Chillblast Tornado Quadro review

Price when reviewed

Chillblast’s party trick is overclocked CPUs, so it was of no surprise to find the Tornado Quadro’s Core 2 Quad QX6700 running at 3GHz (rather than 2.66GHz) when we booted it up. Add to this a 10,000rpm 74GB Western Digital Raptor as the main system disk and a GeForce 8800 GTX card inside, and it’s the fastest PC of the group overall.

The Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro keeps the CPU running, and the system itself is quieter than average at 38dBA from the front when idle. The speed boost this provides is largely imperceptible during general use, but the Overall 2D benchmark score of 1.98 shows its performance advantage over the majority. We didn’t see a significant rise in 3D frame rates, but with Nvidia’s Vista drivers still in their infancy it’s hard to be certain this won’t change in the future.

Given the raw power, it therefore follows that the Chillblast is one of the more expensive PCs on test, but the other components do a decent job of keeping the value at a reasonable level. For a start, Chillblast uses the same futuristic Cooler Master case as the Labs-winning Evesham, with four USB ports on the front and plenty of expansion space.

In the PCI slots sit a Hauppauge WinTV HVR1100 hybrid TV tuner and a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music card, so you can take advantage of Vista’s Media Center TV and DVD capabilities. The 7.1 Creative speakers are standard fare in this Labs, but the more interesting addition is Logitech’s EasyCall speakerphone. It sits by your PC and has a built-in microphone, so you can make Skype calls without a handset. It’s a novelty rather than a must-have, but it’s useful nonetheless.

Considering the price, we were a little disappointed by the two-year warranty and the 20in Samsung SM205BW TFT. With most integrators opting for 22in screens, the Samsung seems small in this company, although the 1,680 x 1,050 resolution remains on a par. It’s not a bad TFT, with decent colours and no blurring or ghosting in games, but it reduces the Chillblast Tornado’s appeal somewhat.

All things considered, the Tornado Quadro is a powerful and well-equipped PC with some nice extras, but its strengths are put into perspective when sat next to the Evesham Solar Quattro G8. With a dual-digital tuner, Wi-Fi, a three-year on-site warranty, twice the hard disk capacity and a 22in TFT for just £83 more, it offers much better value.

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