Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G review

23 Sep 2011

An imposing 18.4in display combined with powerful hardware, but the removable touchpad sours the experience

Price when reviewed 
1,420
3

With everyone’s eyes on the imminent arrival of Intel’s svelte, go-anywhere Ultrabooks, Acer’s Aspire Ethos 8951G comes as a complete contrast. With an 18.4in display, a quad-core Core i7 processor and 1.5TB of hard disk storage, this bulky desktop replacement is destined to never stray far from a mains socket.

Make no mistake, this is a huge laptop. Weighing just over 4kg and measuring a considerable 440mm across, the Acer is about as sizeable as laptops come. Despite its considerable bulk, however, it isn’t a laptop that draws attention to itself. Almost entirely covered in black brushed metal, with the odd accent of gloss and matte plastic, the only exception is a single strip of silver above the keyboard.

Whatever you might think of its looks, the Aspire Ethos 8951G has some formidable specifications up its sleeve. With a quad-core 2GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM processor nudging up against 8GB of RAM, this machine is seriously quick for a laptop – its score of 0.83 in our Real World Benchmarks puts it among the fastest laptops we’ve seen, and it’s no slouch in the gaming department, either.

Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G

The Acer’s Nvidia GeForce GT555M romped through our Low and Medium quality Crysis tests; it was only once we upped detail to High and pushed the resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 that the average frame rate slowed to an unplayable 19fps.

You’d reasonably expect such powerful components to drain the battery dry in mere minutes, but somehow that’s not the case. In our light use battery test the Aspire Ethos 8951G clung on for 5hrs 48mins. With the quad-core processor working flat out, and the screen brightness pushed to its maximum, heavy usage sapped the eight-cell battery in 1hr 15mins. For a laptop of its size, the Acer has an unusual amount of stamina.

And whether it’s games, spreadsheets or the latest in high-definition movies, the Acer’s glossy 18.4in display is impossible to ignore. The sheer size of the panel means that menu items remain comfortably readable at the default dpi setting, despite the Full HD resolution. Image quality is good, too: the glossy finish gives images plenty of pop, and colour reproduction is reasonably natural by laptop standards. Combined with the surprisingly loud, punchy set of speakers, it’s enough to make games and movies positively enjoyable.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,183
Price inc VAT £1,420
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 2
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 440 x 295 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 4.000kg
Travelling weight 4.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2630QM
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 8.00GB
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 GT 555M
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 750GB
Hard disk usable capacity 698GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9750423AS
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Slimtype BD E DS4E1S

Networking

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

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad (removable)
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard, base
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 48min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.83
Responsiveness score 0.85
Media score 0.85
Multitasking score 0.78

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A