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Chillblast Fusion Aurora review

Kat Orphanides
12 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
650
inc VAT

Chillblast has balanced price and performance perfectly to build a superb mid-priced desktop PC.

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Specifications

3.1GHz Intel Core i5-2400, 4GB RAM, 21.5in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Chillblast has recently built a raft of expensive award-winning PCs, but although the Fusion Aurora is designed to be able to handle games, home entertainment and processor-hungry tasks with equal ease, it's much cheaper.

The Aurora comes with a 21.5in AOC F22+ monitor. It has a matt finish, DVI and VGA inputs and fairly well-balanced colour. It's not the most accurate, high-contrast or evenly lit monitor around, but none of its flaws are noticeable in isolation. A bit of height adjustment would have been nice, but it covers the basics and has a resolution of 1,920x1,080. The supplied wireless mouse and keyboard are a basic Logitech set: they work and are comfortable. A pair of speakers is an unusual addition these days and it's a shame the cheap Sweex set isn't great quality.

Chillblast Fusion Aurora

The most interesting components are a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 graphics card and an Intel Core i5-2400. Neither is at the absolute top of their range but both are very capable bits of kit that mean this PC should handle the most demanding software for at least the next couple of years. The Core i5-2400, unlike the closely related i5-2500K, can't be overclocked, but is nonetheless fantastically powerful, scoring 186 overall in our benchmark tests. The GTS 250 graphics card also performed well, with a playable frame rate of 29fps in Crysis at high quality, an excellent 56fps in Call of Duty 4 and even 21.5fps in our demanding Stalker test.

The Asus P8P67 LE motherboard has loads of upgrade potential with one free PCI-E x1 slot (a second is blocked by the graphics card), three PCI slots and a spare PCI-E x16 slot. 4GB of RAM is fitted, but the board can handle up to 16GB. Two SATA2 ports are occupied, leaving two spare and three spare SATA2 ports, plus an eSATA port on the back. The back panel also has a FireWire port, two PS/2 ports and eight USB ports, two of which are USB3. There are another two USB ports at the front and plenty of headers on the motherboard.

The case is very plain on the inside, with standard-issue drive cages and enough room for another six 3 1/2in drives and three 5 1/4in drives. The case isn't well insulted against either dust or sound, but the standard Intel CPU cooler and single case fan don't make much noise. We're more concerned about the amount of dust and fluff likely to accumulate through the case's wide vents. Regular cleaning or fine mesh screens are advisable.

Despite this minor quibble, this is one of the best PCs you can get for £650. It even has a brilliant two-year collect-and-return warranty. It doesn't have the fastest processor, but this is a sensible trade-off with a good motherboard and quality graphics card that's easily up to most tasks. This great selection of components works together to make the Fusion Aurora our Best Buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2400
Processor external bus100MHz (Sandy Bridge DMI)
Processor multiplierx31
Processor clock speed3.1GHz
Processor socketLGA1155
Memory4
Memory typePC3-10700
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardAsus P8P67 LE
Motherboard chipsetIntel P67

Ports

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

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)2 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports5
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays6

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Samsung HD103SJ
InterfaceSATA2
Total storage capacity1,000GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 450
Graphics/video portsHDMI, DVI, VGA

Sound

SoundRealtek ALC892
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out, stereo out, mic in
SpeakersSweex SP020V2 2.0

Removable Drives

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

Display

Viewable size21.5 in
Screen modelAOC F22+
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

KeyboardLogitech Cordless Desktop MK 250
MouseLogitech Optical Desktop MK250

Software

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

Buying Information

Warrantytwo year collect and return
Price£650
Detailswww.chillblast.com