Witness the Palicomp Core i3 Blast, a desktop PC that comes armed with little more than an Intel Core i3-530 CPU. But Palicomp has bolted on a ThermalTake cooler that allows that chip's clock to be bumped from 2.93GHz to a sizzling 4.4GHz.

The transformation is quite dramatic, and the Palicomp Core i3 Blast PC stormed to a staggering 152 points in our WorldBench 6 benchmarking suite. For a chassis that costs £500, this sort of speed is amazing, allowing it to outpace many systems carrying an Intel i7.

There's one blot that could bring the Palicomp Core i3 Blast crashing back to earth, namely, the graphics card. In trying to keep the budget down, the Blast has to make do with a meagre HD 5450 graphics card.

One of the least impressive discrete cards you can buy from the current ranges of ATI and nVidia, the 5450 most certainly wouldn't be the choice of gamers. It stumbled through our games tests, struggling to get above 40fps in even the relatively undemanding FEAR. In Crysis it lurched to just 10.3fps when tested on 'High' settings at a resolution of 1024x768. Bumped up to a resolution of 1680x1050, it dropped to an unusable 4.6fps.

We can understand Palicomp's wanting to hit the magic £500 point. However, for less than £100 extra the company could have opted for a Geforce GTX 460 instead, a fiercely competitively priced card that would have made the Palicomp Core i3 Blast a top contender as a low-priced gaming machine. Of course, there's nothing to stop you asking about upgrading the graphics.

For non-gamers the Palicomp Core i3 Blast is a fast PC for the money. For video, internet surfing and general Windows use, its figures are top of the class. Graphics card aside, many of the other components are extremely desirable. The 4GB of Corsair RAM is decent, while the 1TB Western Digital hard drive is a fast and capacious unit that should meet all of your storage needs. A Sony DVD writer can burn discs up to 24-speed, while its dual-layer support goes to 12-speed.

The Palicomp Core i3 Blast is beautifully arranged underneath the lid as well. The ISGC-400 cooler doesn't take up too much room in the spacious Coolermaster Elite 330 case, and there's acres of room into which to dip in and exchange components.

Two of the memory slots are free, and the seven spare drive bays (three of those 5.25in) are well sited for access, as are the free PCI slots. Eleven USB ports are included, one of those USB 3.0. Three of the slots are located on the front of the PC, along with a neat memory-card drive and conveniently placed audio connectors.

An eSATA port is situated at the back, and VGA, DVI and HDMI connectors are all included. The 64-bit version of Windows Home 7 Premium is included. The Palicomp Core i3 Blast's 1-year RTB warranty is a touch skimpy.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

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Palicomp Core i3 Blast 530OC44: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530 (overclocked to 4.4GHz)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • ASRock P55Pro/USB3 motherboard
  • 4GB PC3-12800 (1600MHz) DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Thermaltake 550W PSU
  • Coolermaster Elite 330 case
  • ThermalTake ISGC-400 CPU cooler
  • 512MB PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 5450
  • DVI/RGB/HDMI
  • 11x USB (1x USB 3.0)
  • 1x eSATA
  • Sony Optiarc AD-7241S 24x DVD±RW DL drive
  • SD card slot
  • 1-year RTB warranty
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530 (overclocked to 4.4GHz)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • ASRock P55Pro/USB3 motherboard
  • 4GB PC3-12800 (1600MHz) DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • Thermaltake 550W PSU
  • Coolermaster Elite 330 case
  • ThermalTake ISGC-400 CPU cooler
  • 512MB PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 5450
  • DVI/RGB/HDMI
  • 11x USB (1x USB 3.0)
  • 1x eSATA
  • Sony Optiarc AD-7241S 24x DVD±RW DL drive
  • SD card slot
  • 1-year RTB warranty

OUR VERDICT

If you're looking for a strong gaming PC then the Palicomp Core i3 Blast is one graphics card away from being a winner at the price. For the rest of us, it's a fast system that offers a slew of quality components and specifications. Its all-round Windows performance is outstanding for the price.

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