Chillblast Fusion Dominator review

£1320
Price when reviewed

Chillblast has carved out a deserved reputation for delivering PCs that push the boundaries of both performance, but recently it has also coupled speed with good prices and sound design. It’s Fusion Juggernaut and Fusion Interceptor machines are both examples of fast yet well thought-out PC packages.

Aside from another silly name, first impressions suggest that the new Fusion Dominator isn’t going to divert from this successful formula. The specifications, for one, are bursting with potential power. Inside the angular case you’ll find the second quickest card in Nvidia’s range – a GeForce GTX 26 – and this is accompanied by 4GB of RAM, a terabyte of hard disk space and an Asus P5Q Deluxe motherboard complete with Intel’s recently-released P45 chipset.

Overshadowing all of these expensive parts, however, is the processor. An Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 is a hugely powerful CPU and, as usual, Chillblast has boosted the standard clock speed of 2.66GHz by overclocking it. The Dominator’s Q9450 runs at 3.4GHz and, when coupled with a 1,333MHz FSB and 12MB of level two cache, it offers a ferocious amount of power.

Our 2D benchmarks were, accordingly, blown away. An overall score of 2.01 is one of the quickest we’ve ever seen, and is only beaten by a handful of systems. The record-breaking Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut topped out a slightly-quicker 2.1, for instance. There’s more than enough power here for the most demanding of applications, even if you’re running several at once.

The graphics card doesn’t let the side down, either, delivering exceptional performance in our demanding Crysis benchmarks. The low and medium tests were blown away with scores of 135fps and 68fps respectively, and the intensive high-quality test, run at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, was perfectly playable at 34fps.

It’s not the best result we’ve ever seen – the Cyberpower Gamer Ultra M2 Quad ran a frame quicker in high settings, and the Fusion Juggernaut managed 53fps thanks to its GeForce 9800 GX2 graphics. Nevertheless, the Dominator is still more than quick enough to handle any title on the market today.

The rest of the specification is similarly impressive. A massive 1TB hard disk offers enough storage for the largest of game and media collections, and the discrete sound card – a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme – offers better audio quality than the typical integrated chip.

All of this is housed in the superb Antec 900 chassis. Cooling is handled by an enormous 200mm fan rotating in the top of the case, and there are four more 120mm fans dotted around the front, back and sides of the chassis to maintain airflow throughout.

An Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 is normally a good bet for keeping a processor chilled, but it struggled a little here. The overclocked processor idled at 49 degrees Celsius, with this figure rising to a toasty 69 degrees when the Chillblast was running through our multiple applications benchmark.

There’s plenty of scope for expansion, though, even with the considerable CPU cooler and double-height graphics card inside. You have two free DIMM slots to augment the 4GB of RAM. Several free 5.25 and 3.5in drive bays cater for additional optical drives, hard disks or card readers, and there’s a pair of PCI Express16x and standard PCI slots free on the Asus motherboard – so another GTX 260, and a potentially powerful SLI setup, could be on the cards.

Warranty

Warranty 2 year(s) return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Quad
CPU nominal frequency 2.66GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 3.40GHz
Processor socket LGA 775
HSF (heatsink-fan) Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P5Q Deluxe
Motherboard chipset Intel P45
Conventional PCI slots free 2
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 3
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 2
PCI-E x1 slots total 2
Internal SATA connectors 6
Internal PATA connectors 2
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed N/A

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 260
Graphics card RAM 896MB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards N/A

Hard disk

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 1.00TB
Internal disk interface SATA
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model Dell 2408WFP
Resolution screen horizontal 1,900
Resolution screen vertical 1,200
Resolution 1900 x 1200
Pixel response time 6ms
Contrast ratio 3,000:1
Screen brightness 400cd/m2
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 1
VGA inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 1

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis Antec 900
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 206 x 536 x 493mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 8
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel FireWire ports 6
Front panel eSATA ports 1
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Logitech Desktop Wave

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 182W
Peak power consumption 285W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 2.01
Office application benchmark score 1.73
2D graphics application benchmark score 2.28
Encoding application benchmark score 1.63
Multitasking application benchmark score 2.42
3D performance (crysis) low settings 34fps
3D performance setting High

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