High-end system manufacturer Chillblast is usually quick out of the traps with the latest kit – and with an Intel Sandy Bridge processor under the hood, the interestingly named Fusion Beachhead is no exception. This complete PC package comprises a desktop PC, TFT flat-panel monitor, plus the usual speakers and input devices – though you can opt to buy the system as a base unit, if you prefer.
Sandy Bridge inside
First things first. The crowning glory of this system is obviously its Intel Core i5 2500K CPU. As standard, this chip runs at 3.3GHz, but Chillblast has used its overclocking wizardry to ramp this up to a much meatier 4GHz. At this clock speed, the Fusion Beachhead is the fastest system we’ve ever tested by some distance – and that includes those based upon the earlier flagship Core i7 980X. Since the price of that processor alone approaches the cost of this complete system, Sandy Bridge is a very significant upgrade over the previous generation.
Impressively this overclock does not add significantly to the Beachhead’s noise output. The Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro is virtually inaudible, while the PSU and case fans are also very quiet until stressed unduly. If we were to levy one criticism at the Beachhead, it would be the 500W rating of the PSU – those wanting to upgrade to beefier graphics cards in the future would get better mileage out of a 600W model.
Underpinning the Beachhead’s Sandy Bridge processor is an Asus P8P67 LE motherboard. This is the entry-level variant in the P8P67 series (we reviewed the micro-ATX variant here), but it’s still a capable performer. It supports Crossfire graphics configurations, and thanks to a supplied expansion card, you get support for USB 3.0 devices too. But if you want FireWire and better overclocking support, you may want to consider an upgrade to a fuller-fat version of the P8P67 board.
Chillblast has been generous with the memory allocation: 8GB should be more than enough for most users. And the 1TB Samsung F3 disk remains our favourite hard drive. You also get a Blu-ray combi drive, allowing you to watch high-definition movies as well as burn conventional DVDs and CDs.
With a Radeon 6850 1GB video card included, the Beachhead is as adept at gaming as it is for general use. Call of Duty: Black Ops was perfectly smooth at full detail on the included full-HD Iiyama monitor, and we were very impressed with the system’s DirectX 11 performance as well.
The extremely intensive Stalker: Call of Pripyat was playable even at DX11 Ultra quality, delivering an average frame rate of more than 40fps over the course of our benchmark.
Well rounded package
As well as quality internals, the peripherals provided with the Beachhead are tip-top, too. An Iiyama E2409HDS monitor is one of our favourite screens at its price point and an HDMI port means you can run a games console through it as well as your PC, if you wish. The keyboard, mouse and S-220 speakers are simple affairs but of the usual high quality we have come to expect from Logitech.
All in all, the beachhead is a lightning fast package, and at £999 inc VAT it provides outstanding value for money.
As we were going to press with this review, Intel announced a potential defect with the P67 chipset that relates to the possible degradation of the SATA II ports. In our review system, both of the Beachhead's drives were attached to the unaffected SATA III ports. Chillblast is advising customers wanting more than two hard drives to opt for the P8P67 motherboard option, which has two additional unaffected SATA III ports compared to the LE edition.