Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Chillblast Fusion Blizzard review: A fast PC that doesn't blow the budget

There’s no hiding from the fact that Brexit and Bitcoin mining have provided a perfect storm for PC prices.

Two years ago, it was easy to build a brilliantly fast system for this price. Now, manufacturers must use all their nous to build a system that’s fast but doesn’t blow the budget. Fortunately, Chillblast has just such nous.

Its key starting point was to focus on quality rather than cut-price components. There’s also more style than you might expect from a British PC manufacturer, with an understated white-and-black theme that starts with the Corsair Carbide 275R chassis and ends with the Asus Prime Z370-A motherboard.

In between, it’s picked reputable components that don’t cost the earth. And that leaves room in the budget for a top-end graphics card, overclocked Core i5 processor and a speedy storage subsystem.

I’ll tackle the latter first. Chillblast takes a familiar approach of coupling an SSD – for quick boot and app-loading times – with a significantly larger hard disk for storage. Here, it tucks a 250GB Samsung 970 Evo M.2 PCIe SSD under a heatsink, with a 2TB 7,200rpm Seagate BarraCuda hard disk in tow.

There’s room for another hard disk and a second M.2 SSD as well, should you need more storage or fancy a RAID SSD setup in the future.

This combo should last for a while, though. Testing using the AS SSD benchmark, it managed 2.6GB/sec read and 1.45GB/sec write sequential transfers – not as fast as the MacBook Pro, but a sign that this system will rarely stutter. The hard disk managed 204MB/sec and 174MB/sec in the same tests, which are as we’d expect for a fast mechanical unit.

Geekbench 4 produced similarly strong results, with 5,334 in the single-core and 21,994 in the multicore test. However, the Chillblast Fusion wasn’t such a stellar performer in our own benchmarks. Chillblast overclocks the system’s six cores to 4.1GHz from the Core i5-8600K’s base speed of 3.6GHz, and that gave it to an overall score of 187.

With a watercooling system in place I felt safe to overclock it further to 4.5GHz using Intel’s Extreme Overclocking Utility, which pushed it to 203. It stayed stable at this point, but did push the power consumption up from 48W in idle up to 52W. Under load, those figures are 260W and 270W respectively.

The overclock had little effect on gaming speeds, but this is already an excellent gaming system. Sure, it’s a GeForce 1070 GTX Ti rather than a 1080, so it couldn’t quite hit playable frame rates at 4K in Metro: Last Light. I had to drop to Medium quality to hit a playable 46.7fps rate.

At 1440p, though, it managed 44.9fps even at maximum quality settings, and in Rise of the Tomb Raider it managed 42.9fps at 4K at the top Very High preset. A score of 569fps in the 1080p Manhattan 3 test completes the set.

Should you want to play VR, this machine is ready and waiting. It scored top marks in the SteamVR Performance Test, dropping zero frames during testing. Purely for the sake of testing, you understand, I also put it through its paces in Beat Saber. It was as brilliant as you would expect.

source: expertreview.co.uk
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