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Maximum PC Staff Sep 24, 2013

Acer Aspire 5600U

At A Glance

Good looks

Affordable price tag; thin; unique aesthetic.

Lame personality

Weak performance all-around; lackluster specs; no discrete graphics.

Trades thin figure for performance

The Acer Aspire 5600U is a slim and somewhat-sexy all-in-one. It features a 1.3-inch-thin chassis and a 23-inch display atop a clear-plastic base, giving the illusion that it’s floating in air. Once you get past the aesthetics, however, you’ll find that the 5600U is lacking where it counts.

The 5600U’s keyboard and mouse match the AiO’s slick, glassy aesthetic.

Keeping the AiO upright is an adjustable kickstand that allows it to tilt 30 to 80 degrees, which is limber enough to use sitting or standing. Alternately, a slide-in VESA mount makes it possible to attach the 5600U to an arm or wall. While it doesn’t feature a keyboard docking area like our Asus ET2300 zero-point, you can tuck the peripherals behind the display, in between its frame and the AiO’s stand. All in all, the 5600U doesn’t take up much space, with a desktop footprint of just 8x22.5 inches.

Another nice feature of the AiO is its 1920x1080-resolution monitor. While it’s a TN panel, it offers much better viewing angles than the HP Envy 23 we reviewed last month, though it has a similarly glossy screen that’s far too reflective for our tastes; the panel supports 10-point touch. While attractive, the thin profile doesn’t do wonders for audio, as the top-mounted speakers themselves sounded thin and project the audio toward the ceiling as opposed to at us.

In terms of ports, the left side of the AiO features two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and a mic/speaker-in. The right side has the power button, DVD drive, and monitor controls. On the back of the AiO there are three USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, S/PDIF port, and two HDMI ports for in/out options.

The transparent aesthetic of the included wireless mouse and keyboard is cool-looking and matches the 5600U, but in use we were unimpressed with the peripherals’ plasticky feel. This is especially true of the mouse, which is made of a low-quality, toy-like plastic. The compact keyboard feels slightly better, but oddly omits lights of any kind, such as a Caps Lock indicator.

While the AiO makes a nice first impression, once you get past its looks, you become aware of its deficiencies under the hood, even at the relatively affordable price of $1,000. It comes with a dual-core 3.2GHz Core i5-3230M that can Turbo up to 3.2GHz, 6GB of DDR3/1333, and—while large—a 1TB drive that spins at 5,400rpm. We wish it came with an SSD or at least a caching drive, but its biggest omission is a discrete video card.

It’s no surprise, given its specs, that it got creamed in our benchmarks. The Acer’s best showing was a 15 percent lag behind our zero-point’s quad-core 3GHz Core i5-3330M in ProShow Producer. You can thank the 5600U’s Hyper-Threading for that close showing. In the multithreaded TechARP x264 HD test, however, it got bullied by 40 percent. The integrated graphics got stomped by 45 percent in Metro 2033. Our zero-point’s GPU is but a GeForce 630M, too, so integrated graphics still have a long way to go in competing with even the humblest video cards.

Firing up the less stressful Portal 2, the 5600U was capable of just 15fps at 1080p on max settings. We were able to hit the 60fps range by disabling AA and setting everything to medium, so it’s playable if you don’t mind image quality taking a hit. In terms of boot times, the 5600U started up in 24 seconds, which is typical given its specs.

The Aspire 5600U is low-cost, but in more ways than one. While it might work as a decent touchscreen AiO for your parents, it most certainly doesn’t have the chops for a power user. If you’re looking for something that lives up to the “all-in-one” moniker, we recommend spending $300 more for the Asus ET2300, which features much better specs all around.

$1,000, www.acer.com

Benchmarks
 Zero-point

Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) 1,1921,486  (-19.8%)
ProShow Producer 5 (sec) 1,8412,181 (-15.6%)
x264 HD 5.0
9.9
5.9 (-40.4%)
Metro 2033 (fps)
2211.9 (-45.9%)
3DMark 11 Perf1,333631 (-52.7%)

Our zero-point all-in-one PC is an Asus ET2300 with a 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-3330M, 8GB DDR3/1600, 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive, a GeForce GT 630M, and Windows 8. Metro tested at 1280x768 with Medium settings, Tessellation enabled.

Specifications
CPU
2.6GHz Intel Core i5-3230M
GPU Intel HD 4000
RAM 6GB DDR3/1333
HDD 1TB (5,400rpm) HDD
Optical
DVD burner
Display23-inch TN LCD 1920x1080 (10-point touchscreen)


THE VERDICT

Acer Aspire 5600U

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