Chillblast's Fusion Spark was unlikely to be a winner based on its performance. Powered by a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7300, this PC simply doesn't have the CPU power to compete with faster systems.

Fitted with the same motherboard and memory as Arbico's super-fast CD8465 EX, we can see immediately the difference made by the slower processor. The Arbico scores nine points above the Chillblast Fusion Spark's 111 in our WorldBench 6 processing-speed test.

The Chillblast Fusion Spark's understated two-tone black and grey case is tasteful. Front USB and audio ports are available, while a pair of LEDs indicate power and hard-drive access.

The Chillblast Fusion Spark's 19in Hanton is a budget display but features a pleasingly thin bezel, dual analogue and digital connectors, and attractive silver control buttons.

The 250GB hard drive will be adequate for most users and is quite common at this price point. Nonetheless, the Palicomp offers double the capacity of the Chillblast Fusion Spark and a faster processor.

Gaming performance lags behind the other systems here. In common with the Best Buy CyberPower, the Chillblast Fusion Spark also features an nVidia GeForce 9500 GT - although this time it's a 512MB model. Its fanless design helps keep the system quiet, particularly when gaming.

There's a single pair of memory slots, making expansions beyond 4GB difficult. But the Chillblast Fusion Spark is the only system in the chart to include a set of stereo speakers and subwoofer, and it provides considerably better audio than the competition.


Chart ranking: Budget desktop PCs (March 09 issue)

  1. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 600
  2. Arbico CD8465 EX
  3. Eclipse Matrix i85a465
  4. Palicomp Excalibur E85-19
  5. Chillblast Fusion Spark