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CCL Iris Fusion LQ – PC Review

CCL Iris Fusion LQ – PC Review

CCL Iris Fusion LQWater-cooling is easier than ever now thanks to all-in-one kits, but it still takes ample expertise to put together a bespoke system – and that’s what the CCL Iris Fusion LQ offers. This stunning cooling kit chills high-end, overclocked components – and it helps the CCL stand out from its competition. It’s not cheap at £3,100, though, so can our CCL Iris Fusion LQ PC review find out if it’s worth the money?

CCL Iris Fusion LQ PC Review – Design

CCL has crammed the Iris Fusion LQ with water-cooling. The processor sits beneath an XSPC RayStorm Pro waterblock that serves up a stunning mixture of machined aluminium and clear acrylic – so you can see the orange coolant that courses through the Fusion’s various pipes.

The great-looking CPU hardware is paired with an Aorus graphics card that has its own acrylic waterblock.

The front of the case has a 360mm radiator with a trio of fans, and alongside that is the source of the stunning orange coolant: an EKWB XRES 140 Revo D5 reservoir and pump. And all of the pipes and waterblocks are hooked up with chrome fixtures, which lends another sheen of quality to the CCL.

The orange colour scheme is maintained elsewhere. The three fans that are used on the radiator are orange, too, and the single exhaust fan uses the same colour. CCL has carefully braided all of the major power cables in orange, white and black. The motherboard’s LEDs all glow white, and much of the internal metal is black.

CCL Iris Fusion LQThe three-pronged colour scheme looks superb and easily beats rival machines. The Chillblast Fusion Yogsblast Ultimate uses the same kind of Corsair case but looks far less attractive thanks to its more conventional cooking gear.

The CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Extreme is pricier, but that’s due to its components – there’s little in the way of decoration. And then there’s the Scan 3XS Vengeance Aura SLI, which has attractive red lighting in another Corsair 570X case but no bespoke water-cooling.

There’s a lot to like about the rest of the case, too. CCL has relied on the Corsair Crystal 570X, which is a stunning and popular chassis. This version of the case uses a white frame, and it has a white shroud to hide the PSU. The dust filters are black, and the plastic between the filters and the metal uses an attractive honeycomb pattern.

Every side panel is made from tempered glass, which looks great, and the panels are easy to take off if you do need to access the internals. Build quality is exceptional, with no hint of weakness in any of the materials.

There’s only one issue with this case – upgrade room. That’s not a unique problem with this machine. As with any water-cooled machine it’s tricky to get to many of the crucial points of the motherboard. CCL has filled all of the four memory slots, too, and there’s only room for one more hard disk and a couple of SSDs.

Of course, this is only an issue if you plan to upgrade – and with a powerful machine like the CCL, that’s less of a problem. And people don’t necessarily buy a water-cooled PC for tinkering and upgrades, either – it’s all about the visual impact. And CCL’s machine has that in spades.

CCL Iris Fusion LQCCL Iris Fusion LQ PC Review – Components

The Intel Core i7-8700K sits beneath the attractive, two-tone waterblock. The chip has the Coffee Lake architecture, which means numerous improvements – read about those here. And this top-tier chip now has six Hyper-Threaded cores, rather than four, which give it a boost to multi-tasking.

The chip is usually clocked to 3.7GHz, but CCL has done some boosting, so it now runs at a mighty 4.8GHz.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the chip tweaked, though. The Scan 3XS Vengeance Aura SLI ran the chip at 5GHz. Elsewhere, other rivals deploy AMD silicon: the Chillblast Fusion Yogscast Ultimate has a Ryzen 7 1800X, while the CyberPower Ultra Threadripper Extreme serves up a 16-core Threadripper 1950X.

CCL has set this machine up for work as well as play. There’s 32GB of memory, which is enough to handle any work application. There’s a 500GB Samsung 960 EVO SSD and a 4TB hard disk – so you’ve got speed and space.

It’s pretty common to see 32GB of memory inside machines at this end of the market, but few rigs beat the CCL’s storage. The only PC that’s managed it recently is the Chillblast, which had a secondary SSD and two 3TB hard disks in RAID.

The CCL’s CPU isn’t the only part that’s overclocked. The GTX 1080 Ti’s standard speed of 1,480MHz has been boosted to 1,607MHz – a large jump. Elsewhere, the card has its usual 11GB of memory and 3,584 stream processors.

CCL Iris Fusion LQThe Chillblast and CyberPower machines had the same GPU with a lesser overclock, while Scan’s rig put more of its budget into graphics with two GTX 1080 Tis installed.

Everything connects to an Z370 Aorus Ultra Gaming motherboard. It adheres to most of the current conventions when it comes to high-end boards, with beefed-up audio, steel PCI and memory slots and an extra M.2 slot. It’s got loads of RGB LEDs, but no on-board buttons or displays. However, those latter omissions won’t matter to most people.

The backplate is solid, with five full-size USB 3.1 ports and a smaller Type-C connection. It’s got a PS/2 connector for legacy peripherals, and two USB 2 ports and five audio jacks. The machine is well-equipped at the front, with pairs of USB and audio jacks. There are three buttons for altering the lighting.

A Corsair TX750M power supply delivers electricity to the CCL rig. It’s got plenty of power for this machine, and it’s got an 80Plus Gold rating, but it’s only semi-modular. That’s fine, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

CCL Iris Fusion LQ PC Review – Performance

The overclocked, liquid-cooled GTX 1080 Ti is a beast. When testing at 4K its Battlefield 1, Crysis 3 and Witcher 3 framerates were better than the Chillblast and CyberPower machines. The leads were sometimes slim, but it’s not a surprise that the CCL is quicker – the GPU has a better overclock.

The CCL machine’s average pace in Fallout 4 was a little behind those systems, but its minimum framerate was faster. And while its minimum framerate was slower in Shadow of Mordor, its average results were quicker.

The CCL wasn’t just quicker than rivals at 4K – it returned easily playable scores in every test game. It was even faster at lesser resolutions, too. It won’t have any issues with widescreen displays, multi-monitor setups or VR headsets.

Only the Scan 3XS Vengeance Aura SLI and its two graphics cards is faster. Our graph illustrates the sizeable gap between the two machines. Few people will need that power, though – and you’ll have to pay a lot more cash for it.

The overclocked processor proved its worth in benchmarks. Its Cinebench result of 1,546cb was about level with the Chillblast machine with its AMD Ryzen processor and the Scan and its Coffee Lake chip. The CCL was only a little behind the Scan in the Geekbench single-core test, because the latter machine had a heftier overclock.

That small gap between the CCL and Scan machines was carried over into the Geekbench multi-core test. The CCL returned an excellent result of 25,120. That’s miles ahead of the Chillblast.

The wild card here is the CyberPower machine. That £3,469 rig had a Threadripper 1950X processor with sixteen cores, and its Cinebench and Geekbench results were far ahead of the CCL rig.

The CyberPower’s extra cores and better multi-threaded results mean that it’s the best option for intensive work tasks and high-end productivity software. However, the CCL rig will still blast through those tasks, and it’ll handle any conventional applications – and every game on the market.

It’s certainly got more speed than the Chillblast’s stock-speed AMD Ryzen processor, and there’s little to choose between the CCL and the Scan and its marginally better overclock.

There’s a familiar Samsung 960 EVO SSD. It delivered read and write results of 3,016MB/s and 1,761MB/s. They’re excellent speeds that help the CCL feel extremely responsive.

CCL may have kitted this system out with overclocked components, but the extensive water-cooling meant we had no thermal issues. The graphics card’s top temperature of 45°C is almost chilly. The processor peaked at 89°C, which is fine – quieter than many machines at this end of the market.

The CCL also remained quiet. During every test it only produced a modest, low-pitched rumble – easy to drown out with speakers or a headset.

CCL Iris Fusion LQCCL Iris Fusion LQ PC Review – Conclusion

The CCL Iris Fusion LQ is a stunning machine with a high price. And still, somehow, it ends up being a tempting middle ground in a market full of strong rivals.

The CyberPower rig is more expensive and its Threadripper processor will only be justified by extreme workloads. The Scan machine is pricier but it’s only worth buying if you need two GTX 1080 Tis. And the Chillblast is cheaper, but its CPU performance is a little poorer and it doesn’t look as slick.

CCL’s rig, in contrast, offers great CPU performance and ample gaming pace inside a machine that looks more attractive than any of its rivals. You’ll have to pay a little bit more to get the high-end design, of course, but many people will be happy to spend extra for a system that looks this good. If that’s you, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

The CCL Iris Fusion LQ costs £3,100 in the UK. Do you fancy a system with all of this water-cooling, or do you reckon it’s a waste of money? Discuss our CCL Iris Fusion LQ 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.

The Good

  • Stunning gaming speed
  • Great application performance
  • Solid components elsewhere
  • Superb water-cooling and build design

The Bad

  • A little pricier than some rivals;
  • Tricky to access some components

The Specs

CPU: 3.7GHz Intel Core i7-8700K overclocked to 4.8GHz
Memory: 32GB 3,000MHz DDR4
Graphics: Aorus GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Motherboard: Z370 Aorus Ultra Gaming
Storage: 500GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD, 4TB Seagate Barracuda HDD
PSU: Corsair TX750M 750W
Ports: Front: 2 x USB 3, 2 x audio; Rear: 5 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2, 1 x PS/2, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audio, 2 x audio
Warranty: 3yr C&R

Review Date
Reviewed Item
CCL Iris Fusion LQ

About Author

Mike Jennings

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