PC Specialist Aurea i3-530 Pro review

£449
Price when reviewed

It’s frugal with power, too. The processor, with its 73W TDP and integrated graphics, contributed to an idle power draw of just 52W – only 20W more than we’d expect from the average Atom-powered nettop – and even the peak power draw of 82W is less than we see most PCs consuming when idle. It highlights just how power-hungry modern graphics cards can be.

The chassis may be a budget model, but it’s not the ugliest case we’ve seen. The glossy black exterior looks smart and, even though it collects fingerprints, it won’t shame your desk. The selection of ports is generous, too, and includes nine USB sockets, an HDMI output and a media card reader.

Inside, the Aurea is serviceable but, as expected, pretty bare. Upgrade potential is mixed, with the motherboard offering spare PCI Express x16 and DIMM slots, but the case itself only has a single vacant hard disk bay and two empty 5.25in bays. Still, it’s enough headroom to upgrade it into a gaming system should the need arise later down the line.

PC Specialist Aurea i3-530 Pro

PC Specialist has done a basic job of cable tidying, too. Leads emerge from the 350W power supply and snake all over the chassis but, with no separate motherboard tray or other finery inside, they’re difficult to hide: some are lashed together with the occasional cable-tie but, for the most part, they’re left to fend for themselves.

It’s also not a particularly quiet system, even without a graphics card and with only one case fan. Intel’s stock cooler is used to keep the processor chilled and hums accordingly, but the worst offender is the cheap 350W PSU, which emits a constant high-pitched whirr.

But it’s a budget PC with impressive power, so when you look at that £382 exc VAT price tag it’s not difficult to put aside the few issues it has. It’s the kind of price that until recently we’d have associated with low-power Pentium and even Atom PCs, but the Core i3 really shakes that up. At a good four times faster than most nettops, we can’t wait for someone to build a Core i3 system in a small-form factor chassis.

While we wait for that, we’re perfectly happy to recommend the PC Specialist Aurea i3-530. It’s cheap yet powerful, with a solid specification and an adequate chassis. On this evidence the Core i3 processor is the new benchmark for budget performance, and this PC takes full advantage.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 500
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Screen size N/A

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency 2.93GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 1156
HSF (heatsink-fan) Intel low profile cooler

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P7H55-M Pro
Motherboard chipset Intel P55
Conventional PCI slots free 2
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 6
Internal SAS connectors 1
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 3
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel X4500
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM 256MB
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 0

Hard disk

Hard disk Maxtor DiamondMaxSTM3599418AS
Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 465GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 16MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive LiteOn iHAS/124
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model N/A
Resolution screen horizontal N/A
Resolution screen vertical N/A
Resolution N/A x N/A
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs N/A
HDMI inputs N/A
VGA inputs N/A
DisplayPort inputs N/A

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Realtek HD Audio
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis PC Specialist proprietary
Case format Midi tower
Dimensions 190 x 474 x 423mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply FSP 350-PNR
Power supply rating 350W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 9
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 3
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard N/A

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 52W
Peak power consumption 82W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.66
Office application benchmark score 1.42
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.73
Encoding application benchmark score 1.58
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.91
3D performance (crysis) low settings 21fps
3D performance setting Low

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