Advertisement
Advertisement

Chillblast Fusion Thor review

Richard Easton
24 Jun 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
479
inc VAT

This Core i3 PC is an excellent all-round performer and fantastic value

Advertisement

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 3.5GHz Core i3-4150, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 1x USB3, 1x USB2, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, 4x USB2, Total storage: 1TB Seagate Barracuda SSHD (8GB SSD cache), Display: 22in AOC e2250Swda, Operating system: Windows 8.1

For the Fusion Thor, Chillblast has decided to build a powerful all-rounder, as capable of playing the latest games as it is of powering through desktop applications. To do this, Chillblast has had to carefully choose its components, to get all the hardware it needs at this price.

Rather than a Core i5 CPU, which a lot of manufacturers use to get the best performance, there's a Core i3-4150. This 3.5GHz dual-core processor is still extremely quick, but it's a lot cheaper leaving budget for a graphics card. This meant that performance was excellent all-round.

In our standard Windows benchmarks, the PC scored 68 overall, which means it's a lot faster than a high-end laptop and suitable for all tasks. That's not a lot off the pace of a Core i5-based system, either. Thanks to the CPU's Hyper-threading, our multitasking test completed with an impressive score of 64.

In addition to the CPU, Chillblast has fitted an AMD Radeon R7 250 dedicated graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. Although a budget graphics card, this model is capable of out-performing Intel's integrated graphics chips. Running our Dirt Showdown tests at a resolution of 1,280x720, 4x AA and High settings we got an impressive 72.8fps. Raising the resolution to 1,920x1,080, the native for the supplied monitor, and keeping High settings we still got a very smooth 50.29fps. Deciding to tax the system further, we set it to Ultra settings and managed a just-playable 29.2fps.

Being able to play Crysis 3 isn’t usually a requirement for a budget PC but we decided to see how the Fusion Thor would hold up with a more graphically intensive game. Granted, we had to drop the graphics settings to 1,920x1,080 resolution, 1x AA and Low detail but we managed to get 29.2fps which is playable even if it isn’t showing off Crysis 3’s graphics at their best. It’s certainly respectable for a budget PC fitted with an entry-level card, however.

Chillblast Fusion Thor interior

The Fusion Thor has a Gigabyte GA-B85M-DS3H motherboard, which accommodates four memory modules, only two of which are occupied with sticks of 4GB DDR3 1,600MHz RAM. This makes upgrading towards the motherboard’s maximum memory of 32GB an easier prospect. There is also one PCI-E x16 slot, which is used for the R7 250 GPU and two PCI-E x1 slots. Unfortunately, with the graphics card installed, only one PCI-E x1 slot is useable as the other is blocked.

There are four SATA3 and two SATA2 ports in total, with two SATA3 ports already used for the DVD-RW drive and a 1TB SSHD hybrid drive, which combines a mechanical hard disk with an 8GB SSD cache. This cache has a substantial impact on Windows boot speeds. Going from powering on to arriving at the desktop took just 23 seconds compared to over 40 seconds with a HDD. With 1TB of storage you will have a good amount of space for your applications and any media such as movies and photographs.

The front of the case has a USB3 and USB2 port connected to headers on the motherboard, as well as 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks. On the rear, the motherboard has two USB3 and four USB2 connections. You will also find Gigabit Ethernet, legacy PS/2 connections and three 3.5mm audio connections for line in, line out and mic in. The R7 250 graphics card supports DVI-D, HDMI and VGA connections and you will also find these connections on the motherboard for the integrated graphics.

Chillblast Fusion Thor rear

The case has one rear 120mm exhaust and one 120mm front fan providing good ventilation quietly, even when the system is under load. However, the GPU fan becomes audible when gaming, although this isn’t particularly loud. You will still be able to comfortably have this PC on top of your desk without the noise or size of the case becoming a hindrance. The case also has three 3½in bays, one of which also doubles as a 2½in bay for SSDs. If you want to install an SSD you can move the existing SSHD to one of the other vacant bays. There’s also mounting points at the bottom of the case for an HDD and SSD.

The PC is also very neatly assembled, with tidy cabling helping airflow. It comes with an FSP 500W PSU, which will provide enough power for any upgrades. If you decide to swap out the graphics card, you have 350mm of depth in the case, so you can fit any card.

Chillblast Fusion Thor front

The system comes with an AOC e2250swda 22in display, which did well in our tests. Our measurements showed it has a good contrast ratio of 854:1 with 89.2 per cent coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, which is good for a monitor at this price. We were happy with how it produced colours in our subjective tests and the colours were vibrant during our Dirt Showdown tests. The screen has a matt finish, which will help cut down on reflections and glare as well. Chillblast supplies a Cherry business keyboard and mouse set and we found the keyboard comfortable to type on as the keys have a good amount of travel to them.

We were overall really impressed by the Chillblast Fusion Thor. It provided a combination of good application performance as well as gaming thanks to its dedicated graphics, while the SSHD made Windows feel really responsive and fast. This makes it an excellent choice for an all-round home PC, although we marginally prefer the Palicomp AMD Kaveri Evolution.

Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 3.5GHz Core i3-4150
Processor socketLGA1150
RAM8GB
Memory typePC3-12800
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardGigabyte GA-B85M-DS3H
Motherboard chipsetIntel B85
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports1x USB3, 1x USB2
Rear USB ports2x USB3, 4x USB2
Other portsPS/2
Networking1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Case typeMidi tower
Case size HxWxD380x185x365mm
PCI (free)0 (0)
PCIe x1 (free)2 (0)
PCIe x16 (free)1 (0)
Serial ATA (free)4x SATA3 (2), 2x SATA2 (2)
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)0
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)3 (2)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)1 (0)
Storage
Total storage1TB Seagate Barracuda SSHD (8GB SSD cache)
Memory card readerNone
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL
GRAPHICS
Graphics card1GB AMD Radeon R7 250
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI
Sound
Sound cardRealtek ALC887
Sound card outputsStereo line out, mic in, line in
SpeakersNone
Display
Display22in AOC e2250Swda
Native resolution1,920x1,080
InputsDVI, VGA
Other hardware
KeyboardCherry KU-0556
MouseCherry M-5400
ExtrasNone
Software
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionWindows disc
Buying information
WarrantyTwo-year collect and return, three-year parts and labour
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£479
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)£399
Supplierwww.chillblast.com
Detailswww.chillblast.com
Part CodeChillblast Fusion Thor