Chillblast Fusion Panther review

£2039
Price when reviewed

Chillblast has won plenty of awards with past PCs, so we were optimistic when the Fusion Panther arrived in our labs. As well as including a bundle of high-end peripherals, the system is crammed with the latest components.

Star of the show is an Intel Core i7-4770K, Intel’s newest top-of-the-range Haswell CPU, which Chillblast has overclocked from 3.5GHz to 4.6GHz. This helped the system race through our application benchmarks with a score of 1.28. It’s one of the best scores we’ve seen, easily beating the 1.19 scored by the A-Listed CyberPower Infinity Fusion GT. It isn’t quite a new record, though: the PC Specialist Vanquish Enforcer scored 1.3.

Chillblast Fusion Panther

The Panther’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 graphics card is also a flagship model, and it’s certainly good enough for high-end gaming, with a massive 2,304 stream processors and an 863MHz core. It drove the Fusion Panther to an impressive 92fps in our Very High quality 1,920 x 1,080 benchmark – enough to play any top-end game. That’s 12 frames ahead of the CyberPower, although four slower than the PC Specialist.

The system comes with Windows 8 installed on a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a drive offering sequential read and write scores of 511MB/sec and 483MB/sec, among the best we’ve seen from a single drive. Those scores are also more consistent than the RAID0 array in the CyberPower, which returned a stunning sequential read result of 818MB/sec, but a poor write pace of 183MB/sec. In addition, you get 16GB of RAM and a 2TB hard disk – twice as generous as what comes inside the CyberPower.

The Chillblast isn’t noisy, even when stress-tested, and Haswell’s power-saving technology pays dividends with an impressively low idle power draw of 66W – a significant drop compared to the CyberPower’s 92W. The processor’s top temperature of 87°C is just about comfortable, and the graphics card’s peak of 79°C is well within thermal limits.

When it comes to the case, we love the Fractal Design Define R4’s minimal good looks and exceptional build quality. The matte black finish continues on the inside, as does the high build standard, with cables tidied away expertly. A small heatsink on top of the processor allows easy access to two empty memory sockets, and the bottom half of the board is well stocked, with three extra SATA 6Gbits/sec ports, extra USB 3 headers, a spare PCI Express x1 slot and two PCI slots. There’s an empty PCI Express x16 slot, too, but it’s restricted to 4x speed.

Chillblast Fusion Panther

Hard disks can be added via six empty 3.5in bays. These aren’t tool-free, but are conveniently side-facing and made from sturdy metal, with rubber pads to absorb vibrations.

The 27in Asus MX279H monitor is one of the classiest displays we’ve seen included with a PC. Its thin bezel and circular, metallic stand ooze class, and quality is excellent. An average Delta E of 3.4 and colour temperature of 6,134K represent decent colour accuracy, and the IPS screen delivers good brightness and contrast levels of 287cd/m2 and 926:1. Blacks are deep and rich, and there’s plenty of shadow detail in even the darkest games and movie scenes.

The Razer Abyssus mouse and DeathStalker keyboard are a mixed bag. The former is excellent, with an accurate action and light, reliable buttons, but the latter disappoints. Its backlit Scrabble-tile keys look good, but the keys are soft and spongy. The final peripheral, a set of Creative A520 speakers, delivers abundant volume and bass while retaining lively treble and mid-range sounds.

This is an extremely quick, well-built PC, but it isn’t quite able to wrest the crown from the CyberPower. That’s still an extremely powerful system, albeit one with a smaller 23in monitor, and it’s almost £600 cheaper. Although the Fusion Panther is undoubtedly a top-end PC, it isn’t quite exceptional enough to justify the price.

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Basic specifications

RAM capacity 16.00GB
Screen size 27.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency 3.50GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.60GHz

Motherboard

Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z87-D3HP
Motherboard chipset Intel Z87
Conventional PCI slots free 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 780
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Samsung 840 Pro
Capacity 256GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 2,048GB

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Contrast ratio 926:1
Screen brightness 287cd/m2

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Creative A520
Speaker type 5.1

Case

Chassis Fractal Design Define R4
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 232 x 523 x 464mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Corsair CX750
Power supply rating 750W

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 8

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 66W

Performance tests

Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.28
Responsiveness score 1.10
Media score 1.39
Multitasking score 1.35

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