Review: Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G
- — 28 June, 2012 22:00
|Name||Laptop: Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G|
|At a glance:||15.6-inch 1366x768 LED-backlit display,2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU, 8GB RAM,Nvidia GT 555M 2GB GPU ,750GB, 5400RPM hard drive|
|Summary:||Holds its own against the more-expensive competition with fantastic battery life, but gets hamstrung by a poor screen plus other minor drawbacks.|
On paper, Acer's Aspire 5951G is very similar to the HP Envy 15, with a 15.6-inch LED-backlit LCD screen, 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM processor, 8GB of DDR-1333 memory and 750GB HDD. The hard drive has a slower spin speed – 5400RPM – which will affect transfer speeds. However, the Ethos does come with a Blu-ray reader/DVD-RW combo drive as opposed to the Envy’s plain DVD-RW.
The 5951G also uses Nvidia’s Optimus to provide switchable graphics. When you require powerful graphics processing for games or applications, then the discrete Nvidia GT 555M will be enabled. For less graphics-intensive tasks, the system will automatically switch to the basic onboard GPU. That way you also save power when you don’t need graphical grunt.
Move a slider on the front of the 5951G and the touchpad pops out. It can then be used wirelessly, or switched to a backlit media remote at the touch of button to control your music and videos. It’s a cool feature, but the touchpad is one of the worst I’ve ever used – it has a glossy, smooth finish which tends to grip skin and makes it quite tiring to use. There is also a slight delay when waking itself up in wireless mode if you leave it alone for a few seconds which can get annoying.
Clearly visible in our benchmarks, the 5951G is the only notebook in our June 2012 roundup aside from the Envy 15 that could utilise QuickSync for MediaConverter7 transcoding. The QuickSync hardware sits inside the GPU area of the Intel CPU. When you use a discrete video card this area is powered down – disabling QuickSync functionality in the process. Optimus powers it back up when the discrete GPU is not needed, allowing you the best of both worlds.
As for the rest of the performance stats, the 5951G did well in all the CPU intensive tests such as file compression, photo editing, 3D scene rendering, and video transcoding/encoding. It also performed will in DiRT3 and Trackmania game tests, but not so well in the 3DMark11 and Heaven 2.5 synthetic tests. HDD transfer speeds are also rather low, as predicted.
Where this Acer laptop really stands out is battery life. Under the stressful Battery Eater Pro 2.70 Classic test it only lasted 1 hour and 11 minutes. That’s an average result, but it topped the chart by managing over 7 hours in the Reader’s test – more representative of the sort of mild usage scenarios you might employ.
The sleekly designed unit has a nice brushed aluminium top, but the rest of the construction is mainly plastic. I found that it flexed a bit under duress. The keys are widely spaced and there is a full number pad. The headphone outlet can be converted to a digital optical output which makes it ideal for hooking up to a hi-fi system for music. Much like the rest of the models in this group test, the built-in speakers are loud and clear but lacking in any decent form of bass.
My biggest gripe with the 5951G –other than the touchpad – is the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed. There were no less than three antivirus trial programs installed, and I could hardly use the machine for five minutes without one app or another asking me to update or register. Infuriating!
The monitor performed as poorly as the HP Envy 15, which reduces its suitability for content creation and the fan noise is just horrible – it spins up for no apparent reason at times, and is just plain loud under sustained load.