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Palicomp Core i3 Blast 5300C41-22 review

Tom Morgan
28 Dec 2010
Palicomp Core i3 Blast 5300C41-22
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
549
inc VAT

Seriously fast application performance, a host of expansion ports and a svelte, LED-backlit Full HD monitor. Only a lack of 3D speed holds it back.

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Specifications

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

The specification of the Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22 hasn’t changed from when we last saw it two months ago, when it won a Budget Buy award. Palicomp equips the PC with an Intel Core i3 530, but overclocks it from its stock speed of 2.9GHz to a whopping 4.1GHz – making it incredibly fast for a budget PC. In our benchmarks, it produced 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.

It's a little disappointing to find a Radeon HD 5450 graphics card installed, though. It handles full HD video much better than the Core i3’s integrated graphics chip, but still struggles with games, managing just 7.6fps in our Call of Duty 4 test. If you want to play games, you’ll need to upgrade this graphics card. Fortunately, adding this graphics card hasn’t forced Palicomp to scrimp and save elsewhere, and the rest of the system is fantastic.

Palicomp Core i3 Blast 5300C41-22

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. 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 and makes it easy to transfer photos from your digital camera.

Inside the case, there are two free PCI slots, two free PCI-E x1 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-E x16 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 usually mean this isn’t worth it. There are plenty of drive bays free, each with quick-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 memory.

Palicomp hasn’t spent much on the keyboard and mouse – 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 computer.

Although the Core i3 Blast has a slightly pointless graphics card, it doesn’t come at the expense of any essential features. In fact, apart from gaming prowess, it's great value thanks to the excellent display and huge array of expansion ports. However, the CyberPower Infinity i3 Apollo Elite has similar performance and a much faster graphics card.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus185MHz (3.3GHz DMI)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.1GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
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

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (2)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)2 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports5
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity1,000GB

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

Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD, CF, microSD
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelLG Flatron E2240T-PN
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

KeyboardOctigen Slim Keyboard
MouseOctigen Ball Mouse

Software

Software includedNero 9, OpenOffice
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc

Buying Information

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

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