Chillblast Fusion Halcyon
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.
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.
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