There is now a certain set of components that make up what is pretty much the perfect sub-£2,000 gaming PC. You need a mid-price Core i7 of the X58, LGA 1366 ilk, a decent oveclocker's mobo and either a HD 5970 or GTX 480.
Get all those into one chassis, with an optional SSD, and you're laughing. Well, so long as you can squeeze the price down below that of the 3XS Cyclone from Scan we checked out last issue.
Combined with the Core i7 920 overclocking goodness (4 whole GHz!) you also got a water-cooled, overclocked GTX 480. And if we hadn't got the price wrong on the 3XS Cyclone then its £1,500 pricepoint wouldn't be impossibly hard to match.
Unfortunately the 3XS Cyclone is actually £1,400, and the extra £300 you'd be expected to pay for this Chillblast rig really doesn't get you much extra.
The overclocked GTX 480 in the Chillblast does a decent job of trying to keep pace with the water-cooled beast in the Cyclone and twin-GPU HD 5970 in Overclockers' £1,641 Titan Viper. Unfortunately, it just can't beat either.
The two cheaper Scan and Overclockers machines are faster almost across the board. By virtue of the excellent Asus X58 motherboard in the Chillblast rig, it does best the same Core i7 930 the Titan Viper boasts. But the dual-GPUs push the Overclockers' rig ahead in the pixel-pushing stakes.
The cold shoulder
Scan has managed to keep the costs down on the Cyclone partly down to its size, but mostly because it has eschewed the current trend of using expensive SSDs as the boot drives. It's still a tough call as to which we prefer: a decent SSD can boost level loads and the like, but it's still difficult to notice the difference in real-world usage between a good HDD and an average SSD.
Apart from the lack of SSD and non-factory overclocked, water-cooled GTX 480 the Scan and Chillblast rigs are almost identical. They both come clothed in the solid CoolerMaster CM 690 II chassis and both use that overclocking-friendly Asus P6X58D-E mobo to look after their CPUs.
Scan has gone for the cheaper, slightly slower CPU, but has overclocked it past the Core i7 930 in the Chillblast machine.
Unfortunately for Chillblast, Scan has taken a chance opting to save money in a few very smart areas. The CPU choice, the decision to overclock the GPU and drop the SSD has meant that the £1,700 rig looks decidedly over-priced for the performance you're getting from it.
It's not a bad rig by any measure. It's just a little too expensive to compete in this crowded market.
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