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Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus review

Barry de la Rosa
15 Aug 2010
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
599
inc VAT

Astonishingly fast, the Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus has a decent graphics card and lots of room for expansion. Buy the base unit without the dismal monitor, though.

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Specifications

4.1GHz Intel Core i3-530, 4GB RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Budget PCs tend to have AMD processors at the moment, but Intel's new Core i3 530 is proving to be very good value. Palicomp has gone one step further and overclocked its 530 to a blistering 4.1GHz from its stock speed of 2.93GHz, resulting in a score of 144 overall in our benchmarks. On top of that, the Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus includes a Full HD monitor and a powerful graphics card, making it a decent all-rounder.

The AOC F22+ monitor has an unusual design where the normal stand is replaced with a long bar to support the screen and an extensible foot that protrudes from the rear of the case. To tilt the screen, you have to unscrew the foot to the desired length, which is a bit of a hassle. While there's not HDMI input, there's a DVI interface which supports HDCP, and Palicomp bundles a DVI cable in the box.

However this can't improve the rather dismal image quality. The backlight is dim and uneven and - coupled with the matt finish - it results in flat-looking colours. You can mitigate this slightly by adjusting the colour temperature setting to reduce the amount of blue, which adds a bit of warmth, but you'd be better off ordering the PC without the monitor and putting the savings towards a better monitor, such as BenQ's G2222HDL.

Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus

Driving the monitor is a Radeon HD 5670 graphics card. It's not as fast as our favourite budget card, the 5770, but it managed 42.5fps in our Call of Duty 4 test and 22.6fps in Crysis. You might have to turn off some settings, such as anti-aliasing, to get the latest games to run smoothly, but older or non-action games, such as strategy or role-playing games, should run with no problems. It'll also give a decent boost to GPU-accelerated applications, such as the latest version of Photoshop.

Inside the case, you'll find neatly bundled cables and plenty of room for expansion. There's room for more drives, extra RAM and even a spare PCI-E x16 slot for a second graphics card - this means that, rather than upgrade the 5670 and make it redundant, you could simply buy another and connect them using ATI's CrossFire technology. It's the same story on the outside, where you'll find no fewer than 14 USB ports, plus FireWire, eSATA, and both types of S/PDIF port. If there's anything to criticise, it's the lack of support for USB3.

You could buy the Core i3 Blast 530OC-22Plus without the monitor for £524, which is a great price considering the performance on offer. Of course, it means you'll have to spend a bit more than £600 in total to add a decent monitor. However the amazingly fast processor, plus a decent graphics card with room for expansion, makes this PC great value, and it wins a Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus185MHz
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.1GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Level 1 cache2x 64KB
Level 2 cache2x 256KB
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardASRock P55 PRO
Motherboard chipsetIntel P55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/12
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/1
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/2
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)2 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays4

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Western Digital Caviar Black (WD5001AALS)
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)ATI Radeon HD 5670
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtek HD Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, coaxial S/PDIF out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive modelOptiarc AD-7241S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelAOC F22+
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Response time5ms
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardMillennium Systems CMS-710
MouseMillennium Systems CMS-710

Software

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

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£599
Detailswww.palicomp.co.uk

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