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Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22 review

Barry de la Rosa
28 Sep 2010
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
549
inc VAT

An insanely fast processor, a host of expansion ports and a svelte, LED-backlit Full HD monitor make this one of the best value PCs available.

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Specifications

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

Palicomp has once again sent us a PC with a massively overclocked Intel Core i3-530 processor - up from its stock speed of 2.9GHz to a whopping 4.1GHz, making it one of the fastest budget PCs we've seen. You also get a 22in, Full HD, LED-backlit monitor that impressed us with its natural colours and sharp contrast.

In our benchmarks, the Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22 blew away the competition, scoring an impressive 175 in the single-threaded image-editing test and 144 overall. Its fast score of 151 in the Video Encoding test, shows that this PC will cope with even the toughest of tasks easily.

We were a little disappointed to find a dedicated ATI Radeon HD 5450 graphics card also installed. This card is twice as powerful as the Core i3's integrated graphics chip, but still struggles with games, managing just 7.6fps in our Call of Duty 4 test. Considering that the Core i3's graphics chip can handle HD video, the 5450 seems like a bit of a pointless addition to us.

Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22

If you do decide that you want to play games, you'll need to upgrade this graphics card, which means throwing away the old model. Fortunately, adding this graphics card hasn't meant that Palicomp has had to scrimp and save elsewhere, and the rest of the system is fantastic.

There's plenty of room for expansion inside and out. As well as a generous 1TB hard disk, the Core i3 Blast has a grand total of 12 USB ports, plus a single USB3 port and an eSATA port on the rear, both of which support faster external drives than USB 2.0. Audio buffs can choose between a full set of 7.1 analogue outputs and optical or coaxial S/PDIF outputs. There's even a memory card reader on the front panel that can read modern formats, including microSD and SDHC. It's a nice addition to have and makes reading photos from a digital camera really easy without having to waste your camera's battery.

Inside the case, there are two free PCI slots, two free PCI-Ex1 slots (one of which is very close to the processor's heatsink, so you may not be able to use it) and a free PCI-Ex16 slot. The motherboard supports AMD's CrossFire technology, so you can fit two graphics cards, although the expense and small performance gain over a single card probably mean this isn't worth it. There are plenty of drive bays free, each with easy-release brackets for fast fitting, plus four free SATA headers. Two spare RAM slots mean you can upgrade to 8GB from 4GB without having to sacrifice the existing DIMMs.

Palicomp hasn't wasted any money on the keyboard and mouse set - the mouse has a ball and the keyboard is simply awful - but it has invested heavily in the monitor: a super-thin LG model with LED backlighting and a Full HD resolution. Despite a slightly uneven backlight, colours were natural and contrast superb, and it's a brilliant display to get with a budget computer.

Although the Core i3 Blast comes with a graphics card that's ultimately a bit pointless, you don't miss out on any essential features. In fact, the opposite is true and this PC is stuffed full of goodies. The incredible performance of its overclocked processor, the great image quality of its monitor and its huge array of expansion ports, make it excellent value and a worthy winner of our Budget Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus185MHz (4.1GHz QPI)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.1GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Level 1 cache2x 64KB
Level 2 cache2x 256KB
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardASRock P55 Pro/USB3
Motherboard chipsetIntel P55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)3/9
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone
Other ports1x USB 3.0

Internal Expansion

Casetower
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 bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity1,000GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)ATI Radeon HD 5450
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 cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD, CF, microSD
Optical drive modelOpticarc AD-7241S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelLG Flatron E2240-PN
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Response time5ms
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardOctigen Slim Keyboard
MouseOctigen Ball Mouse

Software

Software includedNero 9, Open Office
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£549
Detailswww.palicomp.co.uk

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