Custom PC

Wired2Fire Phoenix Intel - Powered by MSI Review

By Mike Jennings. Posted

Wired2Fire’s new Phoenix system costs just £1,099 inc VAT, but the Surrey-based builder has found room for an overclocked RTX 3060 in its budget, which is impressive considering the state of the graphics market. The MSI-made graphics card in this rig pairs its usual 12GB of GDDR6 memory and 3,584 stream processors, and raises the boost clock from 1777MHz to 1807MHz.

The rest of the specification is reasonable. The 16GB of DDR4 memory rattles along at a decent 3600MHz, and the 1TB Lexar NM610 SSD offers a solid amount of storage space for games, even if its read and write speeds of 2,174MB/sec and 1,725MB/sec are decidedly mid-range.

Meanwhile, the Core i5-12400F is a new budget-friendly CPU from Intel’s Alder Lake range, which means unimpressive base and boost clocks of 2.5GHz and 4.4GHz, but you do get its updated architecture and six Hyper-Threaded cores for a very reasonable price. It’s all powered by a 550W MSI PSU with an 80 Plus Bronze rating.

These solid core components compare well with the rival Chillblast Fusion Sentinel (reviewed in Issue 224). That rig is £50 cheaper than the Wired2Fire, and both use the same CPU, but the Chillblast has slower memory, a smaller SSD and a weaker RTX 3050 GPU.

The Wired2Fire’s MSI MAG B660M Mortar motherboard also impresses, with 2.5Gbps Ethernet and dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi. It also has two spare memory slots, a pair of M.2 connectors that support PCI-E 4 and a super-fast USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port at the rear. For everyday scenarios, it’s a fine board, but this is one area where the Wired2Fire doesn’t compare particularly well with the Chillblast, which has a full-sized ATX motherboard with more expansion room.

The Phoenix packs an Alder Lake CPU and GeForce RTX 3060 GPU into a machine that costs £1,099 inc VAT

Wired2Fire’s hardware sits inside an MSI Vampiric 100R chassis. The meshed front panel and RGB LEDs mean this case looks the part, and it measures just 457mm tall and 390mm deep, so it’s smaller than the NZXT chassis deployed by Chillblast. In several areas, though, this case can’t compete with that NZXT H510 Flow enclosure.

The MSI chassis isn’t as sturdy, with a noticeably weak rear side panel, and it doesn’t have as much space on the inside – there’s only 300mm of graphics card clearance and it maxes out at support for 240mm radiators, with the NZXT case going further in both metrics. It also has less space for storage around the rear, the cables aren’t quite as neat and it doesn’t have a front-facing USB-C port. They’re not terminal issues, especially if you don’t want to upgrade or move the PC frequently, but the Chillblast system has more finesse and versatility.

Both PCs also have good warranties. The Phoenix has an impressive five years of labour coverage alongside two years of parts protection and collect and return service. That’s one of the best deals around, but Chillblast also offers five years of labour coverage alongside three years of on-site service and parts protection.

Performance

The overclocked RTX 3060 is an impressive 1080p gaming GPU. Its 99th percentile minimum of 52fps was bolstered by an average beyond 60fps in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and it nearly hit that mark in Cyberpunk 2077 too. Activating Medium ray tracing and DLSS in the latter game saw its 99th percentile result improve by 4fps, and the RTX 3060 remained playable in Metro Exodus at 1080p.

These scores easily outpace the RTX 3050 inside the cheaper Chillblast, making gameplay smooth at high settings, rather than borderline playable. The RTX 3060 may handily beat the RTX 3050, but the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT is a more robust rival. That card is quicker in most non-ray-traced game tests, and you can realistically only enable ray tracing with DLSS at 1080p on the RTX 3060, which doesn’t look great. We’ve designed a £949 PC with the RX 6600 XT (see p76 ) , and this GPU is a very tempting alternative if you’re not fussed about ray tracing.

Meanwhile, the Wired2Fire’s fast memory enabled it to outpace the Chillblast in our image editing test, but the Chillblast fought back with a better multi-tasking score. Beyond this tit-for-tat squabbling, though, the i5-12400F’s comparative lack of clock speed puts it behind chips such as the Core i5-12600K and AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, but it’s also much cheaper. It’s still a decent CPU for the money, though, with the Wired2Fire being capable of handling mainstream gaming and content creation without breaking a sweat.

Wired2Fire’s machine is a good thermal performer too. Its clock speeds remained fine throughout our tests, and its CPU and GPU delta Ts of 31°C and 40°C are great. It’s consistently quiet too, although the Chillblast makes even less noise.

Conclusion

Wired2Fire’s extra £50 budget allows for a much more powerful gaming PC than the Chillblast, with a faster GPU, quicker memory and a larger SSD. For gaming, that’s great, but the Chillblast does also offer a better case, motherboard and warranty. Looking beyond this PC, we also recommend considering the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT for even faster gaming pace at this price level. If you want a ready-made PC with an Nvidia GPU and a decent warranty, though, the Wired2Fire is faster than its rival and has more storage space. It’s a solid gaming PC for the money.

Verdict

Decent 1080p gaming power, plenty of storage space and a quiet build for a reasonable price.

Price
£1,099 inc VAT

Scores
PERFORMANCE 20/25 | DESIGN 19/25 | HARDWARE 20/25 | VALUE 22/25 | OVERALL 81%

RISING FROM THE ASHES
+Rock-solid 1080p gaming speeds
+Compact, quiet build
+Fast memory
+1TB SSD

FALLING FROM THE SKY
-Limited motherboard
-Underwhelming case
-Chillblast has better warranty

SPEC
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-12400F
Motherboard MSI B660M Mortar WiFi DDR4
Memory 16GB ADATA XPG GAMMIX 3600MHz DDR4
Graphics MSI GeForce RTX 3060 12GB
Storage 1TB Lexar NM610 M.2 SSD
Networking 2.5Gbps Ethernet, dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2
Case MSI MAG Vampiric 100R
Cooling CPU: ARCTIC Freezer 34 with 1 x 120mm fan; GPU: 3 x 90mm fans; front: 1 x 120mm fan; rear: 1 x 120mm fan
Ports Front: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2 x USB 2, 2 x audio; rear: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audio
Operating system Windows 11 Home 64-bit
Warranty Two years parts and labour and collect and return, plus three years labour only return to base

BENCHMARK RESULTS

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