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Acer Aspire 5520 Athlon 64 X2 under Vista

by on01 August 2007


The test model has a dual core AMD Athlon 64 X2 mobile TK-53 processor running at 1.7 GHz with 2x256 kb of cache. Integrated Nvidia GeForce 7000M card is a part of the relatively new nForce 610M chipset, released in May this year. Compared to its stronger brother 7150M graphics, this solution doesn’t offer hardware decoding of MPEG2 1080i / H.264 720p video, and the core speed is 350MHz compared to 425MHz on the 7150M. In 3DMark05 benchmark, the computer scored 612 marks, whereas PCMark5 scored 900 in graphics.

This notebook features 1GB of RAM, or to be more precise 2x512MB of DDR2 running at 533MHz. Out of the box, the graphics are set to use 256MB, so the system is left with about 750MB, and that, as we are soon to see, is not quite the best solution for Vista.

Of course, integrated graphics is a bottleneck.

Hitachi Travelstar SATA disk with 160GB running at 5400rpm and with 8MB of cache, and dual layer DVD-/+RW drive will take care of your storage needs. The screen is a 15.4 inch 1280x800 CrystalBrite and its response is 8ms. We have no complaints for the image quality except maybe for some background light shining trough on the bottom of the scren. The viewing angle is quite sufficient for a laptop.

The machine comes rather well equipped, with Ethernet, Wireless, modem, 4 USB connectors, ExpressCard 54 slot, D-Sub output for the monitor, S-Video out, SPDIF, FireWire, integrated mic, headphone out, mic in, audio out, 5 in 1 card reader, etc. The integrated webcam with 1.3 megapixels with Acers Crystal Eye technology has performed really well. Even with low lighting the results are excellent, the colors are good and there is very little noise.
The integrated camera offered excellent image quality, note the microphone on the right

The first serious disappointment came while booting up. It took over 4 minutes and “feeding” Vista and Aero in idle mode takes up more than 80% of available memory.

Windows experience index gave our notebook a 3.0 score, and mostly thanks to the integrated graphics. All other components scored much better. All the benchmarks scored decent results, considering it is a modestly priced notebook with integrated graphics.

Happy times, idle usage of less than 80% memory.

The problems arose in regular, day to day work. Vista simply consumes too much resources, and while running more application at once, the system reacts slowly. Program installations were horribly slow, and running the applications once installed wasn't much better.

We tried a couple of games, although the graphics card, as well as the other integrated solutions, doesn’t promis much performance. In FEAR, the best result was 15FPS, but some less resource hungry games didn’t do better either. Of course, we shouldn’t expect much from a notebook so this is not so bad. On the contrary, compared to the most integrated solutions one may say this is good, or at least above average.

The keyboard, compared to some older models, is well made. It is quiet, soft, but at the same time robust, and it doesn’t bend and squeal during use. Acer really took care of build quality this time around and paid a lot of attention to detail. The results speak for themselves and this model doesn’t look cheap at all, quite the contrary. The touchpad was moved a little bit to the left compared to the previous series, it looks nice, but does have some cursor-wandering problems from time to time. Nothing major, but it does happen. Between the left and right buttons there is an additional button that you use to scroll text or web-pages.

Much better than before, although some might find the buttons next to “Enter” unpractical, it only takes a little time to get used to them.

The speakers are significantly improved too, virtual surround is another added feature, and it makes some difference. Of course, don’t expect miracles, there are some low frequencies missing, but the sound is much better than in previous models. All in all, it’s quite sufficient to enjoy music while working or watching a movie on the road.

With the notebook you’ll get Acer's DVD player software, and it is much better than Windows Media Player, and we shouldn’t forget the useful Acer E-Manager.

Battery life is standard for its class. After a couple of measurements we got an average of 2 hours and 10 minutes. Of course, we must note that Vista uses more energy than XP.

Last modified on 01 August 2007
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