Chillblast Hard Core Photo OC review

Price when reviewed

Intel’s Core 2 Duo is a phenomenal CPU platform, and the three systems to feature it this month are streets ahead of the rest in terms of performance. But Chillblast has taken things to another level, overclocking a top-end E6700 from 2.66GHz to 3GHz.

Chillblast Hard Core Photo OC review

The aptly named Hard Core Photo OC is breathtaking in use, making our 2D benchmarks seem too easy with an overall score of 1.78. And with 2GB of 800MHz DDR2, you won’t be kept waiting even with several photos open at once. The CPU is cooled by Zalman’s CNPS9500 Aero Flower cooler, and the Asus 7600 GS is even passively cooled to further quieten the system to an impressive 35dBA when idle.

Performance is aided by the 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor as the boot disk. Offering only 74GB of storage, it’s bolstered by two 400GB Seagate hard disks, set up as RAID1 to protect photos against a disk failure. The DVD writer burns to dual- layer and DVD-RAM discs, and there’s a media card reader on the front of the stylish Cooler Master Mystique 631 case.

Chillblast opts for a 20in ViewSonic VP2030b, which is a versatile monitor. The height-adjustable stand tilts, swivels and can pivot 90 degrees. Overall, image quality is solid; we noted a slight lack of detail in dark areas, but it’s certainly better suited to photo editing than the glossy Asus or the inferior ViewSonic VA2021w. It also has a four-port USB hub, although the ports are inconveniently positioned on the rear.

If you don’t already own editing software, Chillblast offers Photoshop CS2 for a bargain price of £420. You can also add the ColorVision Spyder2 Suite for £125. The deal is rounded off with integrated Wi-Fi, a high-quality Logitech MX1000 laser mouse and Windows XP Professional. At this price, the three-year collect-and-return warranty is the least we’d expect.

Chillblast’s Hard Core Photo OC is an expensive machine and both the Mesh and PC Nextday systems offer better value. But the awe-inspiring performance goes a long way towards justifying the price: it’s significantly faster than anything else here, so if you’re looking for the ultimate photo-editing PC, this is it.

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