|Name||All-in-one PC: Acer Aspire Z5771|
|At a glance:||23-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel touchscreen,2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600S CPU, 8GB RAM,Nvidia GeForce GT 520 graphics,Media remote control with QWERTY keyboard|
|Summary:||Powerful CPU, let down by an underpowered GPU and somewhat tacky appearance.|
The Aspire's design is novel, featuring a sloping foot along the front edge and a picture-frame stand at the rear. You’ve got about 20 degrees of vertical angle adjustment, simply by tilting the screen against the spring-loaded stand. It’s surprisingly stable, though the plastic construction does reduce the visual appeal.
The 23-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel multi-touch screen feels soft. That makes tapping buttons or icons more comfortable than it is with the unyielding screens found on other models (such as HP’s TouchSmart 520). Conversely, it makes dragging items around and performing gestures a little more difficult due to the added pressure required.
Behind the screen is a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-S2600S CPU. This is the same quad-core, eight-threaded chip found in Samsung’s Series 9 All-in-One, and gives the same impressive processing power. With this setup and 8GB of RAM, the Aspire is well suited to multi-threaded tasks such as video encoding, and the kind of heavy multitasking designers and developers often require.
Oddly, the Aspire’s CPU performs notably better (20-27% faster) than the same chip in Samsung’s Series 9 in our 7-Zip and Cinebench single-core benchmarks. We suspect the Aspire may provide slightly better CPU cooling that allows Intel’s Turbo Boost technology to run at faster clock speeds on single cores for longer.
Graphics are provided by an Nvidia GeForce GT 520 solution with 1GB of dedicated video memory. Apart from an oddly high score in our Call of Pripyat DirectX 10 benchmark, the GT520 is thoroughly outperformed by the AMD Radeon HD 6730M in the Samsung Series 9 and the Radeon HD 6970M in the top Apple iMac. It achieved roughly half the performance of the Series 9, for example.
The Aspire may not be ideal for gaming, but that GeForce GT 520 is sufficiently powerful to handle the GPU-acceleration found in photo and video editing software, 3D editors and the like. This goes well with its ‘heavily multicore’ setup, making it a good touch-based workstation for graphics and 3D work.
Connections are pretty standard: a multi-card reader, two well-spaced USB 2.0 ports, and headphone/microphone sockets run down the left-hand edge. A tray-loading Blu-ray drive sits on the right hand side, and at the rear there’s an antenna input for the Aspire’s digital TV tuner, HDMI input and output, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, and an S/PDIF optical audio output.
In the box are a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, and Windows Media Center remote. The keyboard and mouse share a single wireless receiver, which takes up a single USB 2.0 port. An infrared receiver for the Media Center remote is built into the front of the all-in-one.
The keyboard and mouse use the same two-tone design as the Aspire, but their overuse of matte-silver plastic makes them look cheap. The keyboard features ‘floating island’ keys, their surfaces floating about 8mm above a piano-black plastic backplane. This looks quite nifty, but means dust and debris collects beneath the keys and the keyboard is difficult to clean. The mouse is basic, but feels comfortable and works well.
The Media Center remote deserves a little attention: in addition to the usual TV-style controls on the front, there’s a full QWERTY keyboard on the back. The rubberised buttons make for slow typing, but it’s just the thing for firing off a quick YouTube search from across the room.
It’s a good performer for the price, and fills a niche for a touch-enabled graphical, 3D and/or video workstation for the home or small office. However, the vastly superior graphical capabilities and larger screen of the Samsung Series 9 All-in-One make it silly to choose the Acer Aspire unless you’re really dead set on touch.1