Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird review
The chassis may put off some with its outlandish design, but this is an extremely impressive all-round system that delivers great performance throughout
We’ll get the sticking point out of the way first: the Zalman Z11 Plus case Chillblast has used for its Fusion Thunderbird is an acquired taste. Its jutting, angular side-pods and pointed fins result in a chassis that’s every bit as over the top as you'd expect from a high-end gaming system, and the blue lights make it almost as bright. We can understand if you’ve made your decision based on looks alone, but we’d urge you to keep reading, since the Zalman chassis has much to recommend it.
For starters, build quality is excellent. The metal side panels and plastic accoutrements feel strong and well built, with the flimsy plastic fins at the top the only weakness. The interior is finished with the same matte-black paint as the outside, and the Fusion Thunderbird is very tidy.
The Akasa Nero 3 heatsink is large, but doesn’t impede the two free DIMMs, and although the free hard disk bays aren’t tool-less, they have sturdy side-facing caddies. The Asus P8Z77-V motherboard has two free PCI Express x16 slots, although the third slot runs at only x4 speed.
It’s all powered by a Core i5-3570K, and Chillblast has managed to eke out 4.8GHz from the silicon - the same overclock achieved by Wired2Fire in its Hellspawn Predator. The Chillblast takes the performance crown here, though, managing to best its rival in our benchmarks: the Fusion Thunderbird scored 1.18, and the Wired2Fire managed just 1.15.
Gamers will be familiar with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 670, which lines up against the AMD Radeon HD 7950 selected by Wired2Fire. In our Very High quality Crysis test its 66fps average was 3fps ahead of the Hellspawn Predator. There's not much in it when it comes to gaming performance, then, but the Chillblast is marginally quicker - a key factor when it comes to playing the latest games.
The choice of a 240GB Mushkin SSD works well, too. Its large-file write speed of 491.5MB/sec isn't far behind the 507.4MB/s we've recorded from the fastest drives, and its small-file write and read speeds of 209MB/sec and 44.2MB/sec are, again, among the best results we've seen. The accompanying 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk also performed well, and the rest of the specification extends to 8GB of RAM, again from Mushkin, and a Blu-ray reader.
There’s little to worry about when it comes to thermal performance or noise, either. The processor’s peak temperature of 88°C is well within Ivy Bridge’s limits, and the graphics card was even cooler, hitting a top temperature of 71°C. A maximum power draw of 306W is reasonable, and even under stress testing the Fusion Thunderbird emitted only a low hum on similar levels to the Wired2Fire.
Despite the looks, it really is a fine PC. It offers excellent performance across applications, games and storage, it’s well built and it runs quietly - and, crucially, it's £999 inc VAT price is more palatable than the Wired2Fire's £1,162 cost.
If the case isn't to your taste then the Wired2Fire is a superb if more expensive alternative but, if not, then the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird is our new base unit of choice.
|Warranty||2yr collect and return|
|Total hard disk capacity||2,240GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i5|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.40GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||4.80GHz|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||Akasa Nero 3|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel Z77|
|Conventional PCI slots free||2|
|Conventional PCI slots total||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots free||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||3|
|PCI-E x1 slots free||1|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||2|
|Internal SATA connectors||6|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||2|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Graphics card||Palit GeForce GTX 670|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce GTX 670|
|Graphics card RAM||2.00GB|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk||Mushkin Chronos Deluxe|
|Hard disk usable capacity||223GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/600|
|Hard disk 2 make and model||Seagate Barracuda 7200.14|
|Hard disk 2 nominal capacity||2,000GB|
|Hard disk 2 formatted capacity||1,810|
|Hard disk 2 spindle speed||7,200RPM|
|Hard disk 2 cache size||64MB|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo|
|Sound card||Realtek HD Audio|
|Chassis||Zalman Z11 Plus|
|Case format||Full tower|
|Dimensions||260 x 525 x 498mm (WDH)|
|Power supply||OCZ StealthXStream 2|
|Power supply rating||700W|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||4|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||yes|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|Front panel USB ports||4|
|Front panel memory card reader||no|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 7|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||81W|
|Peak power consumption||306W|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||102fps|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||1.18|