Best computer for photography? Chillblast Fusion Photo OC Lite review

Best computer for photography? Chillblast Fusion Photo OC Lite review

Is this Chillblast Fusion Photo OC Lite the best computer for photography? For our review, our testing team put it through its paces and found that this powerhouse of a PC can really help photographers get the most out of their photos in the digital darkroom.

Best computer for photography? Chillblast Fusion Photo OC Lite review

Laptops are great for viewing and editing images, but for the very best Photoshop experience a powerful desktop computer and a large monitor are still an unbeatable combination. Chillblast is an established UK builder of high-spec PCs, and its Fusion Photo OC Lite packs enough punch to tackle even the toughest Photoshop demands.

At its heart is a top-end, quad core Intel Core i7 3770k processor. This is far from slow straight out of the box, but the Chillblast boffins have gone all out and overclocked the chip by 30% to really keep loading bars and hourglasses at bay.

With the blast taken care of, the chill refers to water-cooling (who said that water and electrics don’t mix?), which aims to keep the machine’s processor cool without resorting to noisy fans.

You also get 16GB of RAM to handle super high-resolution, multi-layer images and speed up memory-heavy effects such as Content Aware Fill. To quantify all this, in our tests the Chillblast needed just 37 seconds to open a dozen 36-megapixel raw files from a Nikon D800 in Photoshop CS6.

A speedy SSD drive makes for snappy program loading, and although extra file storage is limited to a mediocre 1TB, your images are safeguarded against drive failure by being automatically duplicated across two hard disks.

As with every component of the computer, Chillblast also gives you the option to spec your own monitor. For our test we picked a mid-range 23-inch, Full-HD Asus model.

This monitor shares the same IPS core screen technology as an Apple Retina display (albeit without the same super-fine resolution), meaning viewing angles, colour and contrast reproduction are all top notch –perfect for intensive Photoshop work.

Even pairing the PC with a premium-grade 27-inch monitor would still leave change from the hefty price of a less powerful Apple iMac, plus now that Apple has withdrawn the Mac Pro from UK shores, the tuned Chillblast is a very smart buy indeed.

Price: £1099 (tower only)

Chillblast Fusion Photo OC Lite Review: The Specs

Processor Intel Core i7 3770K, quad core (overclocked to 4.5GHz)
Graphics nVidia GTX 650, 1GB onboard memory
Storage 120GB Samsung 840 series SSD, Dual 1TB hard disks in RAID 1 array
Monitor (optional) 
Asus MX239H, LED backlit, 1920×1080 resolution 
AH-IPS panel

Key specs for photographers

Choose from a selection of 23 to 30-inch widescreen monitors, many of which boast IPS screen technology for the best possible image quality.

Like tuning your car, the Chillblast’s engine has been cleverly boosted, leaving lesser computers eating its binary dust.

Even the best hard disks can fail, so RAID technology gives you a pair of drives that both take care of your work, just in case.

Want more storage, a dedicated scratch disk or a faster graphics card? Just spec it in the customisation options.

Our Verdict

WE LIKE… Carefully-chosen, high-quality components that give excellent speed and reliability, and all for a fair price
WE’D LIKE… The whine from the water cooler’s radiator fan to be quieter. It’s noticeable when the PC is put through 
its paces in a quiet room

Final Score: 5/5

Buy it:


Best Photo Editing Software? 6 budget alternatives to Photoshop tested and rate
Photoshop Curves Tool: 6 techniques every photographer must know
Dramatic Lighting: how to create stylish portraits using simple Photoshop effects
Image Sharpening: how to bring out more detail in your favourite photos
Best photo editing tips for beginners: 18 quick fixes to common image problems