Acer Aspire 8930G review

10 Jun 2009

This laptop is terrific value, squeezing in a lot of features for the money, but quality does suffer in places.

Price when reviewed: 
1,199(£1,200 inc VAT)
4

Acer's Aspire 8930G may be one of the cheaper laptops on test this month, with a price of a mere £1,043 exc VAT, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in specification or features.

The processor, for instance, is Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9000, which achieved a respectable 2D benchmark result of 1.11 and scored highly in the multitasking component of the test - just like the gargantuan Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, which has the same CPU and excelled in the same area.

Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT is a popular part, appearing in four other machines this month, and its score of 15fps in our medium-quality Crysis benchmark means that the Aspire has some gaming ability, although it will struggle with the most demanding titles.

Unlike the Toshiba Qosmio G50, the low price of which limits its specification, the Acer includes plenty of flashy components. As well as 4GB of DDR3 RAM, there's a Blu-ray reader, 500GB of hard disk space, draft-n wireless and even a hybrid analogue/DVB-T TV tuner.

Battery life is reasonable despite this specification, with the 4,800mAh unit lasting for more than three hours in our light-use test and around half that time in the more demanding heavy-use benchmark. So there's some scope for using the Aspire 8930G away from home if you can find a bag to accommodate its 4kg weight and 50mm-thick frame.

Unfortunately, the Acer's budget price is reflected in the chassis. The keyboard and trackpad are hardly outstanding; the glossy finish looks and feels cheap, with the creaky lid and wristrest doing little to improve matters.

The screen and speakers can't match rivals, either: the TFT may have a decent resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, but it's pale and lifeless, and the speakers are muddy and weak compared with those used by Toshiba, HP and Dell.

This laptop still has plenty going for it. Alongside a capable processor, there's a decent set of features: many laptops would struggle to include Blu-ray, a half-terabyte of storage and a TV tuner for this sort of money. But in squeezing in all these features, the quality suffers and so scuppers the Acer's chance of an award.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,043
Price inc VAT £1,199
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 441 x 302 x 50mm (WDH)
Weight 4.000kg
Travelling weight 4.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000
Motherboard chipset Intel PM45 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 18.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 465GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate Momentus 5400.3
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Pioneer BDR-TD01RS
Battery capacity 4,800mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 200
Battery life, heavy use 89
Overall application benchmark score 1.11
Office application benchmark score 0.94
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.15
Encoding application benchmark score 0.85
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.23
3D performance (crysis) low settings 15fps
3D performance setting Medium

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Microsoft Works 8.5