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Chillblast Fusion Challenger 6850 review

Kat Orphanides
1 Feb 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
715
inc VAT

A powerful PC that's suitable for upgrading; unfortunately, the release of Intel's incompatible Sandy Bridge processors reduces its future upgrade potential.

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Specifications

4.01GHz Intel Core i3-530, 4GB RAM, N/A display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Chillblast’s Fusion Challenger 6850 is designed for upgraders – it has a large case and a motherboard with plenty of spare slots. However, although it’s built to be modified, Chillblast hasn’t compromised on the base system’s performance. Its processor is a simple Core i3-530, but it’s been overclocked to a blistering 4GHz, helping the PC to a satisfactory overall score of 142 in our benchmark tests.

Chillblast Fusion Challenger 6850

Performance in our gaming tests was even better, thanks to a 1GB ATI Radeon HD 6850, which produced frame rates of 82.8fps in Call of Duty 4 and 47.7fps in Crysis. Even in our most challenging test, a DirectX 11 STALKER benchmark, it averaged 32.5fps. We’ve seen few better performances, least of all from a PC at this price.

Internally, the Challenger is ideally laid out for upgrading. Rather than been rigidly pinned down, all the spare power cables leading from the 650W power supply are tucked away between a side panel and the motherboard mounting panel, although you’ll still need to cut a couple of cable ties to free them. The compact cooler doesn't significantly obstruct the memory slots, although RAM with large cooling fins could present a problem.

Chillblast Fusion Challenger 6850 inside case

One of the Asus P7P55D-E EVO motherboard’s three PCI-E x1 slots is blocked by the graphics card, but there are still two going spare. There are also two spare PCI slots and an extra PCI-E x16 slot. There are four spare SATA ports - the other three connect to the Blu-ray drive, 1TB hard disk and the case’s eSATA port. One of the free ports is SATA III - ideal for a fast-booting SSD. There’s plenty of room for more drives, with five spare 3 1/2in bays and three empty 5 1/4in bays.

On the back of the PC you’ll find six standard USB and two USB3 ports as well as eSATA and Firewire, while sockets at the top of the case provide two more USB and another eSATA connection. The motherboard also has the usual 7.1 and optical S/PDIF audio outputs, Gigabit Ethernet and a pair of PS/2 ports.

Chillblast Fusion Challenger 6850 back

The Fusion Challenger costs £715, which is fair for its performance and specification. One concern is that it’s running on old technology, as it uses an LGA1156 Core i3 rather than one of the new LGA1155 Sandy Bridge processors. However, at present, the Sandy Bridge Core i3 chips haven't been put on sale, and you won't be able to overclock them significantly anyway, as there's no unlocked K-designated chip in the line up.

Despite this, the CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition easily outstrips the Challenger’s i3-530 in terms of processor power, if not gaming performance, and it costs just £50 more. The Fusion Challenger is a good PC, particularly if you want room to make your own improvements. Though be sure that you don’t want one of those improvements to include an LGA1155 processor.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus182.4MHz
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.01GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Memory4
Memory typePC3-10600
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardAsus P7P55D-E EVO
Motherboard chipsetIntel P55 Express

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/8
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/1
eSATA ports (front/rear)1/1
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 ports3
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Samsung HD103SJ
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity1,024GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)1GB ATI Radeon HD 6850
Graphics/video ports2x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort

Sound

SoundVIA VT1828 High Definition Audio CODEC
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

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

Display

Screen modelN/A
Native resolutionN/A
Screen inputsN/A

Other Hardware

KeyboardN/A
MouseN/A

Software

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

Buying Information

Warrantytwo year collect and return
Price£715
Supplierhttp://www.chillblast.com
Detailswww.chillblast.com