To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Chillblast Helix 17 Ultra Slim review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1250
inc VAT

Impressively thin and remarkably powerful, the Chillblast Helix is exceptionally well built, if a trifle bland

At just over 21mm thick, the Chillblast Helix 17 Ultra Slim is thin for a gaming laptop, even though its 17in chassis contains some high-specification components that require some serious cooling. The build of the chassis is hard to fault. It’s made of metal and is cool to the touch, but it’s well-machined, so there are no sharp edges to cut into our wrists when typing and gaming. Our only criticism is that its design is very plain; the lid is completely black with no embellishments or highlights. The Helix is also heavy, being 2.7kg.

We’re happy with the keyboard, though. It has well-spaced Chiclet-style keys that are responsive, tactile and made of a material with some resistance that makes typing a very pleasant activity. The Return key is only half the size you’d expect, sharing its usual position with the hash and tilde key. This is a shame, and a little bizarre considering the amount of space on the chassis. Sadly, the touchpad has a little too much friction for our tastes.

The chassis has plenty of connection ports, including two DisplayPort connectors, four USB3 ports, an HDMI output and three 3.5mm audio jacks for a pair of headphones, a microphone and a line-level audio output. There’s also a multi-format card reader. The built-in Intel Wi-Fi chip is a dual-band 802.11ac unit, which means it’s compatible with the latest Wi-Fi standard, and can benefit from faster and more reliable wireless connectivity when used with a compatible router.

The supplied internal storage is a comfortable mix of speed and space, with a 120GB Samsung mSATA SSD paired with a 1TB Seagate hybrid hard disk. There’s room for a second mSATA SSD, which can be paired with the first in RAID 0.

Despite being fashionably thin, the Helix’s quad-core, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor appears to have plenty of room to breathe, performing very well in our multimedia benchmarking tests. The Helix managed an overall score of 96, which is just four points off our reference Core i5 desktop machine. It didn’t manage this excellent result without a fight, though, as it whirred its way through the tests with considerable fan noise. It’s no jet engine, and it’s certainly no Aorus X7 (see Reviews, Shopper 320), but the fan makes its presence known. When idling or conducting non-processor-intensive tasks, the machine is impressively quiet, however.

The noise levels increase once again when gaming, with the powerful 3GB Nvdia GeForce GTX 870M providing the graphical muscle required to run the latest games at the screen’s native Full-HD resolution. The Helix did very well in our gaming benchmarking tests, blitzing through Dirt Showdown at a resolution of 1,920×1,080 with Ultra graphics quality, producing an average frame rate of 51.6fps. The Helix even produced a playable average frame rate in our Full HD Crysis 3 benchmark, too, managing a 38fps average frame rate with graphics quality set to High. This laptop should be able to play the latest games at a resolution of 1,920×1,080 for years to come.

The Helix has a good screen, too. It uses TN technology, which has provides fast response times that are ideal for gamers. The screen’s colour accuracy was also very good for a laptop, and our calibrator reported sRGB colour coverage of 83.6 per cent, allowing it to produce bright and relatively accurate colours. However, the screen coating detracts from the image, with a grainy, messy veneer that’s noticeable over bright colours. It’s not a complete disaster, and it isn’t distracting when playing games, but it’s certainly noticeable when viewing still images and browsing the web. Viewing angles are fairly wide for a laptop, so it’s easy to find a position where you’re getting the screen’s optimum performance. 

Battery life is acceptable at just under four hours, but we’d still recommend keeping the charger handy if you take it travelling.

The Chillblast Helix is an impressive laptop. It’s not beautiful, and its 17-inch form factor also makes it seem significantly less svelte than it should. Nevertheless, we wish more laptops were built this well, and the Helix’s good CPU and great GPU make it an excellent gaming machine.

However, if £1,250 is over your budget and you’re willing to sacrifice a little performance and polish, there are plenty of sub-£1,000 gaming laptops you could buy as an alternative, such as the Chillblast Defiant 2 Mini and the Scan 3XS Graphite LG156, both of which are award-winning gaming laptops.

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ
Memory slots (free)2 (0)
Max memory8GB
SoundRealtek HD Audio (3.5mm headphone, microphone and headset ports)
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Screen size17.3in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Graphics adaptorNvidia GeForce GTX 870M
Graphics outputs2x Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
Graphics memory3GB
Total storage120GB SSD, 1TB hard disk
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports4x USB3
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerSD, SDHC, MMC
Other portsNone
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyTwo years collect and return (three more years RTB)
Price inc VAT£1,250
Part numberHelix 17″ Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop

Read more