Chillblast Fustion Nano full review
High-end overclocked gaming PCs generally require substantial cooling systems and employ large, powerful graphics cards to achieve their blistering performance. But, not everyone has the desire to own, or the room for, a large bulky PC.
Enter Chillblast’s tiny Fusion Nano: an ultra-compact PC with all the gaming performance you’d expect from a full-sized system.
Chillblast Fusion Nano review: Design and key specs
Built into a heavily modified Raijintek Metis Mini ITX case, the Fusion Nano is one of the best-looking PCs we’ve seen. Available in a range of colours including red, green, black, silver and gold; our review sample was finished in a stunning blue anodised aluminium unibody which also functions as a heatsink, radiating heat away from the internal components.
It has a minimalist design, featuring just a power button on the front and a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the top, complemented by audio in/out jacks.
The right-hand side of the case features a transparent viewing panel, through which you can see, that the internals seem far from cramped, despite the powerful components fitted inside.
This is partly due to the fact that Chillblast has removed the internal 3.5in bay to make space for a Corsair H55 liquid CPU cooler and an nVidia GeForce GTX 970 mini graphics card. The arrangement of the internal components causes the fan on the graphics card, mounted near the top of the case, to blow vertically downward. This wouldn’t allow for good air-flow into the fan in this particular chassis, so Chillblast has cut a circular hole in the top of the case to allow air to be drawn in from outside. Chillblast tells us that this modification enables the graphics card’s fan to run slower and more quietly while maintaining the same required temperature.
This hole has been fitted with a metal guard which will prevent larger items falling through the hole into the fan, although you’ll still need to be careful to avoid placing smaller loose items on top of the case. We feel a dust filter would make a good addition here to prevent such mishaps.
When you first boot it up, the Fusion Nano’s fans spin up to a rather noisily high speed, but after a few moments everything settles down to a pleasantly low sound level.
Considering so much has been crammed inside such a small case, we were impressed by Chillblast’s exceptionally tidy internal wiring, made simpler by the use of a 750W Corsair CX750M modular power supply which allows unnecessary cables to be left out of the case altogether. The least tidy component is the external Wi-Fi 802.11ac antenna, but this can easily be tucked away out of sight or fixed magnetically to the rear of the case, which is made of steel rather than aluminium.
At the heart of the system is an Intel Core i5-4690K Quad Core processor, overclocked to 4.3GHz, teamed up with 16GB of PC3-12800 DDR3 RAM. These are fitted in an Asus Z97I-Plus mini-ITX motherboard which provides an additional four external USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, Audio with DTS support and a PS/2 port for lag-free input.
Fast storage is provided in the form of a 250GB Samsung 850 PRO solid state drive backed by a 1TB Seagate SSHD hybrid drive.
The one disadvantage of such a small PC is the near total lack of room for internal upgrades. You won’t be adding any 3.5” disks or PCI-Express cards, for example – and this is why Chillblast has gone for a 2.5” SSHD in this system.
Chillblast Fusion Nano review: Performance
Despite its small size, the Chillblast Fusion Nano turns in some excellent performance results, thanks in part to its overclocked processor. We ran PC Mark 7 and achieved an overall score of 6951 points, with an Entertainment score of 6733. Under PC Mark 8, we recorded a Home score of 5500 points which places it well within the performance range of a full-sized PC such as the Chillblast Fusion Dragon reviewed previously.
The case size does limit the maximum size of the graphics card however, but nVidia’s GeForce GTX 970 comes in a “mini” format which makes it suitable for small PCs like the Fusion Nano, giving it “full size” performance in a much smaller format. The Fusion Nano flew through our gaming benchmark tests with frame rates comfortably within the 100 – 200fps range on high settings at 1920 by 1080 pixels. Switching to the very highest, or “Ultra” quality modes also achieved playable results, although Alien vs Predator occasionally dipped below 60fps – to around 55fps during particularly taxing scenes – and the more demanding Sniper Elite V2 required dropping to Medium quality to keep the minimum frame rate above 60fps.
Overall, the Fusion Nano is an extremely fast gaming PC given its compact and convenient size. It’s also really quick at just about everything else you may care to throw at it – and highly responsive, thanks to its combination of SSD and Hybrid SSHD storage.
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Chillblast Fustion Nano: Specs
- 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-4690K Overclocked to 4.3GHz
- Asus Z97I-Plus Wi-Fi motherboard
- Corsair H55 Liquid CPU Cooler
- Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB Mini Graphics Card
- Raijintek Metis windowed Mini ITX case (choice of colours)
- Windows 8.1 64-bit (or Windows 7 Home Premium)
- 16GB PC3-12800 DDR3 RAM
- 250GB Samsung SSD plus 1TB 2.5in Seagate SSHD hybrid drive
- 750W Corsair CX750M power supply
- 6x USB 3.0
- 4x USB 2.0
- 1x PS/2 port
- Onboard HD audio
- Gigabit ethernet plus WiFi 802.11ac
- Dimensions 190 x 277 x 254 mm
- 5-year labour with 2-year collect-and-return warranty