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Monday, 07 February 2011 11:04

Acer Aspire 5745DG reviewed - 7. GPU Performance

Written by Sanjin Rados
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Review: 3D - are we there yet?


Acer Aspire 5745DG is one of few laptops with 3D picture capabilities, but make no mistake – it packs a mean punch as it is. You’ll get special Nvidia’s 3D Vision 3D glasses in the package.

Since we’re talking about 3D Vision, Nvidia’s technology, we’ll mention that Acer offers several models with Nvidia Optimus technology, such as AS5742G. According to NVIDIA, Optimus technology is currently not available for notebooks designed to support 3D Vision, meaning our today’s 5745DG does not feature Optimus.

In case you haven’t been following Optimus, you should know that the tech enables saving power and thus extending your battery life. The method is quite simple – when the integrated graphics processing unit lacks juice to process information, Nvidia’s discrete graphics will wake up from idle mode and save the day. Naturally, discrete graphics consumes more and thus stays idle most of the time. 

Good thing about Optimus technology is that the driver itself decides whether an app requires faster graphics. Turning the GPUs on and off is done on the fly and the transition is smooth so you’re practically saving power whenever possible.

Although Acer 5745DG does not come with Optimus, meaning that Intel’s IGP is off all the time, the battery is pretty good and will last several hours depending on what you’re doing.

acer5745_front1

One of the most interesting things on the Aspire 5745DG is the 3D capability, courtesy of Nvidia’s 3D Vision. As you know, the flat screen shows only 2D with no depth perception information. When you put the shutter glasses on, however, 3D Vision will make sure that the user gets a feeling of depth, i.e. the third dimension. Of course, 3D is not only reserved for static pictures and will run good in games as well.


As you would expect, it takes more processing power to display 3D than 2D and Acer made sure that Aspire 5745DG packs a nice punch.

The laptop comes with Intel’s Core i5-450M CPU running at 2.4GHz, 4GB of DDR3 memory (532MHz) and 500GB hard disk. Graphics comes from Nvidia – Geforce GT420M with 1024MB of memory. Thankfully, the shutter glasses are included in the package.


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5745_spec1

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Specification:

Acer Aspire 5745DG-5454G50Bnks

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64
Processor Family:  Intel Core i5-450M processor (2.4GHz, 3MB L3 cache)
Display:                 15.6” Wide XGA Glare D2 (1366 x 768 resolution, 120 Hz frequency, 8 ms response time, 16:9 aspect ratio)
Memory:               4GB DDR 3 1066 MHz, up to 8 GB
Hard Disk Drive:    500GB 5400rpm
Graphics:              GT 420M 1024MB
Audio Optimized:   Dolby Home Theater v3 audio enhancement
Optical Disc Drive: Blu-ray Disc/Super-Multi DL combo drive
W-Lan:                 Acer InviLink Nplify 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Network Card:      10/100/1000 Mbit
Camera:               1.3 Acer Crystal Eye HD webcam
Bluetooth:            Bluetooth 3.0+HS
Card Reader:        Multi-in-1
Battery:                9-cell Li-ion

Dimensions & Weight 379 (W) x 250 (D) x 31.9/57.7 (H) mm 2.9 kg

Warranty One Year Carry In, with International Travellers Warranty (ITW) included


Package

box-2

box3


Acer Aspire 5745DG -5454G50Bnks measures 40 x 379 x 250mm (H x W x L) and weighs in at 2.9kg. It might not be the most compact among its 15’’ brethren, but it has much to offer even despite its size and weight.

Generally speaking, the laptop is pretty sleek. As you can see, it’s black with barely noticeable grey stripes, which is something Acer tends to use on all its laptops.

acer5745_front1

The only thing of interest on the front is the card reader.

closed_front_view

Once placed on a hard surface, you’ll notice that the rear part of the laptop is elevated by about 2cm, which comes in pretty handy as it slightly angles the keyboard. As you can see from the picture below, the battery is the culprit. Acer Aspire 5745DG does not have any connectors on the back.

acer5745_back1

We must admit that the battery, which is the main reason for such weight, can get pretty uncomfortable when you keep the laptop in your lap for longer hours.

acer-back-1

The bottom part is made of plastic and comes with plenty air outlets. Hot air exits via the outlet on the left side, which means that right handed users won’t get hot air on their hands.

acer-5745-angled

Keyboard

Acer Aspire 5745DG is a real treat for typing and office work so first-time laptop users will feel at home pretty quick. Other than perhaps a bit smaller arrow keys, we had no complaints. The keyboard is tough and will not bend unless you apply strong pressure.

acer5745_tastatura

There’s not much plastic around the keyboard, meaning no need for frequent cleaning of dust fingerprints. The palm rest is made of brushed aluminum.

Touchpad

The touchpad is large and supports multi touch – scrolling with two fingers, Pinch Zoom, etc. As you can see, it looks pretty nice.

5745DG-touchpad

The touchpad is Synaptics TouchPad V7.2 and it offers plenty of options.

pinch_zoom


 

Acer Aspire 5745DG -5454G50Bnks comes with power, battery and communication LEDs. The LEDs are placed on the side and they’re clearly visible when the display is closed.

 

5745-battery-charging

Once the battery is charged, the indicator will glow blue.

5745-battery-charging1

The picture below shows the large, round power button with a blue LED. Next to it are HDD, Num Lock and Caps Lock LEDs. The speakers are in the same row, and they’re pretty decent.

5745DG-power-button

Optical drive is released via the button on the right side, above the numeric keyboard. Next to it is a button marked with P (P stands for programmable), for which we initially didn’t know what it does.

5745DG-eject-button

As you can see from the picture above, the power-in connector is on the right side of the laptop. The same side holds Blu-ray Disc/Super-Multi DL combo drive and three USB 2.0 connectors.

acer-right-3

The fourth USB 2.0 connector is on the opposite side. Note that Acer Aspire 5745DG does not have USB 3.0 connectors.

acer-left-4

Acer Aspire 5745DG comes with one HDMI and one VGA out. Multimedia enthusiasts will be glad to see 3DTV Play support, which means you can play 3D video on a 3D TV capable device via the HDMI. For that you’ll need Nvidia’s 3DTV Play software which is a free upgrade for 3D Vision computer owners (You can find the complete list of HDMI 1.4 3D TVs supported by 3DTV Play here).



 

Acer Aspire 5745DG -5454G50Bnks laptop uses 15.6 inch LCD display with 120MHz refresh rate, mandatory if you want to use Nvidia’s shutter glasses to view 3D. It’s a display with pretty good lighting of 200 cd/m2, but perhaps a bit too reflective for our taste. On the other hand, strong lighting is a must since the shutter glasses come with dark lens. Nvidia 3D Vision works only in full screen mode.



display1

Display:

  • -3D-ready 15.6" HD 1366 x 768 resolution, high-brightness (220-nit) Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCD (Wide XGA Glare D2)
  • -NVIDIA 3D Vision Ready
  • -120 Hz frequency
  • -16:9 aspect ratio
  • -8 ms response time
  • -16:9 aspect ratio

Nvidia 3D Vision requires an IR emitter that transmits the signal from the laptop to the glasses. The emitter is integrated into Aspire 5745DG’s display frame. You can actually see it on the picture above – just a few centimeters to the right from the camera.

Of course, the shutter glasses require power, which is supplied by the integrated battery. The glasses are charged via the mini-USB cable, which can be performed while you’re using them. One charge can take days.

Aspire 5745DG’s picture quality is pretty good. Viewing angles aren’t perfect but the person next to you can see the picture quite well.


acer-5745-side-view

Aspire 5745DG will chew up HD or 3D Blu-ray video easily. Viewing 3D movies is best done in a dark room as another light source may cause flickers in glasses, which isn’t quite comfortable.

3D is visible from a few meters but complete 3D experience is best achieved by sitting close to the device. We must say we were pretty impressed with the third dimension and found it very comparable to watching movies in 3D cinemas. Naturally, you probably can’t substitute the large cinema screen when it comes to movie viewing pleasure.

Playing games in 3D is definitely not popular yet, mostly due to expensive equipment. As far as 3D supporting games go, several hundred games will run just fine with 3D vision, including many older games.

Thanks to current technology, illusion of the third dimension on a 2D screen is pretty good. On the other hand, it’s something you need to try for yourself and see whether you can take the shutter glasses.

If you cannot afford a 3D monitor, laptop or TV, and you still haven’t seen a 3D video, then stroll over to a 3D cinema and see what we’re talking about.

 




 

Acer Aspire 5745DG comes with Intel’s Core i5 450M CPU and Nvidia Geforce GT 425M graphics.


cpuz_cpu

cpuz_mainboard

cpuz_memory

cpuz_spd



Cinebench R11.5 result


hyper_threading

cinebenchr11.5

Intel Core i5 450M performance is good enough for most tasks on Aspire 5745DG. As you can see from the results, displaying the third dimension causes much grief to the graphics card.

3D Mark 06 result

mark06





Playing games in 3D is somewhat o a hit or miss for most users. We must admit that Acer AS5745DG – 5454G50Bnks has pretty limited performance for 3D gaming.

Aspire 5745DG relies on Nvidia’s Geforce GT 425M GPU, a new mid-range Fermi-based GPU. This naturally means that it has DirectX 11 support.

GT425M_GPUZ

Acer Aspire 5745DG’s graphics will be enough for playing most games at 1024x768 whereas certain games will allow for gaming at the native resolution of 1366x768. However, 3D gaming is a demanding task and will provide different results even at lower resolutions depending on the game. For instance, playing Avatar in 3D is pretty fun whereas Mafia 2 stuttered a lot. As you can see from the results, if you lower the resolution and special effects, playing in 3D is possible.

Mafia II

As you can see, AS5745DG can run Mafia II at 1366x768.

mafia800x600

mafia1024x768

mafia1366x768

mafia_22


Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is not that demanding when it comes to graphics but 3D literally slashed the FPS count in half. All the resolutions were tested with same settings.

left4dead1366x768

left4dead

Metro 2033

metro___1024x768

metr_o1366x768
 

metro2033

Lost Planet 2 (DirectX 9)

Resolution 800x600
lostplanet_800

Resolution 1024x768
losplanet_1024

Resolution 1360x768
losplanet_1024
lostplanet2




Acer Aspire 5745DG is pretty quiet when idle – all you’ll hear is the airflow itself. Hard drive crackle is occasional and unobtrusive. Blu-ray drive can be a bit loud in the beginning but noise drops to an acceptable level during the course of a movie.

The fan gets louder in 3D but not to the level where we’d call it loud. The best indicator that the system is under load is the heat exiting via the air outlet.

The part around WASD keys is the hottest region on the upper part of the laptop – it can go up to 46°C. Left palm-rest will go up to 41°C whereas the right side is always much cooler.

The bottom part of the laptop remains cool regardless of intensity of work, except for the left-top part where temperatures can hit up to 52°C. As far as keeping it in your lap goes, heat won’t be a problem as the battery will raise the laptop. Unfortunately, the battery is pretty uncomfortable and we wouldn’t recommend keeping it in that position for long hours.

The highest temperature we measured from the large air outlet was 74°C. Note however that this was during FurMark and Prime tests, so normal operation and gaming temperatures won’t come close to this.

The following screenshots show that components are pretty cool in idle, but that temperatures rise under load.

cpuid_idle

cpuid_load

GT425M_GPUZ_idle

GT425M_GPUZ_load


Acer AS5745DG uses a large 9-cell, 99 Wh Lithium-Ion battery with 900mAh, which provides long operation. The battery is tall enough to lift the laptop about 2cm off the ground, but we didn’t mind since it provides for an angled keyboard.

acer-5745-angled


acer-5475-battery

Watching movies is not a problem since the batter will take up to three and half hours of high intensity lighting. If you turn on 3D, battery life will drop to slightly more than 2 hours. On the other hand, office work with an internet connection can last more than 5 hours on one charge.

 



Conclusion

Aspire 5745DG is among the rare laptops, if not devices in general, that boasts 3D capabilities.

Our test model, Acer Aspire 5745DG-5454G50Bnks comes with 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 450M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Nvidia Geforce GT 425M graphics. Intel’s integrated graphics is turned off by default so Nvidia’s discrete GPU runs all the time. According to Nvidia, Optimus technology is not currently featured on 3D Vision supporting laptops.

If you want 3D, then Aspire 5745DG is a good start. Its price is definitely lower than that of a 3D television (around €1000) and Nvidia 3D Vision and shutter glasses will give you all the 3D you need. The 15.6’’ display will provide nice fun for playing in 2D or 3D, although the pleasure of watching a 3D movie in two will require purchase of another Nvidia’s shutter glasses. 

Today’s technology provides for a pretty nice illusion of 3D space on a flat display, but it is something that you’ll have to see for yourself and make up your own mind. If you cannot afford a 3D laptop or 3D TV, then at least visit a 3D cinema to know what we are talking about.

Our general impression is that 3D really impresses most that see it. Unfortunately, the impression is not strong enough to make all of them splash out to own it. However, if you’re a 3D enthusiast and crave for a 3D laptop, then there’s no reason why AS 5745DG shouldn’t make your list.




(Page 7 of 10)
Last modified on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 15:37
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