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PC Specialist Aurea 540 OC review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Oct 2010
PC Specialist Aurea 540 OC
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
750
inc VAT

By fitting a Core i3 processor, PC Specialist has managed to afford a decent graphics card, but the awful HKC monitor lets the system down.

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Specifications

3.8GHz Intel Core i3-540, 4GB RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

While most PCs at this price have an Intel Core i5 processor, PC Specialist has fitted the Aurea 540 with an overclocked Intel Core i3-530 chip. The cheaper CPU means that the company has more money left to spend on other components, while hitting the £750 price. In this case a good chunk of money has been spent on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460.

Scores of 73.3fps in Call of Duty 4 and 44.1fps in Crysis put this PC way ahead of other computer's we've reviewed at this price. It wasn't quite fast enough playing Crysis at the monitor's native 1,920x1,080 resolution with textures set to Very High, scoring 26fps, but at the High setting it managed 37fps with 4x AA. This shows that it's capable of running any modern 3D game with few compromises in image quality, and with Nvidia's CUDA technology, it will also speed up certain operations in GPU-accelerated programs, such as Photoshop.

Although the Aurea 540 OC's Core i3 can't match the Core i5-760 found in other £750 PCs, it's still far more powerful than most people would ever need. A score of 131 overall means it's 31 per cent faster than our reference PC, and a score of 164 in the single-threaded image-editing test means it will tear through single-threaded applications. It may slow down a bit in multi-threaded applications, but it's still more than capable.

PC Specialist Aurea 540 OC

Our advice is to buy the Aurea 540 OC without the atrocious HKC 2219A display. It's a 22in Full HD model, but it has a dark and uneven backlight which wrecks contrast, and poor colour accuracy that is impossible to remedy through the crude and simplistic menu system. Thankfully you save £121 by ordering the Aurea 540 OC without the monitor, which is enough to buy the BenQ G2222HDL (£120; see What's New, Shopper 267).

You should have plenty of room for files thanks to the 1TB hard disk that's fitted. The motherboard supports USB3, for super-fast external storage, should you fill the internal hard disk or need something for backups. Thee PC has one PCI and one PCI-Ex1 slot free. There are plenty of free drive bays however, and four free SATA headers.

Externally, you get two USB3 ports as well as FireWire and eSATA ports, so you can attach a wide range of external drives. Sound is handled by a set of 7.1 line out connections or an optical S/PDIF port, and you can also output both audio and video via HDMI. There are only seven standard USB ports, two of which are taken up by a budget Logitech keyboard and mouse set. The mouse is a simple two-button model with a scroll wheel, but the keyboard has multimedia shortcuts and a comfortable typing action.

If you're into gaming, the Aurea 540 OC is ideal as it puts the focus on the graphics card rather than the processor, but buy it without the awful HKC monitor. If you're not bothered about games, we recommend the Eclipse Solar i76r577, which comes has a faster Core i5 processor and a decent monitor.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-540
Processor external bus200MHz (3.6GHz DMI)
Processor multiplierx19
Processor clock speed3.8GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Level 1 cache2x 64KB
Level 2 cache2x 256KB
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardAsustek P7H55D-M EVO
Motherboard chipsetIntel H55 Express

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)3/4
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/1
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone
Other ports2x USB 3.0

Internal Expansion

Casetower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Hitachi DeskStar (HDS721010CLA332)
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity1,000GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

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

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick, CF, xD, microSD
Optical drive modelOptiarc AD-7260S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelHKC 2219A
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Response time5ms
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardLogitech Internet 350 Keyboard
MouseLogitech B110

Software

Software includedNero 9 Essentials, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£750
Detailswww.pcspecialist.co.uk

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