The best professional workstations for any budget

This Chillblast system is another eye-catching design. This one is still black, like most workstations, but the Corsair Crystal Series 680X is a Borg-like cube in shape, which really makes it feel like a supercomputer. With a 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X inside, this system lives up to that image as well.

The supplied 64GB of 3,200MHz DDR4 RAM sounds ample, but our benchmarks suggest 128GB is better for a system with 32 cores or more. Like most of the other systems in this category, Nvidia’s Quadro RTX 5000 matches the processor well for modelling capability.

The generous storage provision includes a 2TB Seagate Firecuda 520 SSD for operating system and apps. This PCI Express 4 NVMe M.2 device provides fast sustained reading of 4,984MB/sec and writing at 4,252MB/sec. A 6TB Seagate Barracuda Pro 7,200rpm hard disk handles general data, with sequential reading of 239MB/sec and writing at 234MB/sec.

You’d hope that a chassis this big has plenty of room for storage upgrades. There are two more 3.5in bays alongside the one holding the existing hard disk, and four 2.5in bays. Perhaps not as much as you might expect, but certainly enough. Like the Corsair chassis supplied with Chillblast’s cheaper systems, this one incorporates some bling RGB lighting, although our sample sensibly came with the lighting turned off by default.

Hampered by the 64GB of RAM – the first time we’ve ever written those words – the Fusion Ripper Render was the slowest 3970X-based system in our benchmarks, achieving 646 overall. That’s only two points quicker than the 24-core Threadripper from Armari. It was also the slowest with the Maxon Cinebench R20 render. However, it took less time than Workstation Specialists’ system to complete the Blender Gooseberry frame with CPU only, and its Adobe Media Encoder CC 2020 video encoding was second only to Armari’s Magnetar. The modelling performance with SPECviewperf 13 is also second to Armari in many viewsets, though, with the notable exception of snx-03.

The Fusion Ripper Render RTX comes in well below the budget for this category, at a penny under six grand inc VAT. However, it’s not the fastest in its class, and the larger hard disk doesn’t make up for its RAM deficit over Workstation Specialists’ offering. We would also have liked 2.5Gbit or 10Gbit networking. But this is still an extremely powerful, well-specified workstation for the money.

Chillblast Fusion Ripper Render RTX 5000 specifications

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Processor3.7GHz AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X
MotherboardGigabyte TRX40 Aorus Pro WIFI
Expansion slots8 x RAM slots (4 free), 4 x PCIe x16 (3 free), PCIe x4 (1 free), 3 x M.2 (2 free), 8 x SATA 600 (7 free)
RAM64GB DDR4, 3,200MHz
GPUPNY Quadro RTX 5000, 16GB GDDR6
Outputs4 x DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C VirtualLink
SSDSeagate FireCuda 520 2TB NVMe M.2 PCI Express 4.0
Secondary drivesN/A N/A N/A, Seagate Barracuda Pro 6TB
Optical drivesN/A
Dimensions (WDH)Corsair Crystal 680x (344 x 423 x 505mm)
PSU make and model (power output)Corsair AX1200i 80 Plus Gold (1,200W)
CPU coolerEnermax LiqTech II TR4 360 RGB watercooler
Rear portsGigabit Ethernet, 5 x 3.5mm audio jack, optical S/PDIF, 5 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C), 4 x USB 2.0, Wi-Fi
Front/top ports3.5mm combo audio jack, 2 x USB 3, USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C)
Operating systemWindows 10 Pro 64-bit
Warranty (parts & labour unless stated)5yr (2yr C&R, 3yr RTB labour-only)
James Morris

Dr James Morris has worked as a technology journalist for over 25 years, including spending nine years on the staff of market-leading computer magazine PC Pro, the last five of which were as the publication’s editor. He specialises in enterprise-grade software and hardware, with a particular focus on content creation. He launched a pioneering video channel for in 2006 and ran the video reviews channel for for four years. He also runs a successful online digital content and commercial video production company, t-zero communications Ltd.

Dr Morris is a prolific technology writer and contributes commercial content for major IT brands including AMD, BlackBerry, Dell, Cognizant, HP, and IBM. He published a book on artificial intelligence, Can Computers Create Art? in 2009. He is also an academic, and is currently Pathway Director of the MA, Interactive Journalism at City, University of London.

Previously, he was course leader for the BA in Web Media Production at Ravensbourne University. He has a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought from the European Graduate School in Switzerland, a Master's in Media Arts from the New School in New York, USA, and a Bachelor's in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Morris can be found on Twitter at @Cyberwest, or emailed at