Most small form-factor PCs try to nail several briefs, but the £1,250 Chillblast Fusion Huntsman is taking aim at a very specific market: esports. Chillblast has done this by packing this small machine with powerful components – and by allowing customers to accessorise the Huntsman with designs to show off their favourite team logos. That’s great, but is it enough to help the Chillblast Fusion Huntsman take on rivals like the Zotac Magnus ER51070, the MSI Vortex G25 and the CCL NebulaX? Read our Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC review to find out!
Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC Review – Design
We’re impressed by the Fractal Design Node 202 used for the Chillblast Fusion Huntsman. It’s only 88mm tall, which makes it shorter than the 128mm Zotac, and its 377mm width isn’t bad.
Those dimensions mean that it’s relatively easy to slip the Chillblast into a backpack or underneath a TV. It can stand vertically, too. Given that it’s shorter than the Zotac, we’d argue that both machines offer similar levels of portability.
The Chillblast competes well with other small rivals: it’s a little bigger than the MSI Vortex G25 while offering much better quality, and it’s more compact than the tall CCL NebulaX – another mini-ITX rig that was as lofty as many full-size towers.
The only slight issue is that the Chillblast weighs 7.1kg. That makes it twice as heavy as the Zotac, and even further ahead of the MSI. That could be an issue if you need a system that’s as small and light as possible, but it won’t be a big deal to most people. The Chillblast Fusion Huntsman is still easier than most machines when it comes to attending esports events and LAN parties.
Impressively, the Chillblast Fusion Huntsman doesn’t just have size on its side when it comes to esports. Chillblast will wrap this machine in a design of your choosing – so if you’re an esports team, your systems can be wrapped with your logo and sponsors. If you’re a fan, you can promote your favourite team. It’s free for anyone who buys this machine, and if you don’t want a wrap then Chillblast will use a smart carbon-fibre pattern – seen on our review sample.
Removing five screws grants access to the Huntsman’s interior. One side of the case houses the mini-ITX motherboard and the power supply, and a metal divider separates those components from the graphics card. The GPU connects to the motherboard using a small riser, and a separate cage houses hard disks.
The interior is neat and tidy, which is a little surprising considering the dimensions of this small machine. Every component inside the Chillblast is accessible, just like the CCL machine – but the barebone Zotac machine only allowed access to the storage and memory slots.
Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC Review – Components
The Chillblast Fusion Huntsman uses a GTX 1060 graphics card. It’s one of Nvidia’s most impressive mid-range chips, and Chillblast has used the 6GB version rather than the 3GB variant. That’s important, because it means you’ll have better 1080p performance right now – and more headroom for the future.
The GTX 1060 will play any game at 1080p thanks to its 1,280 stream processors, and performance is boosted with a small overclock. The original core speed of 1,506MHz has been boosted to 1,556MHz. You can also engage the card’s OC mode to run the core at 1,582MHz.
However, the Chillblast’s rivals offer more power. Both the Zotac machine and the CCL NebulaX serve up GTX 1070 cards: that GPU has 1,920 stream processors, 2GB more memory and the same 1,506MHz core clock. The slimmer MSI Vortex G25 uses the mobile GTX 1070.
The graphics card sits alongside a Core i5-8400. It’s Coffee Lake, which means it has Intel’s latest architecture – and six cores. That’s good, but it’s a mid-range processor, which means no Hyper-Threading. The stock speed of 2.8GHz is middling, and it reaches 4GHz with Turbo Boost. It’s chilled by a Noctua NH-L9i. It’s a smart bit of kit: a low-profile cooler that is only 37mm tall.
The processor sits alongside 16GB of 2,400MHz memory, which is a fine capacity but a mediocre speed. There’s a 250GB Samsung 960 EVO SSD and a 2TB hard disk.
This is another area where the Chillblast may fall behind the competition. The Zotac machine had an AMD Ryzen 5 1400 processor with four multi-threaded cores and a 3.2GHz stock speed. The CCL NebulaX had a Ryzen 5 1600 chip with six cores. The MSI Vortex G25 used a Core i7-8700 – so the same architecture as the Core i5 inside the Chillblast, but with Hyper-Threading and more speed.
The Gigabyte Z370N WIFI is a solid mini-ITX motherboard. It’s got dual-band 802.11ac wireless on-board, and at the rear you get six USB 3.1 ports, a Type-C connection and dual Ethernet. That’s great for gaming, and great for such a tiny motherboard.
Elsewhere, the board has RGB LEDs, game-friendly audio circuits and a space M.2 connector. As usual with mini-ITX, though, the memory slots and single PCI socket are already occupied. There’s also only room to add one more 2.5in drive into the Fractal Design case.
At the front of the machine you’ve got two USB 3 and two audio ports. That’s fine, but the Zotac machine went one better with a front-mounted Type-C connector and a card slot.
Impressively, Chillblast’s machine is protected by a five-year warranty that has two years of collect-and-return service. That’s better than the one, two and three-year deals included with the MSI, Zotac and CCL machines respectively.
Interested in an AMD Ryzen build? Check out our in-depth guide to AMD AM4 motherboards – and our top recommendations for every budget and form factor!
The GTX 1060 will handle any current game. It’ll also run any esports title with ease, as games like CS:GO, Fortnite, Overwatch and DOTA 2 are always less demanding than the best Triple-A single-player games. It won’t run games at 4K, but it will provide decent framerates on high refresh-rate screens and VR headsets, especially if you’re willing to tweak graphics settings.
Benchmark scores demonstrate this. Its poorest minimum was a 48fps result with Witcher 3 running at 1080p and turned up to its highest settings – and that’s still an excellent result. When paired with a Witcher 3 average of 58fps, it ensures butter-smooth gameplay.
Elsewhere, the Chillbast’s minimum framerates ranged between 51fps in Crysis 3 and 81fps in Battlefield 4. They’re all excellent scores, and they’re bolstered by averages between 66fps and 102fps.
However, benchmarks also demonstrate that rival machines are usually quicker – no surprise when they all have GTX 1070 graphics cards.
The MSI, Zotac and CCL systems all returned averages of 71fps in Witcher 3, for instance. In Fallout 4, two of those machines ran at beyond 90fps – while the Chilblast averaged 66fps. In Crysis 3, the Chillblast averaged 82fps, but its competitors all hit 100fps or beyond.
The gap between the GTX 1060 and the various GTX 1070 GPUs is demonstrated in 3D Mark’s Fire Strike test. The Chillblast’s score of 11,053 is fine – but its rivals returned scores between 13,266 and 16,178.
Want to know more about AMD Ryzen processors? Check out our in-depth guide right here.
The mid-range Ryzen processor returned solid benchmark scores, even if some other machines will prove quicker.
The Chillblast’s PC Mark 8 result of 4,819 is good, for instance, but the MSI Vortex G25 scored 5,128 points due to its Core i7-8700 CPU. That pattern was repeated in the single-threaded Geekbench test – the Chillblast was good, but the MSI was a little better.
The Chillblast’s six-core i5-8400 processor managed a result of 18,321 in the Geekbench multi-threaded test. That’s another solid score, but the Hyper-Threaded MSI was around 3,000 points faster.
The Chillblast’s mid-range Intel chip may not be able to quite match Core i7 silicon, but that’s no surprise. And, impressively, the Chillblast’s i5-8400 performed well when stacked up against the Ryzen silicon inside the Zotac and CCL systems – in every CPU benchmark aside from Cinebench, it was quicker.
The Core i5 trades blows with Ryzen chips and is unsurprisingly outpaced by Core i7 silicon. For gaming, though, the i5-8400 is absolutely fine – it’ll run any esports title and won’t bottleneck the most demanding single-player games. It’s easily good enough for general-purpose computing and more conventional work tasks, too. The Core i5 chip is also helped by the Samsung SSD, which returned impressive read and write speeds of 3,096MB/s and 1,697MB/s.
The Chillblast Fusion Huntsman was an impressive performer in thermal benchmarks. When idling and running low-intensity tasks – like web browsing and some esports titles – the machine could hardly be heard. When running moderately tough games, it was no louder than a console. If you’re in the middle of a huge LAN event, or using speakers or a headset, you just won’t hear it.
The Fusion Huntsman was a little louder during a full-system stress-test, but it was still no noisier than the current crop of consoles.
The Chillblast’s impressive noise levels were on a par with the CCL NebulaX, which was similarly quiet. The Fusion Huntsman is quieter than the Zotac system and the high-pitched MSI machine.
Those noise results were good, but the Chillblast Fusion Huntsman did become a little warm. During a full-system test the processor peaked at 92°C. That’s a little high, but it’s unlikely that anyone will ever run the CPU at full pelt for prolonged periods. The graphics card, at least, never gave us any thermal problems.
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Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC Review – Conclusion
Our Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC review proves that this is a good-looking and well-built machine that offers impressive portability for esports and LAN events: it’s certainly easier to transport than the CCL NebulaX, and its build quality is far better than the MSI Vortex G25. Only the Zotac Magnus ER51070, with its cuboid design and lighter weight, is easier to slip into a bag – but that machine is louder.
The Chillblast is easy to get inside, and the exterior wrapping service will make this machine appeal to esports teams and fans.
The Core i5 processor trades blows with the Ryzen silicon found inside rivals. And, while the GTX 1060 is slower than the GTX 1070 hardware inside competitors, it’s still got ample speed for any esports game and today’s triple-A titles, and it’ll handle VR headsets and high refresh rates in most cases.
The Fusion Huntsman offers good value, too. It’ll prove cheaper than most Zotac designs once components are added, and it’s hundreds of pounds cheaper than the CCL and MSI machines.
If you’re a frequent traveller or a keen esports player, the Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC review illustrates that this machine is excellent. From the current crop of small systems, only the Zotac Magnus ER51070 offers convincing competition.
The Chillblast Fusion Huntsman costs £1,250 in the UK. Discuss our Chillblast Fusion Huntsman PC Review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or click here to read about the best desktop PCs.
- Solid, smart and easily accessible design
- Free wrapping service
- More affordable than the competition
- Ample speed for esports and single-player games
- Other machines offer more gaming power
- Rival systems sometimes have more connectivity
- Wider and heavier than some competitors
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-8400
Memory: 16GB Crucial CT8G4DFS824A 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI
Case: Fractal Design Node 202
Storage: 250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD, 2TB Seagate FireCuda HDD
Warranty: 5yr labour with 2yr C&R