Chillblast Fusion Panther full review
Chillblast regularly picks up the number one award in our PC group tests. This time it strives to go further still, specifying a number of PCA firsts, and putting together a showcase for everything that’s cool and cutting-edge in current PC technology. See all: gaming PC reviews.
It starts, inevitably, with a CPU from Intel’s new Haswell range. This is no mid-range Core i5, however, but a top of the line i7-4770K. See also: best gaming PCs group test.
Set by Intel to run at 3.5 GHz, the chip has been pushed here by Chillblast to a searing 4.8 GHz. Reports of 5.0 GHz overclocks have been sighted on the wilder PC overclocking websites, but Chillblast has gone for a (admittedly only slightly) more restrained figure, aiming to get the maximum performance without affecting stability. Take a look at Codemasters Grid 2 review: a visually stunning racing game.
This chip nestles upon strong foundations, with a solid 16 GB of Crucial RAM and a fast 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD drive combined to good effect. A capacious 2 TB Seagate Baracuda drive offers additional storage.
The end result of this powerfully built sub-system is a PCMark 7 score of 6891 points. This is a good total, perhaps even very good, but it does fall short of the 6930 points notched by the Dino PC Angry Lizard (August 13 Gaming PCs GT), despite that system taking an Intel Core i7-3770K from tlast year’s Ivy Bridge series.
It’s a further indication that Haswell offers little that’s radically new over its predecessor in terms of raw processing performance.
But those expecting the Chillblast to hit new highs in our benchmarks will be more pleased with its gaming prowess. Once more it opens up the drawer marked ‘hot off the press’, and out slides the nVidia GeForce GTX 780, one of the most devastating graphics adaptors unleashed yet.
This does indeed propel the Chillblast to new highs. Figures of 156.7 and 85.2 fps (1280 x 720 and 1920 x 1080) in Aliens vs Predator, for instance, see it comfortably eclipsing the 114 and 61 fps notched up by the Dino PC.
Chillblast’s own Fusion Carbine finishes some way behind, too, on 138 and 74 fps respectively.
In Sniper Elite V2, the Panther’s scores of 144.4 and 39.2 fps are, once more, some way ahead of the 120/30 fps and 124/32 fps recorded by the Dino PC and Fusion Carbine systems.
Figures of 321.98 and 168.28 fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat, are also superb.
The Fractal Design Define R4 is one of the more comprehensive cases available to PC system builders. With its smooth faceless monolithic door, and versatile innards that allow for the installation of a solid bank of eight 3.5/2.5in drives, it’s a fairly impressive sight to behold.
There’s maybe not quite as much elbow room under the lid as you might expect, although this is partly down to the extensive graphics card and the wide but effective Corsair H100i cooler.
he latter, in particular, makes it a little tricky to get at the memory chips. Nonetheless, you can access these with clever positioning, and the overall impression of the case is very neat.
The 750-watt Corsair CX750 PSU offers plenty of future potential too. Eight USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports are included, with two of each front-mounted alongside audio sockets.
The system consumed around 66 watt when idling, which isn’t at all bad for a system with this firepower on board. Even during game benchmarking, it only sucked around 291 watt. Ivy Bridge PCs with a Core i5 CPU and much less powerful graphics cards still draw to 285 watt. So the new Haswell technology does seem to be living up to its reputation for lower energy consumption.
This isn’t the quietest PC though, despite plenty of sound-muffling foam in the case. It added around 13-15 dB to the room when turned on, then a further 6 dB during gaming. Not extortionately loud, then, but certainly not quiet in modern day terms.
After the essential components that make the PC run and win benchmark tests, we’ve reached the part where manufacturers try to claw back costs. This machine, though, continues to shoot for the stars.
The LG BH16NS40 is a Blu-ray writer so new, even LG claimed not to have samples available yet. It’s a high-end drive that LG claims to hit 16x while writing BD-R discs, and read at a maximum of 12x. But good luck finding BD-R discs rated at 8x, let alone 16x, as the fastest production Blu-ray blanks are still only 6x rated.
DVD writing is also included, at the very decent speeds of 16x in both –R and +R formats. Whether playing BD-ROMs, or writing to BD-R or DVD±R media, this is a highly-specified model.
Perhaps more impressive still is the 27in Asus MX279H flat-panel monitor. Although this doesn’t offer the classy 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution of the best screens, it’s otherwise an assured model. It uses a IPS panel to provide excellent contrast and a relatively accurate (if occasionally subdued) colour palette. The design looks very nice too.
The display’s onboard sound is bolstered considerably by the addition of the Creative A520 speakers, while the keyboard and mouse are dedicated gaming peripherals.
The Razer Deathstalker Expert Gaming keyboard comes with backlit green programmable keys, while the Razer Abyssus mouse is beautifully responsive.
Chillblast’s warranty also deserves mention. Covering two years of collect-and-return, it comes with lifetime local-rate telephone support, plus an upgrade or repair service with a single subsidised charge for collection, delivery and unlimited labour.
Chillblast Fusion Panther: Specs
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7-4770K (overclocked to 4.8 GHz)
- Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP motherboard
- 16 GB DDR3 RAM
- Windows 8 (64-bit)
- 2 TB Seagate Baracuda HDD (7200 rpm)
- 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD
- Fractal Design Define R4 case
- 750W Corsair CX750 PSU
- Corsair H100i CPU cooler
- nVidia GeForce GTX 780
- 8x USB 3.0
- 4x USB 2.0
- DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort
- 27in Asus MX279H (1920 x 1080) monitor
- Creative A520 speakers
- 16x LG HL-DT-ST BH16NS40 Blu-ray/DVD±RW optical drive
- Razer Deathstalker keyboard
- Razer Abyssus mouse
- 2-year collect-and-return warranty