Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut 2 review

Chillblast’s original Juggernaut was a record-breaking PC that delivered the best benchmark results we’d ever seen, so its successor has a lot to live up to. We’re pleased to report that first impressions are good.

The feel of quality begins with the Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced chassis. At 511mm tall and 528mm deep, it’s taller and longer than the Antec Nine Hundred Two used by the A-Listed Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire, and boasts excellent build quality that’s on a par with the Antec. As usual, the front is decorated with meshed panels, but the parallel strips of chrome and curved edges make it stand out from the crowd.

The top of the chassis also serves up a unique feature. As well as the pair of USB 2 ports, audio jacks and eSATA, there’s a SATA/300 dock in a recessed area. It’s the first time we’ve seen anything like this on a case, and enthusiasts who regularly swap or test hard disks, or those migrating files from one PC to another, will find it useful.

Pop off the side panel and the Cooler Master continues to impress. The matte-black interior is extremely tidy, with the motherboard mounted on an easily-removable tray, and the meticulous build is backed up with a decent array of spare ports and sockets. The Asus P6X58D-E motherboard serves up two free PCI Express x16 slots (although the second only runs at x8 speed if the first is occupied), plus single PCI Express x1 and PCI slots. There’s a trio of spare DIMM sockets, too, and they’re not blocked off by the Akasa Nero heatsink.

Elsewhere, four hard disk bays and three 5.25in bays lie vacant. There are no front-facing 3.5in bays, however, so if you want to fit a card reader or fan controller, you’ll have to buy a converter.

Plenty of stock has been placed on keeping the machine quiet, with the PSU (a 750W Thermaltake silent model), hard disks, and even the processor cooling fan all sitting on rubber mounts. Despite these efforts, however, the Chillblast does emit a constant, quiet whirr.

Taking pride of place beneath the Akasa cooler is an Intel Core i7-930 processor. It’s the first time we’ve seen this 2.8GHz, 45nm part since its February release, and Chillblast has overclocked the core to run at 4GHz. It’s an ambitious tweak that pays off in our benchmarks: an overall score of 2.58 is extremely impressive, and although not quite the fastest we’ve seen, will be more than enough for games, video editing or whatever other demanding task you care to throw its way.

Performance is undoubtedly helped by the use of a 60GB Corsair Nova SSD as the system drive, while traditional mechanical storage is provided in the form of a 1.5TB hard disk. There’s also 6GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM and a Blu-ray drive.

Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut 2

Graphical duties are handled by an ATI Radeon HD 5870, in this case a Sapphire Vapor-X model that sports a quiet cooler and 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. In our Crysis tests, the GPU proved its worth, returning a score of 74fps in our High quality test run at 1,600 x 1,200, and gaining three-figure scores in our less-demanding Medium and Low quality tests.

At more demanding settings the Chillblast scored 46fps and 39fps in the Very High quality test run at 1,600 x 1,200 and 1,920 x 1,200 respectively, and produced a near-playable framerate of 25fps in the same test run at the unlikely resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. It’s more than enough power to handle the world’s most demanding titles.

Unfortunately, the Chillblast’s superb application performance was marred by high temperatures. We stress-tested the machine and found the 45nm processor peaked at a toasty 95 degrees Celcius a little close to the fabled 100 degrees barrier for comfort. The graphics card peaked at a more comfortable 63 degrees.

We’d prefer to take a little bit of a performance hit than run at these sorts of temperatures for long periods, but we’re more confident about the peripheral complement. Taking pride of place is a Samsung B2430H monitor. Its 24in diagonal and 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution make it suitable for watching HD movies and quality is good, with only marginal backlight bleed across the top and bottom edges giving cause for concern. Samsung’s glossy finish lends it an air of sophistication, and we were pleased to see HDMI, DVI-I and D-SUB inputs on the rear.

The Razer Arctosa keyboard and Abyssus mouse add to the quality feel, and Creative’s A500 speakers top the specification off nicely, offering plenty of volume and booming bass.

This package doesn’t come cheap, though, and at £1,599 exc VAT, it’s far more expensive than its main rival, the £1,199 exc VAT Wired2Fire. The Chillblast only improves on it in small increments: it’s barely faster in our application benchmarks, for instance, and its peripherals and chassis aren’t much better, either. The Wired2Fire can be kitted out with two HD 5870 cards for a total cost of £1,469 exc VAT, still cheaper than the Chillblast.

Couple the high price with the processor’s high running temperatures, then, and it’s clear the Juggernaut 2 isn’t perfect. Its lightning-quick specification, solid chassis and quality peripherals make it a tempting money-no-object choice, but for us it doesn’t offer quite enough value.

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