Chillblast Fusion Templar review
Good performance, an excellent monitor and a keen price make this an award-winning choice for budget buyers
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.
|Price ex VAT||£582|
|Price inc VAT||£699|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||1,000GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i5|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.30GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||4.50GHz|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2|
|Motherboard||Asus P8Z77-V LX|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel Z77|
|Conventional PCI slots free||3|
|PCI-E x16 slots free||1|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||2|
|PCI-E x1 slots free||3|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||3|
|Internal SATA connectors||6|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||2|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Graphics card||AMD Radeon HD 7770|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 7770|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk||Seagate Barracuda|
|Hard disk usable capacity||931GB|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Monitor make and model||Iiyama Prolite X2377HDS|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Case format||Full tower|
|Dimensions||210 x 497 x 430mm (WDH)|
|Power supply rating||500W|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||2|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||yes|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Front panel USB ports||2|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 8|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||49fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||1.15|