Palicomp’s Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus is very similar in its specification to the Chillblast. The Palicomp edges fractionally ahead in Worldbench 6, but misses out on a couple of future-proofing features.

Palicomp’s Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus is very similar in its specification to the Chillblast. Both offer 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a speaker set, a full-HD display and a fast Radeon HD 5770 graphics card. They’re also both powered by Intel’s quad-core Core i5 750. The Palicomp edges fractionally ahead in Worldbench 6 to achieve a creditable score of 131, but misses out on a couple of future-proofing features, including USB 3.0.

Quad-core PCs such as the Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus don’t tend to shine in our speed tests, which don’t include many applications that exploit multiple cores. Here, it’s the clock speed that is crucial, and it’s no surprise that the 2.66GHz 750 lags behind the 3GHz-plus dual-core chips. But if you run several apps simultaneously or use intensive programs such as Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, you’ll gain a real boost from going quad-core.

The Radeon HD 5770 graphics card is supplied with two other machines in this round-up, but the Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus turns in the best performance in every test. It’s sure to be a hit with gamers.

The Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus bucks the trend by supplying a terabyte (1TB) hard drive, which is twice the capacity supplied with any other PC in the chart, as well as the largest monitor. Its 24in AOC displays full-HD content that’s easier to read than on the smaller screens.

Budget desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Stronghold
  2. Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus
  3. Arbico i5 6607 Pro
  4. Eclipse Galaxy i567r557
  5. CyberPower Ultra Triton XT

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Palicomp’s Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus is very similar in its specification to the Chillblast. The Palicomp edges fractionally ahead in Worldbench 6, but misses out on a couple of future-proofing features.

Budget desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s latest naming scheme is confusing: if you want a quad-core PC, look for a Core i5 700-series CPU; the newer Core i5 600 series are dual-core.

Quad-core chips offer greater multi-processing capabilities, but the higher clock speeds of dual-core chips mean they can run single-threaded applications faster. Non-gamers should also note that their integrated graphics chips will allow them to play back full-HD video without a discrete graphics card installed.

The dual-core Core i3 540 provides great performance and is compatible with the most up-to-date motherboards and DDR3 memory, but it lacks the integrated graphics and performance boosting features of the Core i5. AMD’s Phenom II X4 920, 940 and 965 also offer good value for money and quad-core performance, although they can’t match the Core i5 in our tests.

Some AMD processors contain hidden extra cores that can be enabled in the Bios. Ensure that any tweaks are backed by the vendor.

Memory: If fast processors speed up your PC, a large bank of memory stops it from slowing down. Get the most out of your CPU by including at least 4GB of RAM. You can get by with 2GB, but your PC will run more smoothly with 4GB.

Core i5- and i7 800-series CPUs use DDR3 memory rather than DDR2, but there’s no need to buy the chips in threes as you do with i7 900-series systems.

Storage: Digital media will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive; buy the biggest you can afford. At least 500GB should be expected at this price point.

Consider using a pair of smaller hard drives rather than one large drive – a terabyte (1TB) is a huge amount of information to lose in one go.

Your DVD drive should write to the +/-R formats at 18-speed or better. Eight-speed rewriting is good; if you want to copy up to 8.5GB at once, look for fast DVD+/-R dual-layer drives. Blu-ray readers are becoming more affordable, but they’re still quite rare at this price.

Display: Note that 19in screens offer a lower resolution than 20in/22in monitors; 22in models display larger icons. Newer 21.6in (16:9) flat-panels are capable of displaying full-HD content, although onscreen elements will be even smaller.

A DVI or HDMI connector will provide a considerably better image than a VGA port; if you want to connect additional devices, you’ll need at least two. Finally, look for a good response rate: 8ms or below is fast enough for games.

Graphics cards: There’s not room in the budget for a really top-end graphics card at this price point, but you should still be able to find a decent model.

We test PCs using Fear and Crysis. Although 25fps is enough to make a game playable, you can set your sights higher at this price point – look for 50fps.

Current pricing will limit you in this area, but ATI’s Radeon HD 5770 and nVidia’s GeForce GTX 260 both deliver great performance and value for money, making the latest games playable if you drop the resolution and settings a notch.

nVidia cards offer support for realistic object interactions in games supporting PhysX and the ability to display content in 3D when used with special glasses.

If you don’t play games at all, you may be able to make do with the integrated graphics provided with Intel’s Core i5 600 series processors.

Power supply: A large PSU is less vital at this price point, but look for a model with a full set of SATA and PCI Express connectors to make later upgrades easier.

Sound card and speakers: Most motherboards at this price point depend on onboard sound. To get surround sound look for a 5.1-channel system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

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>> Next page: Specification and our expert verdict

Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • ASRock P55 Pro motherboard
  • PowerCool 750W PSU
  • 24in AOC 2436VWA (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express MSI ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/26fps
  • Fear = 200fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 750
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • ASRock P55 Pro motherboard
  • PowerCool 750W PSU
  • 24in AOC 2436VWA (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express MSI ATI Radeon HD 5770 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/26fps
  • Fear = 200fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131

OUR VERDICT

The Palicomp Core i5 Blast 750-24 Plus is a well-balanced system with the best core specification of the bunch. Its large monitor and set of two speakers and a subwoofer enhance its multimedia credentials, while its gaming performance is second to none. Although the dual-core Arbico and Eclipse are faster in our tests, neither offer a full-HD display or speakers as standard.

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