Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC44 review

Price when reviewed

Intel’s Core i3 processor has single-handedly raised expectations for budget PC performance to a level unrecognisable just a year ago. Having become the go-to chip for manufacturers, we’re seeing more and more effort being put into overclocking as a way of adding value, culminating in this: the £425 exc VAT Palicomp’s Core i3 Blast 530OC44, a PC that grabs that level, straps a rocket to it and fires it into the stratosphere.

Out of the box the Core i3-530 runs at a respectable 2.93GHz, but Palicomp has overclocked it to a mighty 4.4GHz. To do so, the stock Intel cooler just wouldn’t do; instead Palicomp has used a Thermaltake ISGC-400 cooler and replaced the fan with a PWM-equipped model. This change helps keeps the CPU cool – it peaked at a safe 79 degrees C – and also helps keep the system down to a quiet hum.

But most importantly, it makes the Palicomp insanely fast. It effortlessly outclassed the A-Listed PC Specialist Aurea i3-530 Pro, which scored 1.66 with the same CPU at standard clock speeds, and went far enough to threaten far dearer PCs. An overall benchmark score of 2.56 isn’t quite the fastest we’ve seen, but it’s higher than anything else currently on the A List – even narrowly beating the £1,260 Chillblast Fusion Photo OC III, the fastest PC currently in the Enthusiast PC category.

Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC44

That score on a £425 PC is almost enough to open wallets on its own, but with a fair chunk of that budget swallowed up by the processor, cutbacks elsewhere are understandable. The Radeon HD 5450, for instance, is the weakest card in ATI’s current range, and not really intended for gaming at all. It managed only 27fps in our Low-quality, 1,366 x 768 Crysis benchmark, but throw a 1080p video at it and it will cope just fine. It’s also passively cooled which, when added to the custom CPU cooler, makes the Palicomp nice and quiet, particularly when compared to most high-powered PCs.

It all sits inside a Cooler Master Elite 330 chassis, which isn’t particularly exciting or complex, but Palicomp has made the best of it. For starters, it’s tidy: the PSU isn’t modular and there’s no separate motherboard tray, but cables are tucked neatly away behind the optical drive cages and only emerge when they’re needed. Palicomp has taken care to tie various wires down, with SATA cables lashed to the side of the unpainted interior and the front panel connectors secured to the bottom.

There’s plenty of room to grow, too. The ASRock P55 Pro/USB 3 motherboard provides a second PCI-Express x16 slot running at x4 speed alongside pairs of PCI Express x1 and PCI slots, and both spare DIMM sockets are easily accessible despite the large Thermaltake CPU cooler. Five SATA/300 sockets lie free, with one perpendicular to the board, and the handful of empty hard disk and optical drive bays offer tool-less entry. The backplate is good, too, with a single USB 3 port, seven more USB 2 ports, eSATA and a pair of PS/2 sockets.

Elsewhere, the specification is decent enough: 4GB of DDR3 RAM is more than enough to keep Windows 7 Home Premium ticking over, and the 1TB hard disk is large enough to cope with sizeable media collections. A DVD writer is included, too.

It’s quiet, tidy and versatile, then, but the real feather in the Palicomp’s cap is its combination of price and performance. Although it won’t have you gaming, the Core i3 Blast 530OC44 delivers the kind of raw application power that can’t be matched by systems costing three times as much. It goes straight onto the A List, and it will be hard to topple.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity1,000
RAM capacity4.00GB
Screen sizeN/A


CPU familyIntel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency2.93GHz
CPU overclocked frequency4.40GHz
Processor socketLGA 1156
HSF (heatsink-fan)ThermaltakeISGC-400


MotherboardASRock P55 Pro/USB3
Motherboard chipsetIntel P55
Conventional PCI slots free2
Conventional PCI slots total2
PCI-E x16 slots free1
PCI-E x16 slots total2
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free2
PCI-E x1 slots total2
Internal SATA connectors6
Internal SAS connectors1
Internal PATA connectors1
Internal floppy connectors1
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free2
Memory sockets total4

Graphics card

Graphics cardATI Radeon HD 5450
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetATI Radeon HD 5450
Graphics card RAM512MB
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
DisplayPort outputs0
Number of graphics cards1

Hard disk

Hard diskSamsung SpinPoint F1
Hard disk usable capacity931GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Cache size32MB
Hard disk 2 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 cache sizeN/A
Hard disk 3 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A


Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A


Monitor make and modelN/A
Resolution screen horizontalN/A
Resolution screen verticalN/A
ResolutionN/A x N/A
Pixel response timeN/A
Contrast ratioN/A
Screen brightnessN/A
DVI inputsN/A
HDMI inputsN/A
VGA inputsN/A
DisplayPort inputsN/A

Additional Peripherals

Speaker typeN/A
Sound cardN/A


ChassisCooler Master Elite 330
Case formatFull tower
Dimensions189 x 485 x 425mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays3

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)10
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
3.5mm audio jacks6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports3
Front panel memory card readeryes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardN/A

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption74W
Peak power consumption105W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score2.56
Office application benchmark score2.35
2D graphics application benchmark score2.59
Encoding application benchmark score2.26
Multitasking application benchmark score3.06
3D performance (crysis) low settings27fps
3D performance settingLow

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