Chillblast Fusion Interceptor review

£1369
Price when reviewed

The new range of ATI graphics cards, the HD Radeon 4000 series, has generated quite a bit of excitement at PC Pro. They’re practically as quick as the equivalent new GPUs from Nvidia, but cost about half the price. Suffice to say, we were just as excited when the first CrossfireX rig boasting a pair of new ATI cards – two HD 4850s, in this case – arrived in the Labs.

Chillblast’s effort doesn’t disappoint, either, with 3D performance across the range of our benchmarks generally impressive. Our low and medium-quality Crysis benchmarks were dispatched with little fuss – although they didn’t show a huge amount of improvement over results with a single card.

However, when we ran the test with high-quality settings and a resolution of 1,620 x 1,200, we saw a significant improvement: from 31fps with a single card to 39fps with CrossfireX, a gain of around 30%. As impressive as these results may be, though, it’s still not quite enough to topple the score of 43fps from the Mesh Ultimate XT940 GTO, which came packaged with a single Nvidia GTX 280 card.

Very high settings showed a similar level of performance, with a score of 21fps with a single card increasing to a playable 30fps with two GPUs – one of the best results we’ve seen in this test from any PC.

It’s faster than the 25fps scored by the Cyberpower Gamer Ultra M2 Quad, which had a single Radeon HD 4870 card. Impressively, this score was also only three frames behind that achieved by the formidable Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut, which came complete with an Nvidia 9800 GX2.

Results in Call of Duty 4 – which has a dedicated multiple-GPU option, unlike Crysis – were even more impressive. Once again, our less-demanding tests were handled with little fuss: in the medium benchmark, two cards outperformed one with a score of 257fps to 135fps. The high quality settings test showed a similar level of improvement, with the CrossfireX setup scoring 145fps, compared to 71fps from one card.

Call of Juarez exhibited dramatic improvements at lower resolutions but at higher settings the CrossfireX rig stalled when compared to performance from a single HD 4850 card. In our medium settings test, the multi-GPU arrangement scored 79fps compared to 41fps from a single card. At high settings, though, both configurations hit 30fps.

Super fast

Performance in 2D is spectacular. The Interceptor has an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 inside, overclocked from its stock speed of 2.66GHz to 3.4GHz, and this resulted in a score of 1.92 in our application-based benchmarks. It’s not far of the 2.1 scored by the Fusion Juggernaut, our current favourite .

The rest of the specification has also been put together to eke more performance out of the powerful core components. An Asus Rampage Formula motherboard – part of the enthusiast Republic of Gamers range – comes with plenty of oversized specifications: Intel’s X48 chipset, support for a 1,600MHz FSB speed, the ability to handle up to 8GB of RAM and an LCD post display that monitors the temperature and performance of the board.

In this case 4GB of RAM is mounted in the board, keeping the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium company – although a 32-bit version of the OS is available from Chillblast if you’d prefer. The 750GB hard disk isn’t as generous as the 1TB of storage included with the Mesh Ultimate, but it’s more than enough for a vast media and game collection.

Warranty

Warranty 2 year(s) return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 750
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 Rampage Formula Republic of Gamers
Motherboard chipset Intel X58 Express
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? yes
3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD4850
Graphics card RAM 512MB
Number of graphics cards 2

Hard disk

Hard disk Samsung
Capacity 750GB

Drives

Optical drive Samsung
Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

Monitor make and model Samsung SyncMaster 245B
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,200
Resolution 1920 x 1200
HDMI inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers none
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme

Case

Chassis Antec 1200
Case format Full tower

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
FireWire ports 2
eSATA ports 1

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Razer Diamondback 3G, SaitekEclipse II

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 222W
Peak power consumption 377W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.92
Office application benchmark score 1.45
2D graphics application benchmark score 2.20
Encoding application benchmark score 1.88
Multitasking application benchmark score 2.14
3D performance (crysis) low settings 39fps
3D performance setting High

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