one PCI-Express x1 and three PCIs. If we’ve one complaint, it concerns general build quality. The plastic front bends alarmingly when pushed, and the metal side panels are flimsy.
Chillblast has included a full complement of peripherals with the Templar, and the monitor is the star of the show. It’s a Full HD Iiyama ProLite X2377HDS – one of the best we’ve seen bundled with a PC at this price. Its IPS panel delivered an average Delta E of 2.5, which is better than our A-Listed budget monitor – the Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM, which scored 2.7 – and the accurate colours are matched with decent maximum brightness of 266cd/m2. Our only quibble is over the black level, which we’d prefer to be deeper. The Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, on the other hand, are merely average.
That aside, there’s very little wrong with this machine. It’s quicker in both applications and games than its budget rivals, the chassis is tidy and quiet and it comes with one of the best monitors in a desktop at the price. The Palicomp has had a long reign at the top of the A-List, but that’s finally come to an end. The new king is the Chillblast Fusion Templar.
Author: Mike Jennings
Well Specified Desktop - but budget?
I would not consider £700 to be a budget desktop.
With budget laptops reviewed at £450 and £500 I would expect a desktop to be no more than that, maybe £500 max including monitor.
£700 gets you more than adequate processor, graphics card and ram. I would consider this to be a reasonably high spec Desktop for gaming rather than budget desktop
By Manuel on 22 Feb 2013
Depends on your idea of budget. I just bought a replacement PC8585 tower made by Medion for my father who's 10 year old Athlon XP 2400+ machine just packed up. It cost a whopping £319 from Amazon but does everything he needs of it. It is powered by an i3 2130 which is an older 2nd generation unit along with 6Gb RAM and a reasonably decent 1TB Seagate drive. One slight niggle was the HDD firmware but I flashed a new version and it resolved the excessive paging problem. Only issue left is teaching him how to use Windows 8
Even with a reasonably specified monitor to go with that you would still be well under £500.
By mr_chips on 22 Feb 2013
*****By Manuel on 22 Feb 2013****
Do remember that your £700 is buying a very good screen to-Most merchants if you ask how much is that with out xyd accomodate you where practical
By invalidscreenname on 22 Feb 2013
You are right in that this PC is a good buy. However Manuel has a point in that it is the price of a mid range PC. A few years ago this would have been budget, but now PC prices including the monitor start at under £350 that seems outdated.
By tirons1 on 23 Feb 2013
Budget is relative!
The price is certainly budget compared with an iPad!
By TonyO on 28 Feb 2013
Model for sale does not match review model!
Your review states it comes with the AMD Radeon HD 7770 but on the manufacturer's site it comes only with the 6670. You have to pay another £70 for the 7770, ouch! Can you take this up with them? Otherwise it makes your A-List useless IMHO.
By celtxian on 13 Oct 2013
Apologies - looked at wrong site!
Ignore my last comment - mixed up two pcs in your review!
By celtxian on 13 Oct 2013
Shame it's not the current A-List one
Website is behind the paper magazine as the actual current A-List model is the Chillblast Fusion Quasar as reviewed and A-Listed in the May (235) issue of the magazine.
C'mon guys - catch up on here
By stormsinger on 1 Apr 2014
- Bloom.fm: 20 buyers show interest in London music startup
- Forget monitors: your next display may be mist or bubbles
- Heartbleed: the race to reissue security certificates
- Computing in schools "not only about code"
- School coding: why one teacher training programme failed
- Q&A: the importance of coding, from a non-coder
- Mark Shuttleworth interview: Taking Ubuntu beyond desktops
- Surveillance panic could lead to restrictive data laws
- Multipath routers: the easy way to faster broadband?
- DIY broadband: how one remote not-spot went wireless
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?