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

PC Specialist Aurea 540 OC review

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.


3.8GHz Intel Core i3-540, 4GB RAM, 22in 1,920×1,080 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 1,920×1,080 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 ****
Processor Intel Core i3-540
Processor external bus 200MHz (3.6GHz DMI)
Processor multiplier x19
Processor clock speed 3.8GHz
Processor socket LGA1156
Level 1 cache 2x 64KB
Level 2 cache 2x 256KB
Memory 4
Memory type DDR3
Maximum memory 16GB
Motherboard Asustek P7H55D-M EVO
Motherboard chipset Intel H55 Express


USB2 ports (front/rear) 3/4
Firewire ports (front/rear) 0/1
eSATA ports (front/rear) 0/1
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support none
Other ports 2x USB 3.0

Internal Expansion

Case tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free) 2 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free) 1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports 4
Free memory slots 2
Free 3.5in drive bays 5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s) Hitachi DeskStar (HDS721010CLA332)
Interface SATA II
Total storage capacity 1,000GB
Spindle speed 7,200rpm


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


Sound Realtek HD Audio
Sound outputs 7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakers none

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy drive no
Supported memory cards SD, MMC, Memory Stick, CF, xD, microSD
Optical drive model Optiarc AD-7260S
Optical drive type(s) DVD+/-RW +/-DL


Viewable size 22 in
Screen model HKC 2219A
Native resolution 1,920×1,080
Response time 5ms
Screen inputs VGA, DVI

Other Hardware

Modem No
Keyboard Logitech Internet 350 Keyboard
Mouse Logitech B110


Software included Nero 9 Essentials, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option Windows disc

Buying Information

Warranty one year collect and return
Price £750

Read more