PC Specialist Aurea i3-530 Pro review

Price when reviewed

Intel’s recent processor refresh may have started at the top with the super-fast Core i7 range, but it’s the budget end of the scale that’s arguably more exciting. The Core i3-530 is the cheapest of Intel’s 32nm parts, yet it offers a level of power beyond anything managed by the budget Core 2 Duos of the past.

PC Specialist’s Aurea i3-530 Pro is the first system we’ve seen to include one. The new chip is based on the Clarkdale core – which is also used in Intel’s low-end Core i5 chips – and fits into the new mainstream LGA 1156 socket.

It may be far cheaper than Core i7 parts, but the Core i3-530 still includes advanced features. Its two cores run at 2.93GHz and are visible as four thanks to the inclusion of Hyper-Threading. Interestingly, it also features an integrated GPU on a separate 45nm die that allows you to buy a motherboard without any integrated graphics of its own.

PC Specialist Aurea i3-530 Pro

It proved itself to be an able performer, cantering to a score of 1.66 in our 2D application benchmarks. That the bottom-end part can score so highly really shows the power in Intel’s new range. It’s more than fast enough to handle intensive applications and, crucially, it’s far quicker than other systems we’ve seen at this budget: the Advent Firefly FP9004 has a Pentium Dual-Core E5300 processor and scored just 1.11 in the same tests.

The on-chip graphics are fine for media decoding, handling both 720p and 1080p H.264 clips smoothly, but less impressive for gamers. The chip averaged just 21fps in our Low quality 1,024 x 768 Crysis benchmark, so you’ll be lowering the settings to play most current titles.

The rest of the Aurea specification is relatively prudent. We’d like a little more than 2GB of RAM, but it keeps Windows 7 Home Premium ticking over nicely. The 500GB hard disk and DVD writer keep that trend going – once again, we’d like a little more but for this price it’s not bad at all.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500
RAM capacity2.00GB
Screen sizeN/A


CPU familyIntel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency2.93GHz
CPU overclocked frequencyN/A
Processor socketLGA 1156
HSF (heatsink-fan)Intel low profile cooler


MotherboardAsus P7H55-M Pro
Motherboard chipsetIntel P55
Conventional PCI slots free2
Conventional PCI slots total2
PCI-E x16 slots free1
PCI-E x16 slots total1
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free1
PCI-E x1 slots total1
Internal SATA connectors6
Internal SAS connectors1
Internal PATA connectors1
Internal floppy connectors1
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free3
Memory sockets total4

Graphics card

Graphics cardIntel X4500
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetIntel 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM256MB
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
DisplayPort outputs0
Number of graphics cards0

Hard disk

Hard diskMaxtor DiamondMaxSTM3599418AS
Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Cache size16MB
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 driveLiteOn iHAS/124
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 cardRealtek HD Audio


ChassisPC Specialist proprietary
Case formatMidi tower
Dimensions190 x 474 x 423mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supplyFSP 350-PNR
Power supply rating350W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)9
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
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 consumption52W
Peak power consumption82W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.66
Office application benchmark score1.42
2D graphics application benchmark score1.73
Encoding application benchmark score1.58
Multitasking application benchmark score1.91
3D performance (crysis) low settings21fps
3D performance settingLow

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