Chillblast Fusion Ryzen 3700X Photo Editing PC

CHILLBLAST’S FUSION RYZEN is far more affordable than most photo editing systems – including the company’s own £2850 Fusion Photo OC VIII – and it’s powerful to boot. Its AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor has eight cores that can support sixteen threads thanks to multi-threading, and it runs at base and Boost speeds of 3.6GHz and 4.4GHz. Those are the equal of anything Intel offers at this price, and the core count is better – Intel’s equivalent Core i7 chips are six-core parts with no multi-threading.

Of course, spending more does get you extra: the  pricier Chillblast machine, for example, features a Core i9 CPU with twelve multi-threaded cores. Elsewhere the Fusion serves up 16GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and a 4TB hard disk. The memory amount is the bare minimum we’d expect and the SSD is just large enough for key tools, but the huge hard disk is a welcome addition.

Chillblast Fusion Ryzen 3700X Photo Editing PC

The Fusion deploys an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card and features 1,408 stream processors and 6GB of memory and it’s easily powerful enough for photo editing. It’s the same GPU as the one featured in the pricier Chillblast machine and, likewise, has no RT cores and no ISV certification. Meanwhile the Gigabyte B450 Aorus M motherboard has spare memory slots and SATA connectors and at the rear it’s got six USB 3.1 ports. However, this affordable board has no spare M.2 connector and no Type-C port.

It’s a good specification at this price, but the pricier Fusion Photo has that 12-core CPU alongside 32GB of memory, a faster SSD and two 3TB hard disks in RAID 1 for data protection, and its motherboard had more storage, PCI and USB connectors.

The components are slotted inside Chillblast’s own workstation chassis. It’s impressive: it has rock-solid build quality, a card reader and loads of space for extra storage. Single-threaded performance is important for photo editing tools and in Geekbench’s relevant test the Chillblast scored 5,259 – a little better than the pricier machine in fact. In PC Mark 10, this machine scored 6,452 – again, slightly faster. In the vital multi-threaded test, the cheaper Chillblast scored 31,574, short of the more expensive machine’s score of 38,073 but better than Intel machines at this price, which tend to score around 30,000 points.

The lesser CPU didn’t hinder this machine’s graphical ability: its 3D Mark Time Spy result of 5,710 is virtually identical to the more expensive machine.

This PC only suffered in tough professional tests. In SiSoft Sandra’s imageprocessing benchmark the Chillblast’s result of 514.35MPix/s was nearly three times behind the more expensive twelvecore machine, and its multi-media result of 813MPix/s was half as quick.

That should come as no surprise – after all, the pricier machine does support four more cores and eight more threads. However, these results are still a little faster than equivalent Intel Core i7 chips.

Overall, the Chillblast PC has enough power to handle the vast majority of photoediting tasks and work applications. It’s only going to struggle if you’re working with loads of huge files or with high-end video, and it’s at this extreme level where you’ll going to have to spend a little more.

Overall, though, the Chillblast is impressive and its performance levels aren’t a million miles away from the more expensive machine. This AMD-based rig will handle most photo editing tasks and, for mainstream, professional work, it’s more adept than rival Intel chips.

Chillblast Fusion Ryzen 3700X Photo Editing PC

The Fusion deploys an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card and features 1,408 stream processors and 6GB of memory and it’s easily powerful enough for photo editing.

Acer ConceptD 5 Pro

ACER IS MAKING a big play for creatives with its ConceptD laptops and this is the first machine to hit the UK’s shores. While not cheap – costing more than £400 over the recent Dell Precision 3530 – it undeniably has the hardware on board to cope with advanced photo editing.

Acer ConceptD 5 Pro

The Intel Core i7-9750H in the ConceptD has six cores with Hyper-Threading, so it can address twelve concurrent threads. It runs with base and boost speeds of 2.6GHz and 4.5GHz, and Acer has paired the Core i7 part with 32GB of DDR4 memory and two 512GB SSDs in RAID 0 alongside a 2TB hard disk. The CPU and memory configurations are similar to the Dell, albeit without support for ECC memory, and the Acer offers better storage.

The Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 on board the Acer uses Nvidia’s latest architecture and offers similar performance to the consumer RTX 2070 Max-Q chip. It offers 6GB of memory and 2,304 stream processors as well as ISV certification, while the Dell has a weaker Quadro P600 with 384 stream processors and 2GB of memory.

In Geekbench, the Acer returned decent scores of 5234 and 22,493, and in PC Mark 10 the Acer scored 5220. Those Geekbench results are level with the Dell, while the PC Mark score is slightly faster.

Cinebench is a moderate-level productivity benchmark, and in its CPU and GPU tests the Acer scored 1,019cb and 190.56fps. The former result equals the Dell while the latter is far better. The Acer performed well in professional tests. In SiSoft Sandra’s CPU-based image processing benchmark the ConceptD

scored 286.26MPix/s – about 40MPix/s better than the Dell. Meanwhile in a graphics processing test the Acer scored 1GPix/s, which is almost 400MPix/s faster. In the 3D Mark Fire Strike test, which evaluates graphics performance, the Acer returned a score of 5,766. That’s miles ahead of the Dell, which scored 1,312.

And then there’s the two SSDs, which deliver read and write speeds of 3,514MB/s and 3,153MB/s. It’s market-leading pace that will keep Windows and applications feeling snappy.

Web-browsing tools and Office applications will
also run flawlessly on the Acer, and the vast majority of photo editing and design applications will likewise run well. You’re only going to experience slowdown if you’re pushing the applications with significant workloads, or if you’re working with 4K video or tough CAD software.

The ConceptD has a 58Wh battery –smaller than the Dell’s 92Wh unit – and its lifespan of five hours and thirteen minutes is three hours short of the Dell. You’ll get through to lunchtime with the Acer, but you won’t manage a full day. The screen is a 15.6in panel with a 4K resolution, so it’s pin-sharp, and its Delta E and colour temperature results of 1.9 and 6,329K are fantastic – good enough to ensure rock solid colour accuracy.

The panel covered 99.8% and 98.9% of the sRGB and Adobe RGB gamuts, so you can work in both colour spaces, and the brightness and contrast levels of 385cd/m2 and 1,480:1 are fantastic – they help the screen deliver huge vibrancy and subtle details. The keyboard is also really good. The Acer is a little heavier than the Dell, and it doesn’t have Thunderbolt or DisplayPort connections, or a card reader. It also suffers slightly when it comes to battery life and thermal performance, and it’s not the most stylish laptop. However, it delivers a huge performance and a great screen, which means that it’s capable of handling most photo editing workloads.

And then there’s the two SSDs, which deliver read and write speeds of 3,514MB/s and 3,153MB/s. It’s market-leading pace that will keep Windows and applications feeling snappy.

The Verdict

Acer’s laptop serves up a tremendous amount of performance for handling photo tasks on the road, and it has top-notch screen quality and would be a killer machine for photographers on the move with plenty of on-board back up space for still and video files. Overall it’s an impressive powerhouse but you will have to dig deep for that laptop flexibility: if you’re likely to be always working from home or a studio you have some more affordable options, such as the Chillblast.

The larger, louder PC blows the Acer away in benchmarks – so there aren’t many photography tasks it won’t handle. That makes it ideal for the home worker who doesn’t need to travel. It’s affordable as well, considering the amount of power it provides, but not particularly subtle or future-proofed, so you’ll need to invest more for these aspects. It’s not particularly portable either, and you’ll also have to factor a display and peripherals into your budget.

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