Chillblast Fusion Dagger review
Providing power without taking up much space, the Fusion Dagger proves that high-end gaming systems come in all shapes and sizes
Review Date: 10 May 2012
Price when reviewed: £699
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
Chillblast's Fusion Dagger is a bit larger than most mini PCs, being 180x220x290mm in size, but it's still significantly smaller than a standard desktop. There's certainly nothing on the outside to betray the fact that this petite PC is a gaming powerhouse.
Although it's only powered by a 300W power supply, the system has a Core i5-2500K processor running at its native 3.3GHz, an AMD Radeon HD 6870 with 1GB of graphics memory and support for AMD's Eyefinity multi-monitor configurations, two mini DisplayPorts, and one HDMI and two DVI graphics outputs. The PC also has 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard disk and a Blu-ray drive. Sadly, there isn’t much room for further expansion on the tiny Asus P8H61-I motherboard. The only expansion slot is the PCI-E x16 slot, which houses the graphics card. Although the board's two memory slots can take up to 16GB of RAM between them, both are already occupied by 4GB modules, which means you’ll need to dispose of them in order to upgrade. There are two spare SATA ports, with the motherboard having four SATA2 ports in total.
It also has a spare 3.5in slot for a second hard drive, assuming you ever run out of space on the massive 2TB drive with which the system comes. Sadly, it doesn’t have any 5.25in bays, the fitted Blu-ray drive being a slim laptop version. The case itself feels extremely sturdy and comes apart in sections, making it fairly easy to access the motherboard, although you have to remove the drive cradles first. We were also pleased to find that the system doesn't become particularly warm, despite its limited cooling. The heavily ventilated case contributes to this, but it also makes it easier for dust and fluff to enter the case.
On the case's front panel are two USB ports and the usual 3.5mm microphone and headphone ports. At the rear is a PS/2 port for an older keyboard or mouse, four USB2 ports and two USB3 ports, three 3.5mm stereo outputs and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The PC doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi. Instead, it comes with an 802.11n wireless dongle which works under Windows 7 without any fuss or driver installation.
This is an outstanding specification for a mini PC, so it should come as no surprise that it did well in our tests. The system zipped through our standard benchmarks with an overall score of 102. That's typical of a Core i5-2500k running at its native speed and it indicates that this system - unlike a low-power mini PC - can cope with whatever task you care to throw at it. The Fusion Dagger’s graphics performance in our gaming tests was also excellent. We achieved a frame rate of 50fps in Dirt 3 at maximum quality settings, while Crysis 2 ran at 22.8fps at full quality. That isn’t amazing, but you won't have to reduce your graphics settings much to get sufficiently fast frame rates from any game.
The main thing that sets this mini PC apart from its rivals (apart from its power) is its price. At £699, it’s twice the price of a typical Atom-based mini PC, but it's many times more powerful. This is a full PC in a compact package, which makes it an ideal system for those who are short on space. Connect it to a HD TV and you've got a great setup for gaming and movies that's small enough not to take up much space in a studio flat. If space is at a premium and you don't want to sacrifice power, then this PC is perfect.
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