Chillblast Fusion League eSports PC
Our friends over at Chillblast recently sent us one of their super-affordable entry-level gaming PCs to test. Our aim was to let them (and all of you!) know just how much value for money you're getting from your £379.99 investment. To give it a thorough testing we passed the machine over to one of our CS:GO players; George "hudzG" Hoskins. He put it through its paces in a variety of primetime eSports titles to make sure the Chillblast Fusion League eSports PCs covers all the requirements of a budding professional gamer. In a nutshell, this package delivers huge value for money and is a perfect starter package for those looking for their first gaming PC.
The Chillblast Fusion League eSports PC aims to be the perfect entry level system for anyone looking to compete in eSports titles such as Dota2, League of Legends, Starcraft 2 or Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Coming in at a base price of £379.99, you get an AMD A10-7860K Black Edition processor armed with on-board AMD Radeon R7 graphics, 8GB of RAM and a Seagate Hybrid SSD / HDD storage system. It will be interesting to see how this combination fairs against similarly specified Intel/NVIDIA machines. We'll start off by listing the components of the base machine, which is exactly the specification we're testing today. We mention this because, as with all Chillblast PCs, the system can be fully customised.
Processor: AMD A10-7860K Black Edition CPU (4 x 3.6 - 4GHz | Stock CPU Cooler) Case: Chillblast F3 Gaming Case - Black / White Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A68HM-HD2 Motherboard Memory: 8GB DDR3 1866MHz Memory (2 x 4GB Sticks) Hard Drive: Seagate 1TB SSHD Hybrid Drive Power Supply: Aerocool 80 PLUS 500W PSU Sound Card: Onboard High Definition Audio Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit Extras: Chillblast Cable Management, Windows Optimisation Service, 5 Year Warranty, 2 Years Collect/Return & 90 days free Bullguard Internet Security
Upon receiving the PC from Chillblast’s courier we were pleasantly surprised when opening the box. It was very well-packaged and the PC itself sits inside the aesthetically pleasing Chillblast F3 Gaming Chassis. Despite relying on the AMD stock cooler to keep the CPU temperature under control, the noise output was next to zero; in fact we barely even noticed that it was turned on. If the lights didn't illuminate we wouldn't have known the machine was running at idle, which just goes to show what a great job AMD has done with its current generation of “stealth” stock CPU coolers. Another bonus is the light weight of the PC - perfect if you're attending eSports events as lugging a heavy PC around can be hard work.
We decided the best way to begin testing the PC was by putting it through its paces in four well-known benchmarking tools; 3DMark, Cinebench, Geekbench and PCMark. The key thing to remember here is that this is an entry-level gaming PC, so if you're used to seeing the biggest and best PC and components benchmarked, some of the scores may seem a little on the low side. Later on, we'll dive into some actual gaming tests and let you know how the Fusion League gets on – far more important than synthetic benchmark results!
The results on paper look modest, but as we mentioned, you have to remember this PC isn't intended for super high-end 4K gaming. Nevertheless, we thought it was important to run these industry-standard tests to see where the PC sits amongst others and it performs on a par with our expectations. Clock for clock AMD CPUs are not quite as powerful as their Intel counterparts, but if you compare the prices of the two, comparably clocked Intel processors will set you back nearly 75% of the cost of this entire PC, so the AMD-based Fusion League machine delivers great value for money. The on-board Radeon R7 graphics also thrash the Intel on-board equivalents – they deliver results comparable to an NVIDIA GTX 650 discrete solution which is pretty impressive for an APU like this.
Real-world Game play Tests
Now we've got the initial benchmarking out of the way we can look at the real-world gameplay tests. These are the ones that you should pay the most attention to, as they will give you an accurate representation of what to expect from the PC when playing a variety of eSports titles– far more useful information than a series of arbitrary numbers! The three games we tested with this system are Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Overwatch and League of Legends. First of all we tested CS:GO. Here we used the “FPS Benchmark Map” which was specifically created to stress-test a PC for any and all scenarios possible within a CS:GO match. This includes multiple grenades exploding at once, the expulsion of vast amounts of ordinance and lots of smoke grenades blowing simultaneously. We ran the test 4 times on each set of graphical settings to get an average. Below you can see the outcomes of each test. Top Left is the result (72.62FPS) of the game running at 1920x1080 with all graphical settings set to low, Top Right is the result (57.02FPS) of the game running at 1920x1080 with all graphical settings set to their maximum, Bottom Left is the result (97.42FPS) of the game running at 1024x768 with all graphical settings to low and finally, Bottom Right is the result (96.42FPS) of the game running at 1280x720 with all graphical settings set to low. Running CS:GO as a competitive title with all settings set to maximum is unrealistic as your goal is to maximise the Frames Per Second (FPS) you get for the smoothest gameplay and maximise the contrast of your opposition against the backdrop. This is why 3 of the 4 tests were benchmarked in such a way. 1280x720 and 1024x768 were also used alongside the more familiar 1920x1080 as these are two of the most common resolutions used by professional players.
We were pleasantly surprised by the results when we ran the benchmarks at 1280x720 and 1024x768 as we were able to average around 100FPS. This is great when you consider this map is designed to stress your computer under the most extreme conditions; actual in-game playing conditions should be far less stressful. To confirm this we decided to play 20 minutes of deathmatch to see how it held up. Again we were pleased to see a consistent 100-120FPS (as shown below) with no mouse lag or stuttering. When you drop down to a 5 vs 5 competitive game mode you'll be reducing the stress on the PC even further which meant, more often than not, we saw a consistent frame rate of 120FPS; perfect for those running with 120Hz gaming monitors.
Happy with the quality of game play in CS:GO we decided to try out another title this PC was designed for; League of Legends (LoL). We managed to make it through the tutorial and a random solo-queue game (around 2 hours of gameplay) with the game running at 1920x1080 with all graphical settings set to high. The game ran just as perfectly as it does on our reference PC – an overclocked Intel Core i7 and NVIDIA GTX970-based build. We encountered no issues with FPS drops throughout any team fights and were able to hold an average of over 100FPS without any noticeable lag. Based on this, we can definitely say that this PC is pretty-much perfect for your MOBA titles including LoL and DOTA2. We'd even go as far to say that this PC is all you'd need if you were aiming to play professionally, as anything over and above this frame rate would be overkill for these games!
Finally, we wanted to see how the Fusion League PC performs in Blizzard's latest title; Overwatch. A brand new First Person Shooter (FPS) title should certainly be a steep test for this machine! We were able to get around 50-60FPS at 1280x720 with all graphical settings set to low (again, in-game options that almost all competitive players choose in order to maximise their frame rates and to "dumb down" the in-game environment to minimise distractions). With Overwatch being such a fast paced game there were a few times where lag became somewhat noticeable - at times we didn't quite feel like the PC could keep up. This is somewhat expected given the intensity of the game and the price of this system. We still consider the frame rate to be exceptional for the hardware being used, in this case we are just more used to the performance of our reference PCs which are much more powerful (and expensive!). An inexpensive upgrade that would make Overwatch and other demanding AAA games run at much higher frame rates would be to enhance your Fusion League with a dedicated graphics card. Chillblast offers 3 options to give you a boost in performance and realistically, it will come down to your budget as to which you go for.
Encoding and use as a 2nd Streaming PC
One other thing we thought we'd throw at the PC was deploying it as a dedicated machine for encoding gaming streams being sent to the Twitch.tv platform. Realistically this isn't something your typical user is going to be purchasing this PC for, but we had access to the hardware here and wanted to see what we could throw at it. If it helps just one person then it was worth the effort! After a couple of hours of tweaking our Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and our PC capture card, we were able to pair the Fusion League with another high end gaming machine so that we could utilise the League’s AMD CPU solely for encoding. This means that all of the streaming and encoding CPU usage is offloaded from the active gaming PC, allowing higher frame rates and smoother gameplay whilst streaming. Unfortunately the AMD APU isn't the strongest when it comes to this kind of task so we were unable to push a reliable 1080P / 60FPS stream through it, but at 30FPS and 720P it handled it comfortably and allowed us to play and stream with no hit to the in-game experience; a great bonus. For £379.99 it's a great option and a good entry point if you're looking for a 2nd, dedicated encoding PC.
So there you have it! It’s important to point out again that Chillblast doesn't advertise the Fusion League eSports PC as being capable of blitzing the latest and greatest AAA titles - which is fair and to be expected at this price point. It does however give you an extremely compelling package if you're looking for maximum value for money and want to venture into eSports. Overall I think the Fusion League eSports PC is a great piece of kit to get you started with PC Gaming / eSports and it does exactly what it says on the tin. £379.99 is not a lot more than the current-gen gaming consoles and with a PC you get the glorious world of STEAM, Origin, Uplay and Battlenet to grab hundreds of thousands of gaming titles (often for pennies). Any parents that may be reading this should not only be working with the total cost of ownership in mind, but also the fantastic career opportunities learning strong PC skills deliver – something a console doesn’t provide. Do it for your kids; introduce them to PC Gaming without breaking the budget! If you're a budding eSport enthusiast looking to get started in the wonderful world of PC gaming then I'd also recommend pairing this PC, along with some of Razer's fantastically accessible gaming peripherals, so that you can get the most out of your gaming experience.
As a closing note, we were impressed with the performance of AMD's current line-up, as the last time we got our hands on an AMD powered machine was back in the Athlon days. Whilst it’s clear that AMD is behind Intel's latest offerings, the gap is definitely closing and with the release of Xen / Polaris in the coming months, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens.
You can view further information on the Chillblast Fusion League eSports PC on their website HERE