Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird £1000
11th Dec 2012 | 09:30
Is the beefy 4.8GHz overclock too much for this custom rig?
The Chillblast machine is one big, fat beastie. The chunky Zalman chassis gives it a real sense of presence on your desk, and the internal goodies match that sense of scale, with a heftily overclocked i5 CPU and similarly overclocked GTX 670 doing the graphical grunt work.
Sadly though, it's in the overclocking department that the Fusion Thunderbird gets a serious black mark.
The Core i5 3570K gets a headline-grabbing 4.8GHz clockspeed - easily the highest clocked chip in the test. If it ran solidly at that speed, we'd be all over this rig like a cheap LED strip.
Unfortunately, while it boots happily with these settings and will allow you to navigate around Windows with impunity, as soon as you start stressing the chip it begins to throw a wobbly. We couldn't run through either Cinebench or X264 encoding tests without it crashing. All it took was a quick trip to BIOS land, knocking the multiplier down a notch, to hit a rock-solid 4.7GHz.
If the CPU couldn't run under load at that clockspeed, the rig shouldn't have arrived with those settings. It's a shame, because we've only had good experiences with Chillblast machines in the past, but if you've just spent £1k on a machine, the last thing you want it to do is fail under load.
That aside, things are decidedly rosy for the Fusion Thunderbird. This rig has one of the most balanced spec sheets out there, weighing up straight-line gaming performance with general PC functionality.
Part of the reason the machine functions at all at 4.8GHz is because Chillblast has used a very strong Asus motherboard, where others have used more budget-oriented options.
It has also opted for an overclocked Palit GTX 670 Jetstream in the graphics slot, which delivers frame rates practically on par with those posted by the two machines with GTX 680 cards inside. It's still short of performance compared with the overclocked HD 7970 of the AdvanceTec rig, but then you also get the added loveliness of things like PhysX and TXAA with the Nvidia cards.
A fit state
One of the big bonuses of this rig is that it's one of only two PCs in the test with a chunky 240GB SSD as a main OS drive. It's also got a 1TB HDD backing it up for all your data needs, but with that decent SSD installed you could get a large chunk of your current gaming library on those solid state memory chips without things getting too crowded.
The Scan 3XS Z77 Performance GTK3, the other PC with a 240GB SSD, has a weaker graphics card, and therefore falls well short in the gaming benchmarks. That Mushkin SSD also helps the Fusion Thunderbird get the fastest boot time of the lot.
If it wasn't for the major black mark around the overclock, this review would be sickeningly glowing. Chillblast has found an excellent balance between the speedy GTX 670, i5 CPU and 240GB SSD. It's not the fastest rig in the test, but it has been intelligently specced-out, despite the Blu-ray drive, and no mistake. You can't argue with that impressive two-year warranty either; good work, Chillblast.