Acer Aspire 5536 review
A cheap and cheerful desktop replacement that cuts acceptable corners to hit the low price
Review Date: 2 Oct 2009
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £365 (£420 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The Acer 5536 is a conspicuously designed laptop, with a tasteful blue exterior, shiny lights and a curved case that feels reassuringly solid. The glossy CineCrystal display is eye-catching too, and feels bigger than 15.6in. You'd never guess this is such a cheap laptop.
Peek under the bonnet and you can see where the savings have been made. Instead of the most common Core 2 Duo processors, the 5536 uses a mobile Athlon X2, which achieved a score of 0.88 in our 2D benchmarks. That's only a big problem for intensive computing tasks: 3GB of RAM keeps the OS responsive.
We were pleased to see no cut corners when it comes to the OS itself. Unlike many sub-£400 laptops, the Aspire 5536 uses Vista Home Premium rather than Home Basic. This means it includes the likes of Mobility Center, Media Center and a backup client, while also supporting Aero Glass transparency effects - and the onboard Radeon HD 3200 GPU is more than capable of supporting them. It isn't much use for gaming, however, achieving just 16fps with low settings in our Crysis test.
One let-down is the battery: 4,400mAh is on the low side and with a screen this size it lasted only 3hrs 41mins in our light-use test - disappointing even for such a cheap system. Still, a 15in laptop isn't designed for computing on the go. In that light it's impressive that Acer has retained as many grown-up features as it has. You get draft-n wireless (although no Bluetooth), a 500GB hard disk, Gigabit Ethernet and a multiformat card reader.
The keyboard hasn't got as positive an action as we'd like, but it's more solid than some expensive rivals, and the touchpad is large and responsive. The speakers can't fill a room, but they're loud and clear enough to watch a film.
So the Aspire 5536 has its flaws, but it does make a good, simple desktop replacement - and if that's all you need, the price is very tempting.
Author: Sasha Muller
Acer Aspire laptops
In fact the Acer Aspire 5536’s dimensions nudge it out of straight laptop and into desktop replacement territory. Its 15.6in screen may fall well short of the 17in displays on the more serious — and expensive — models in this category, but at 16:9, it’s wider than that of most laptops at this size. The catch is that the screen’s native resolution is a mere 1366 x 768, but that’s plenty of room to run a couple of applications side-by-side.
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