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Chillblast Rapier review

Tom Morgan
16 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
550
inc VAT

An underpowered graphics card and average monitor detract from an otherwise very powerful PC with lots of upgrade potential.

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Specifications

4.1GHz Intel Core i3-530, 4GB RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Intel’s Core i3 is one of the best value-for-money processors currently available, especially as it’s easily overclockable. Chillblast has done just that with the Rapier, boosting the Core i3-520 to just over 4GHz. This increases performance dramatically, producing a terrific 143 in our multimedia benchmarks. Only multi-threaded applications that can use more than two cores could expose the fact that this isn't as fast as a true quad-core chip.

The ATI Radeon 5450 graphics card handles high-definition video well, but struggles with most modern games. In our Call of Duty test it managed 11.7fps, but it produced something akin to a slideshow in Crysis. By sacrificing anti-aliasing and high detail settings, it can still perform reasonably well with older titles.

Chillblast Rapier

The case has a mesh front panel to improve air circulation. Inside, all the cables are well routed, and there’s plenty of room for further expansion. As well as three empty 5¼in drive bays and a single external 3½in bay, there are five internal 3½in bays for adding extra storage. Installing extra hard disks requires removing both side panels, but this helps keep cabling neat. The power supply has plenty of extra SATA and molex connectors, as well as two six-pin PCI Express power adaptors for high-powered graphics cards. The motherboard has doubled up on just about every expansion slot, with two PCI, two PCI-E x1 and even two PCI-E x16 slots. The single-slot graphics card doesn’t get in the way, but if you install two dual-slot cards they will block off a PCI-E x1 slot and PCI slot.

Chillblast Rapier Ports

Connectivity at the rear is impressive, with two USB3 ports joining eight regular USB ports. Audio buffs should be happy with 7.1 line out and optical S/PDIF, plus the HDMI port on the 5450 which supports HD audio. There’s a single FireWire port on the front of the case for connecting older video cameras. Two further USB ports bring the total to ten.

Keeping any processor cool is an important task, but it’s especially true when overclocking. Chillblast has replaced the stock Intel CPU cooler with an upgraded tower-style heatsink that kept temperatures low and was incredibly quiet, even at full load. A 120mm fan at the front of the case pulls cool air inside, while a second 120mm fan exhausts hot air at the rear. The front fan has a bright blue LED, but it’s not overly obtrusive. All cables are routed behind the motherboard to keep the flow of air unbroken throughout the case.

Chillblast includes a decent range of peripherals with the Rapier. The AOC monitor is a 22in model with an unusual stand that sits flush to the desk. There’s a limited amount of tilt adjustment, but viewing angles are very good. The backlight isn’t particularly bright or even and picture quality isn’t perfect out of the box, but there are plenty of settings to tweak. The Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse are both good quality for budget models, with strong tactile feedback when typing and fast response times. A set of USB-powered Gigabyte speakers is a rather worthless inclusion, since without a subwoofer there was no real bass.

The monitor isn’t particularly impressive and the graphics card can’t handle most modern games, but the Rapier is still a very powerful PC. The sizable case, excellent motherboard and power supply mean it’s well prepared for future upgrades, and the overclocked processor should handle just about any application. Ultimately, though, there are other better-balanced systems, such as the latest iteration of the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo Elite.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus182MHz (3.3GHz DMI)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.1GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardAsus P7H55/USB3
Motherboard chipsetIntel H55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/8
Firewire ports (front/rear)1/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (2)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)2 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Seagate Barracuda (ST3500418AS)
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity500GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)ATI Radeon HD 5450
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundVia VT1708S
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
SpeakersGigaByte GP-S4600

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelAOC F22+
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

KeyboardLogitech Wireless Desktop MK250
MouseLogitech Wireless Optical Mouse

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years collect and return
Price£550
Detailswww.chillblast.com