Chill­blast Fu­sion Hal­cyon

Custom PC - - CONTENTS - MIKE JEN­NINGS

The Chill­blast Fu­sion Hal­cyon is the first sys­tem we’ve seen with a new In­tel Core i9 pro­ces­sor and, ac­cord­ingly, it’s a beast, with huge mul­ti­threaded power along­side top-notch hard­ware. The Core i9-7900X is stun­ning. It uses the 14nm Sky­lake-X ar­chi­tec­ture, and it has ten Hy­per-Threaded cores that can ad­dress 20 con­cur­rent threads.

Chill­blast runs the CPU at its stock speed of 3.3GHz, which means the CPU has an all-core Turbo speed of 4GHz and a 2-core peak of 4.5GHz. You can get faster clock speeds else­where, but those fre­quen­cies are still in front of last year’s Core i7-6950X, and the new chip also has more ef­fi­cient cir­cuitry and bet­ter Turbo Boost abil­i­ties.

The new chip re­tains the top-tier TDP of 140W, and it has a mighty count of 44 PCI-E 3 lanes – the most of any cur­rent In­tel con­sumer pro­ces­sor. Chill­blast has slot­ted the new CPU into an Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gam­ing mother­board. It’s prov­ing an early favourite with X299 rigs, also be­ing used in­side last month’s Scan 3XS Car­bon Aura, which was built around an 8-core Core i7-7820X over­clocked to 4.8GHz.

The new board has an at­trac­tive chunk of Per­spex with the ROG logo at its cen­tre, and its black PCB has dra­matic heatsinks filled with RGB LEDs. The board has two M.2 slots, and the usual beefed-up au­dio and net­work­ing, and its three 16x PCI-E slots are all re­in­forced with steel. Else­where, the mother­board serves up on-board but­tons, a POST dis­play and di­ag­nos­tic LEDs. Plus it features dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and USB 3.1 Type-C sup­port.

The board is dom­i­nated by Palit’s GTX 1080 Ti card. It’s vast, with a huge JetStream cooler with two 100mm fans, a chunky alu­minium heatsink and RGB LEDs. That bodes well for cool, quiet op­er­a­tion, but the GPU isn’t over­clocked – its core re­mains at 1480MHz and its 11GB of RAM sits at 11000MHz.

Mean­while, the mem­ory, stor­age and PSU are all ex­cel­lent. There’s a 500GB Sam­sung 960 Evo NVMe SSD, and the 3TB hard disk gives you loads of data stor­age. The 32GB of DDR4 mem­ory will be overkill for gam­ing, but is wel­come in a sys­tem with a 10-core pro­ces­sor, which peo­ple are more likely to use for mem­ory-in­ten­sive work and run­ning many vir­tual ma­chines. Scan’s ma­chine was kit­ted out sim­i­larly, with the same mem­ory and PSU, but with a 2TB hard disk. The Chill­blast’s Cor­sair RM850x PSU also has am­ple grunt, a fully mod­u­lar de­sign and an 80 Plus Gold cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Then there’s the Cor­sair Crys­tal 580X chas­sis, which fully em­braces the trend for tem­pered glass: its side, front and top pan­els are all tinted, and can all be re­moved with quar­tets of thumb­screws. Be­neath the glass is a frame­work of mesh hon­ey­combs, and be­hind the front panel, there are three 120mm fans with RGB LEDs con­trolled with but­tons on the top. The case’s build qual­ity is rock solid both in­side and out­side, and the area be­hind the mother­board tray is deeper than on most cases, en­abling Cor­sair to cram a fan con­troller and pairs of tool-free 2.5in and 3.5in drive bays into the space. They’re sturdy and easy to use, and the smaller bays are va­cant along with one larger bay.

A metal chan­nel is in­cluded to help with ca­ble tidy­ing, and Chill­blast has done a great job – wires at the back are routed well. The tidy build­ing con­tin­ues to the front, where the black-coated ca­bles are barely vis­i­ble as they emerge through rub­ber-ringed holes. The Cor­sair Hy­dro cooler sits un­ob­tru­sively with two 120mm fans, and its coolant tubes don’t ob­struct the eight mem­ory slots.

Up­grade room is a lit­tle trick­ier to find. Ca­bles at the bot­tom of the board and the sheer size of the GPU make it awk­ward to add ex­pan­sion cards and reach the SATA con­nec­tors, and there isn’t stor­age room aside from the bays be­hind the mother­board.

That’s a mi­nor com­plaint on this ma­chine, though, which de­liv­ers enough power to ban­ish any thought of up­grades for a long while.

The war­ranty is good too. You get a full two years of col­lect and re­turn parts and labour cover, fol­lowed by an­other three years of re­turn to base labour cover.

Per­for­mance

Not sur­pris­ingly, the 10-core CPU is amaz­ingly fast in heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware. Its Hand­brake video en­cod­ing score of 646,183 beat the over­clocked 8-core Scan and was twice as quick as con­ven­tional sys­tems with over­clocked, quad-core pro­ces­sors.

The Chill­blast’s multi-task­ing re­sult of 212,414 was sim­i­larly dom­i­nant – nearly 30,000 points ahead of the Scan. The Chill­blast’s stock-speed CPU fell be­hind in im­age

edit­ing, but that’s no sur­prise – this bench­mark re­lies on sin­gle-core pace, where the over­clocked Scan is faster.

The rapid pro­ces­sor is bol­stered by the fa­mil­iar Sam­sung SSD, which de­liv­ered ex­cel­lent read and write re­sults of 2,175MB/sec and 1,659MB/sec re­spec­tively.

A stock speed 10-core CPU isn’t the best gam­ing op­tion, but the GTX 1080 Ti still makes the Chill­blast a for­mi­da­ble ma­chine in games. It de­stroyed our 1080p and 2,560 x 1,440 gam­ing bench­marks, and its weak­est 4K min­i­mum was an ex­cel­lent 36fps in Fall­out 4 at Ul­tra set­tings. The over­clocked Scan is quicker, but only by a cou­ple of frames per sec­ond.

The Chill­blast didn’t give us ther­mal is­sues either. Its CPU and GPU delta Ts of 52°C and 47°C are fine, and the noise lev­els were mod­est dur­ing bench­marks, and it’s vir­tu­ally silent when idle.

Con­clu­sion

The Chill­blast Fu­sion Hal­cyon has no se­ri­ous flaws. The stock-speed 10core pro­ces­sor de­liv­ers light­ning pace in heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware, and the graphics card is re­li­ably rapid. There’s loads of mem­ory, fast stor­age, a fully stocked mother­board and a high-qual­ity PSU.

It’s built well: the in­te­rior is tidy and ac­ces­si­ble, and the case is sturdy and at­trac­tive. The Chill­blast trades blows with the Scan; the Fu­sion is faster in heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware, but the 3XS is quicker in games and much cheaper too. It’s a slight shame the Chill­blast isn’t over­clocked at this price, although it isn’t sur­pris­ing given In­tel’s use of ther­mal paste rather than sol­der un­der the CPU’s heat­spreader. You can get faster gam­ing ma­chines for less money, but if you want a gam­ing ma­chine that can also rip through heav­ily multi-threaded soft­ware as fast as pos­si­ble, the Chill­blast Fu­sion Hal­cyon is an ex­cel­lent if ex­pen­sive ma­chine.

2 The black-coated ca­bles are barely vis­i­ble as they emerge 3 The Palit GTX 1080 Ti card coped with all our game tests, even at 4K 1 The 10-core CPU isn’t over­clocked, but it’s still quick in multi-threaded apps

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