The Chillblast Fusion Gladiator’s cutting-edge components make it seriously powerful
Processor: Quad-core 4.4GHz Intel i5-6600K (overclocked), RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 1x USB3, 2x USB2, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, 2x USB2, 1x USB Type-C, Total storage: 1TB SSHD, Graphics card: 2GB AMD Radeon R7 370, Display: Acer K242HL, Operating system: Windows 10 Home
If you’re keen to have the latest PC components in your system, the Chillblast Fusion Gladiator should have your interest. Inside the case is a quad-core Intel Core i5-6600K processor based on the latest Skylake architecture. This is a follow-up to last year’s Broadwell processors but is more of a refinement than a reinvention.
The processor has an unlocked multiplier, and Chillblast has overclocked it from its typical 3.5GHz speed to 4.4GHz, with an Akasa Nero 3 CPU cooler helping to control the resulting higher temperatures. The third-party cooler also has the added benefit of running incredibly quietly. Even under load it was barely louder than a whisper. It’s quite large but doesn’t obstruct the memory slots.
In our application benchmarks, the overclocked Skylake processor managed an overall score of 136, which is an excellent score. The processor will handle any task you might throw at it with aplomb. Its multitasking score of 140 was particularly pleasing.
The Chillblast Fusion Gladiator is housed in a Zalman Z3 ATX midi-tower case. It’s a little taller than your average midi tower and has ridges down the sides and across the top, where you’ll find two USB ports and a USB3 port. There’s also a fan controller for toggling between low and high speed, but even with this set to high we couldn’t hear the fans.
The PC is fitted with a 2GB AMD Radeon R7 370 graphics card. This lags behind the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 for performance but is still no slouch and certainly capable of running most games at medium to high graphics settings. Dirt Showdown didn’t prove much of a challenge, with the card delivering 69.7fps at 1,920×1,080 with 4x anti-aliasing and Ultra graphics settings. Metro: Last Light was trickier, and we saw only 22.4fps at 1,920×1,080 with SSAA enabled and Very High graphics quality, which isn’t smooth enough to be considered playable. Turn off anti-aliasing and the frame rate jumps to a more respectable 40fps, but this is still far behind the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960-based PCs.
The Skylake processor sits in an Asus Z170-K motherboard with its new LGA1151 socket. Its four memory slots support 64GB of RAM. Two are occupied by two 4GB DDR4 2,133MHz memory modules. For storage it has a 1TB SSHD, which will leave you plenty of room for your applications, games and media. This hybrid drive’s performance won’t rival that of a dedicated SSD, but the built-in cache makes it significantly more responsive than a standard mechanical hard disk.
The PC has no optical drive, and with only one storage drive fitted, the motherboard has five remaining SATA3 ports for expansion. There’s also a SATA Express port, but using this puts two of the SATA3 ports out of use. The M.2 port at mid-board lets you fit a super-compact M.2 SSD. These are generally more expensive than traditional SSDs but they make for a tidier build as they don’t need to be connected to a SATA3 port on the motherboard or require a separate power cable from the PSU.
The motherboard also provides two PCI-E x16 slots, one of which is in use, and two PCI-E x1 slots, although one is obstructed by the dual-width graphics card. There are two PCI slots for further expansion. The case has four 3½in drive bays, one of which is taken by the SSHD. There’s a dedicated 2½in drive bay on top of the drive bay array for an SSD, two 5¼in external drive bays at the top and quiet 120mm fans at the front and rear. The system’s 600W PSU will be able to power most upgrades you might consider.
At the front you get a USB3 and USB port, and there are two USB and two USB3.1 ports on the back. Interestingly, there’s also a newer USB Type-C port. We expect to see many more USB Type-C devices in the future, so it’s great to see it included here. We would have liked more USB3 ports, however. There are also two PS/2 ports for a keyboard and mouse and the usual Gigabit Ethernet. The graphics card has two DVI outputs as well as HDMI and DisplayPort for multiple displays.
For an extra £100 Chillblast will supply the Fusion Gladiator with an Acer 24in K242HL display and a keyboard and mouse set. The display has deep blacks, as shown by our colour calibrator’s black level reading of 0.26cd/m2. The screen’s contrast ratio of 1,027:1 is also very respectable. Colour accuracy was good, with the monitor able to cover 94% of the sRGB colour gamut.
The Zalman ZM-K200M gaming keyboard proved a little frustrating to use, however. It has a tidy space-saving design and includes media and application shortcut keys, but its smaller backspace key proved irritating. The Zalman ZM-M300 mouse has good ergonomics, though, and we liked its rubberised coating.
The Chillblast Fusion Gladiator is a great system. Its Skylake processor gives it fantastic performance, and although this comes at the expense at some gaming power, it’s a worthwhile trade-off if you need to run seriously intensive applications. The PC also has a great motherboard with plenty of upgrade potential. However, the Chillblast system is just pipped to our Best Buy award by the Yoyotech Warbird RS10, thanks to its more impressive gaming performance. For other options check out our Best desktop PCs and buying guide.
|Quad-core 4.4GHz Intel i5-6600K (overclocked)
|Intel Z170 Express
|Ports and expansion
|Front USB ports
|1x USB3, 2x USB2
|Rear USB ports
|2x USB3, 2x USB2, 1x USB Type-C
|Case size HxWxD
|PCIe x1 (free)
|PCIe x16 (free)
|Serial ATA (free)
|Memory slots (free)
|Drive bays 2 1/2″ (free)
|Drive bays 3 1/2″ (free)
|Drive bays 5 1/4″ (free)
|Memory card reader
|Optical drive type
|2GB AMD Radeon R7 370
|2x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort
|Sound card outputs
|Line in, line out, microphone
|Windows 10 Home
|Operating system restore option
|Two year collect and return with parts, three year labour-only RTB
|Price including delivery (inc VAT)
|Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)