Introduction and Specification
Chillblast is an established UK manufacturer of high end PC systems. Historically the company has focused on products for gamers and enthusiasts, but now offers a range of workstation PCs for the professional market as well. Today we are looking at the descriptively, if unimaginatively, named “Chillblast Fusion Photo Workstation PC”.
The product is available in two forms; one with a monitor, keyboard and mouse and one as a pure base system. Considering the massively powerful internal hardware beating within this workstation, both variants are competitively priced, costing £1499.99 from Amazon.co.uk for the system with peripherals and £1349.99 for the base unit only.
Chillblast provides a generous 2 year warranty covering parts, labour and courier costs for a duration of 2 years. Customers then revert to a pay-as-you-go lifetime extended warranty where for a flat fee of £70, Chillblast will pickup your machine, perform unlimited labour and deliver it back to you.
At the heart of the machine lies Intel’s fastest quad core processor, the i7 2700K. This has been overclocked by Chillblast engineers to a punchy 4.3GHz. The chip is probably capable of more, but in a workstation where reliability is just as important as performance, it is a sensible clock level to choose. Backing the chip up is the Asus P8Z68-V LE motherboard, a feature rich model with 6GBps SATA and USB 3.0 support. As it uses the Z68 chipset the board also supports Intel’s QuickSync video transcoding, as well as SSD caching.
Storage wise Chillblast uses a two-pronged approach. Installed on a 60GB Corsair solid state drive is the operating system (Windows 7 Professional 64 bit). This uses up around 18GB of space, leaving 40GB free for applications that you use regularly. Naturally, if you are installing an application that is particularly sizable, there may not be sufficient space available on the SSD. Chillblast therefore provides two 1TB conventional disks to provide extra space. This is also where you would store any data archives, log files or multimedia collections. As standard these two drives are configured in a RAID 1 array, whereby one of the two drives acts as a perfect mirrored backup for the other. This should protect you in the event of a catastrophic drive failure and means you have an up-to-the-second backup of your data.
Installed within the motherboard’s four memory slots is no less than 16GB of memory. This is a huge allocation, and ensures your ability to effectively multitask even when working on immense data sets. It also means you can run a final stage rendering pass or video encode in the background and still have access to a perfectly usable PC system. If you feel the need for even more memory, the motherboard supports a maximum of 32GB, but given the current cost of 8GB density memory modules, Chillblast has made the right call in sticking to 4GB sticks.
An LG Blu Ray writer is included, allowing you to back up your operating system and applications to a single optical disk. Those using the system as a video workstation will also appreciate the ability to burn their HD video content directly to high density Blu Ray RW media.
Graphics are handled by a Quadro 600 video card with 1GB of memory. This is an entry level professional video card which is just about right for a photo workstation. It comes with a single dual link DVI port, supporting resolutions of up to 2560 x1600, and a Display Port which can be used to connect a second monitor, either using a native DP connection or using a DP-DVI adaptor cable. Chillblast includes one such cable in the accessories box.
Keeping everything cool within the case is a total of five fans. A front intake 120mm fan ensures that fresh, cool air is fed to the chassis’ interior, whilst a single 120mm exhaust found directly behind the CPU cooler exhausts hot air before it has a chance to stagnate. The Xigmatek 500W power supply also has a single 120mm fan inside ensuring quiet operation, whilst the CPU is kept cool by an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2 heat sink and fan. This popular unit is both effective and quiet, and is a fine choice for a machine running at this clock speed. The final fan is a 40mm unit mounted to the video card. This is RPM controlled and runs quietly enough when idling, though you can hear it spin up occasionally when performing tasks that tax the GPU.
A wireless networking PCI Express card is included, ensuring you can connect to your router regardless of whether your PC is in the same room as your router or not. The motherboard also provides a Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, six audio jacks, Optical SPDIF digital audio and a single PS2 port.
- Intel Core i7 2700K overclocked to 4.3GHz
- Asus P8Z68-V LE Motherboard
- 16GB of Memory (expandable to 32GB)
- Quadro 600 Professional Video Card
- 60GB Corsair Force 3 SSD Drive
- 2 x 1000GB SATA 7200rpm Hard Disks in RAID 1
- LG Blu-ray Rewriter Drive (Supports burning to BD, DVD, CD)
- Xigmatek 500W Power Supply
- Internal Card Reader Drive
- On board High Definition Audio
- Windows 7 Professional 64bit OEM
- 802.11N 300Mbps Wireless card
- Asus 1920x1080 VS247H 24 Inch PC Pro A-Listed Monitor (in variant with peripherals)
- Cherry Keyboard and Mouse (in variant with peripherals)
- 3 x USB 2.0 ports on front of case
- DVI and DP video connectors