Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird review

£998
Price when reviewed

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.

Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird

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.

Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird

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

Warranty2yr collect and return

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity2,240GB
RAM capacity8.00GB

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency3.40GHz
CPU overclocked frequency4.80GHz
Processor socketLGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan)Akasa Nero 3

Motherboard

MotherboardAsus P8Z77-V
Motherboard chipsetIntel Z77
Conventional PCI slots free2
Conventional PCI slots total2
PCI-E x16 slots free2
PCI-E x16 slots total3
PCI-E x1 slots free1
PCI-E x1 slots total2
Internal SATA connectors6
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free2
Memory sockets total4

Graphics card

Graphics cardPalit GeForce GTX 670
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingHigh
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce GTX 670
Graphics card RAM2.00GB
DVI-I outputs2
HDMI outputs1
DisplayPort outputs1
Number of graphics cards1

Hard disk

Hard diskMushkin Chronos Deluxe
Capacity240GB
Hard disk usable capacity223GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/600
Hard disk 2 make and modelSeagate Barracuda 7200.14
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity2,000GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity1,810
Hard disk 2 spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 cache size64MB

Drives

Optical disc technologyBlu-ray reader/DVD writer combo

Additional Peripherals

Sound cardRealtek HD Audio

Case

ChassisZalman Z11 Plus
Case formatFull tower
Dimensions260 x 525 x 498mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supplyOCZ StealthXStream 2
Power supply rating700W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays4

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)2
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
3.5mm audio jacks6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports4
Front panel memory card readerno

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption81W
Peak power consumption306W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings102fps
3D performance settingHigh
Overall Real World Benchmark score1.18
Responsiveness score1.24
Media score1.24
Multitasking score1.19

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