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PC Specialist Aurea i3-530X review

Barry de la Rosa
1 May 2010
PC Specialist Aurea i3-530X
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
549
inc VAT

The lack of a Full HD monitor makes this poor value compared to other PCs here, but we're more concerned by the lack of extra cooling for the overclocked CPU, coupled with the minimal warranty.

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Specifications

3.4GHz Intel Core i3-530, 2.000000 RAM, 22in 1,680x1,050 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

PC Specialist's Aurea i3-530X is based on a new Intel Core i3-530 processor, which means it has an integrated HD graphics chip, and as a result there's room on the motherboard for a dedicated graphics card, should you wish to upgrade. As it stands, it's not capable of playing games - even with settings turned right down, we couldn't get a playable frame rate in Call of Duty 4.

It can however play HD video content, although it's a shame the monitor won't be able to display it at its full 1,920x1,080 resolution. The supplied HannsG 22in monitor only supports 1,680x1,050, but at least it has a DVI input, and PC Specialist bundle a decent DVI cable in the box. We found its colours to be reasonably natural, although a slight red cast and average contrast meant images didn't look quite as punchy as we'd like.

While a free graphics card slot will please those who prefer to choose their own graphics card, those who aren't interested in gaming will appreciate the raw power that PC Specialist have achieved by overclocking the Core i3 chip from its stock speed of 2.93GHz to 3.4GHz. This resulted in a gain of 13 points overall in our benchmarks compared to a similarly specified PC, and makes it one of the fastest Core i3 PCs we've seen.

However, PC Specialist only offers a one year warranty, which may worry those who are concerned that the extra speed may come at the expense of reliability, especially as the company hasn't replaced the stock Intel CPU fan. Enthusiasts might be happy to upgrade the fan, but those looking for a PC that won't require much maintenance should be wary.

Elsewhere in the case, we found plenty of room for expansion. Two free hard disk bays should suffice for most people, and there are three free RAM slots. This is unusual, as DDR3 memory is dual channel and is normally found in pairs, but we tested the system with two 1GB modules and found no significant difference in performance. Your first upgrade should be to add one more 2GB module, however, especially if you plan on editing large images or video files.

On the outside, there are nine USB ports but no eSATA or FireWire ports. A memory card reader is useful for those with a digital camera. As well as 5.1 surround sound outputs, the HDMI port can output digital audio to an AV amplifier. The wireless Logitech keyboard and mouse set only use one USB port, and are of a good quality: the keyboard has a light action, and the mouse has a large wheel that can be pushed side-to-side for horizontal scrolling.

The inclusion of a new Core i3 processor, leaving a spare PCI-E x16 slot for a future graphics upgrade, is a sensible design. However, overclocking the processor without upgrading the stock CPU fan is a bit worrying, especially as PC Specialist don't offer a longer warranty, and the lack of a Full HD monitor lets the Aurea down. Mesh's Ice3 530CS also has a Core i3-530 and a free graphics card slot but comes with a Full HD monitor, while CyberPower's Ultra Triton XT has a Full HD monitor and comes ready to play games.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus150MHz (3.3GHz QuickPath Interconnect)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed3.4GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Level 1 cache2x 64KB
Level 2 cache2x 256KB
Memory2.000000
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardIntel DH55TC
Motherboard chipsetIntel H55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)3/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone
Other portsnone

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (2)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots3
Free 3.5in drive bays2

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Intel GMA HD
Graphics/video portsHDMI, DVI, VGA

Sound

SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputs5.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, CompactFlash, MicroDrive, SmartMedia
Optical drive modelTSSTcorp SH-S223C
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelHannsG Hi221
Native resolution1,680x1,050
Response time5ms
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardLogitech Deluxe 660 Cordless
MouseLogitech Cordless Optical Mouse RX 650

Software

Software includedNero Burning ROM 9
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£549
Detailswww.pcspecialist.co.uk

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