Chillblast Fusion Gemini review

£1503
Price when reviewed

This latest offering from Chillblast has the potential to be one of the most powerful and muscular machines to ever enter the PC Pro labs. Intel’s 2.83GHz Core 2 Quad Q9550 processor – overclocked to an eye-watering 3.4GHz – and an ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card should certainly provide blistering performance.

And, in our 2D tests, the Fusion Gemini didn’t disappoint. Its powerful CPU propelled the machine to a score of 2.15 – quicker than the 1.67 scored by the A-Listed Cyberpower Gamer Ultra M2 Quad, and even faster than the 2.1-scoring Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut. It’s even quicker than three out of the five PCs in our Ultimate PCs Labs test.

The ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card delivers a huge amount of gaming performance, too. Our low and medium-quality Crysis benchmarks were dispatched without fuss, the Gemini achieving 108fps and 64fps respectively, and it cantered through our high-quality, 1,600 x 1,200 test at a deeply impressive 50fps – faster than both the Cyberpower and Chillblast’s own Fusion Juggernaut.

The Gemini also demonstrated its gaming abilities at higher resolutions and levels of quality. When we increased the resolution to 1,920 x 1,200 and quality settings to very high, where it remained for the rest of the tests, the Chillblast managed 37fps. Increasing the resolution to 2,058 x 1,536 saw the PC still maintain a playable framerate of 31fps, and the Gemini only faltered when we increased the resolution to 2,560 x 1,600, which saw the framerate drop to a choppy 24fps.

Room to expand

Elsewhere, Chillblast has put together a suitably powerful machine. Four gigabytes of RAM is more than enough to handle intensive multi-tasking, and a 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F1 hard disk provides plenty of storage. There’s also a Blu-ray drive, output from which is piped to the monitor via a HDCP-enabled DVI connection.

As well as being spacious and equipped with plenty of ports and sockets, the Antec 1200 chassis offers plenty of upgrade options: an empty PCI-Express 16x slot offers potential for a CrossfireX setup and a pair of fallow DIMM sockets are also ripe for an upgrade. Several 5.25in and 3.5in hard disk bays also sit empty.

Neat touches abound around the chassis. Six fans help keep components chilled, and a sunken area in the roof of the case is available for storing small peripherals. There’s an eSATA port on the front and all of the usual ports – including six USB sockets, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and FireWire – on the rear.

One area where this PC isn’t so strong, though, is noise. All those fans scattered around the case contribute to a loud, distracting whirr. Fan controls sit on the front and back of the machine, but even reducing fan speed to minimal levels still left a noticeable buzz.

Added extras

Samsung’s SyncMaster 245B 24in TFT is one of our favourite panels, and for good reason: its native resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, incredibly accurate colour reproduction and a hugely adjustable stand make it a great performer. Inputs don’t include HDMI, but DHCP-enabled DVI-I and VGA are fine for most PC-related purposes.

The accompanying speakers, Logitech’s X-540, don’t often appear in the PC Pro labs, and are a fine replacement for the usual S220 or Creative T6100 sets that we usually see. Sound quality is good, with the five satellites providing rich, even treble and the subwoofer offering deep, rumbling bass.

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