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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Most people have covered the important stuff, so I will use this space to cover some misconceptions and add some general thoughts:

- Acer is great. If you google online, you will find a lot of hate towards the company. And, I imagine this comes from the fact that they didn't make great PCs 5-10 years ago, so they have a lot of old customers that will speak out against them. Fair enough. But, Acers are great now, yet remain very inexpensive. This laptop is very stylish and very well-built. It's solid. If you are concerned about going Acer, don't be.

-Acer is great with support and driver-support. In the past, I have owned Sony and Lenovo laptops. At some point, something would annoy the hell out of me. Sony "locks down" their operating system in terms of drivers. You want a new graphics card driver? You have to wait until Sony gets it from intel/AMD and re-releases it for your laptop. Often, the graphics card drivers that Sony offers are several YEARS old, which is bad bad news for gaming. The other option is to get hacked drivers, which can cause issues (for example, HDMI never worked on my sony laptop, because I preferred to lose HDMI with a hacked driver rather than use a 3 year old driver). Huge headache. Lenovo has awful support, and the Lenovo laptop I bought had a severe wifi problem, which Lenovo ignored and hid for several years, while still selling the laptop. This Acer laptop? As soon as it came in the mail, I updated ALL of my drivers FROM THE MANUFACTURER. I installed AMD catalyst installer, which automatically updated graphics/cpu/HDMI/USB/etc drivers to the latest version, and Acer didn't block ANY of it. Acer lets you use your computer how you want to use it, and I love it. This laptop runs a pretty "pure" version of Windows 8, without Acer trying to get in your way. More companies need to follow Acer's ideology on this one. I own this laptop, and Acer treats me as such. Additionally, Acer's support is great. Their driver/software update page for this laptop is well-organized and updated. I noticed there was a bios update for this laptop, which I wasn't sure if I should download due to the inherently sketchy nature of bios upgrades. I contacted Acer's chat support, which was available in seconds. They went through the changelog of the bios update with me, and recommended that I did not install it at this time. Very polite, very quick, very knowledgeable. With Sony/Lenovo, it was always a "let me check that for you" while they left for 10 minutes, coming back with a canned non-answer. And, you have to realize I am comparing a $600 Acer and a $1,800 Sony here, and I'll take the Acer customer support every single time.

-AMD is fine. People are completely right that Intel significantly out-classes AMD in the CPU category. But, that DOES NOT matter in this range. Yes, Intel makes high-end laptop CPUs that AMD cannot even touch. If you are buying a high-end laptop, you need to go with Intel. But, in this range, both Intel and AMD make CPUs with identical benchmarks, and AMD is cheaper. In mid-range gaming laptops, there is no good reason to go with Intel. This AMD A10-4600m is similar to several intel i3/i5s on the ivy bridge architecture, both of which would be significantly more expensive than this AMD. Same exact performance in benchmarks, less expensive. This AMD competes with the Ivy Bridge intel processors (which were the newest Intel processors until very recently), and they have similar power consumption and heat production. So, anyone that says that AMDs "run hotter" or "kill battery" are misinformed and simply spewing out untruths.

- I looked for ages, and you will not find a better gaming laptop in this price range. I play Just Cause 2, Civilization 5, Counter Strike: GO, Left 4 Dead 2, and a few other games at ultra/max settings at 40-70 FPS. That is absurd for a $600 laptop. I even tried playing very intensive games like Metro 2033, and it could actually handle ultra (though I bumped it down to medium/high for a better FPS). It is true that this is not a MONSTER of a gaming machine, and you will have trouble running some new games on ultra. But, I have yet to find a game that it can't handle on medium, and it handles MOST games on high or ultra.

That is what I wanted to focus on in this review, as most people have covered the build quality/design/keyboard/etc. Overall, this is the best laptop I have ever owned. It looks nice, everything "just works," there is absolutely nothing you need to do to get this thing running, and it is snappy as hell. That said, Acer had to "cut corners" at some points to get this thing to be $600. In my opinion, they cut all of the right corners, and put the cash where it needed to be to make this the best possible laptop for $600. That said, I will go over some cons to end this review (but, I want to be clear that these are just cons for the curious. They are not huge complaints in my mind, and I love the laptop overall).

-The screen could be better. It's a budget TN panel (which is 100% expected in this price range). As a result, the viewing angle isn't great and you will find yourself adjusting the angle so that games/movies don't look dark. Not a huge issue, but worth noting. The resolution is 1366x786, which is somewhat low for a 15.6" screen (though somewhat standard these days). The trade off is that it can run games better. Like I said, this game can run new games on medium/high/ultra. If it was running these games at a higher resolution, it would likely struggle to play them. So, I am okay with the trade off. Somewhat lower resolution, but significantly better gaming. Additionally, the colors are a bit washed out. I recommend playing with the color settings in AMD's catalyst control center (right click desktop -> Graphics Settings). I upped the color saturation a good bit, and it really brings out the color. This will all be personal preference, though, so I recommend messing around with the saturation/gamma/contrast/brightness to get it where you want it. In my opinion, with standard settings, the screen is pretty lackluster. The physical brightness of the screen is very good. It gets very dark for dark/night situations, yet very very bright for outside/gaming/media usage. If I were to crank up the brightness to the max right now, this white amazon background would probably make my eyes bleed. This is a good thing.

-The keyboard layout is great (full number keys, convenient FN functions), but the overall quality isn't anything to write home about. The keys are somewhat loud, and some of the larger keys have slight issues. For example, the shift key is a large key, but the actual part of the key that is recognized is in the center of the key. I want to be 100% clear that this is not an issue for normal usage. You will never be typing, hit shift, and not have it register. But I have noticed that in gaming, where you might reach down with your pinky, tapping the very edge of the key lightly with a pink provides mixed results.
Again, this is not a common issue or a very large issue, but it is worth noting.

-The layout of the overall computer is somewhat silly. Most of the hot components (CPU/GPU/etc) seem to be positioned on the left side of the computer. This is sort of silly for a gaming PC (apparently the "g" in 551g signals that acer markets this as a gaming PC). As gamers know, you are generally holding your left hand on the WASD keys, and this is where the computer gets hot when gaming intensely. The right side remains completely cool. Seems like they should have done the entire internal layout in the opposite direction so that the left side remains cool. The reason the DIDN'T, I assume, is because the fan blows out of the left side of the computer. If it were turned around, it would blow out of the right side, right onto your mouse hand. If you use your left hand for the mouse, KNOW THAT THIS PC WILL BLOW HEAT RIGHT ONTO YOUR HAND. The ideal solution would be to have the hot components on the right side of the PC, then have the fans blow out of the BACK of the laptop, away from you completely. Not sure why they picked this layout, but it is my biggest gripe with the computer. All of that said, this laptop only gets particularly hot when playing intense games for long periods of time, and even then it's not as if it gets hot enough to burn you or anything. But, it is an annoyance and a complaint with the overall design of the PC.

-The ram and HDD do leave some to be desired, as others have noted. It's a very basic, 5400 RPM hard drive, and 2 GB of the ram aren't as powerful as the other 4. That said, unlike other reviewers, I don't think it is a huge deal. Some reviewers make it sound as if though the hard drive forces this laptop to a slow crawl, which isn't true. This laptop still cold boots in 30 seconds, awakes from sleep almost instantly, and opens apps very faster. Yes, a solid state hard drive will make all of this even FASTER, but it isn't as if it is slow out of the box. It's just not as fast as it could be. And, if you choose to replace the hard drive, Acer was nice enough to leave an extra, empty hard drive bay for a secondary drive. So, you can replace the hard drive, yet keep the stock hard drive as a secondary, 750GB drive. For a budget laptop that had to cut some costs, this is a pretty ideal solution. As for the ram, the standard ram actually is fine for gaming and pretty much everything else. If it really bothers you, though, you can completely replace the ram and install 8GB of top-of-the line ram for $45 or so, so I don't think that should even factor into your decision to buy or pass on this laptop. I am a pretty heavy PC user/gamer, and I am still using the stock ram/HDD. It doesn't really bother me. If it bothers you, it can be remedied very cheaply and conveniently, with the extra HDD bay and convenient location.

That about sums up my overall satisfaction (yet minor complaints) with this laptop. At the end of the day, I completely recommend this laptop for anyone who wants to play PC games but wants to stay under $700. Even if you don't game, the components make overall computing, using programs like photoshop, doing video editing, etc very snappy and smooth. Now, you CAN buy a more powerful laptop for more cash, but that is a decision you have to make for yourself. To buy another laptop that plays games as well as this one, you'll be looking at spending at least $800-900. For a laptop that is MORE powerful than this one, you'll be paying over $1,000. To me, this laptop is at a very acceptable level of power for its price, and I wouldn't shell out another $500 just to play SOME games on ultra rather than high. But, if you are asking yourself, "should I buy this PC?" That is the question you are asking yourself. Because, at this price range, this laptop is a no-brainer.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2013
I've had this laptop almost a week and I love this computer. Windows 8 was weird at first but I used to it, I stopped all the window tiles from being alive all the time because it bogged down the computer. Windows 8 reminds me alot like Xbox Live because the Windows store is just like it. I've been using this laptop to play The Sims 3 & a few other games and it runs so smoothly, my last Acer laptop always shudders and overheats when playing any game even with all the settings to low. I've been playing the Sims 3 on max settings and I had no problems.

Overall this laptop is great for all you general needs and but I wouldn't buy this laptop for serious gaming like playing Crysis 3.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2013
Great unit with dual graphics that gives it a massive boost in graphics power. If you're doing anything cloud based, running anything from Adobe, stream a lot of content like Netflix or from YouTube the graphics on this takes everything you can throw at it. The quad core CPU will over clock to 3.2 Ghz with the automatic Turbo Core feature. This is the first Acer I've ever had, and it works very well so far. I heard the Microsoft has an app called, Classic that will allow you to revert the operating system back to Windows 7 if you want. It'll also do Vista, but why? Did I mention it has 2 graphics cards?! Nice laptop!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
The specs of this laptop are pretty awesome for the price. Here's basically everything I know about this laptop from personal experience:

- UEFI support (with and without SecureBoot) works well with Windows 8 and 8.1, along with Ubuntu (and variants except Kubuntu) 13.04 and 13.10. Does not boot Windows 7's installer in UEFI mode (lock up on boot animation).

- The included Windows 8 product key is for Core, and not Professional. You should grab the key and take note of it somewhere via a program from Windows. If you lose the key and need to reinstall Windows, Windows 8 should be able to grab the key from firmware (laptop is OA 3.0-compliant).

- The dual graphics setup is muxless (lacks hardware mux). The 7660G (iGPU) is what drives the displays (internal, HDMI, and VGA), and the 7670M (dGPU) can handle rendering if you set it to. You cannot disable the 7670M from firmware (BIOS/UEFI), and you cannot switch the 7670M to drive the display primarily from firmware. GPU handling and switching is reliant on the driver.

- This laptop can do Dual Graphics under Windows (Vista+) only. While Dual Graphics is a form of CrossfireX, it is not the same as desktop Crossfire. When enabling Dual Graphics for all applications, Windows 8's Modern UI can exhibit missing text, characters, and sections.

- The APU is user-replaceable. The socket is FS1. Not sure on any microcode or power limits for any other processor swaps, but I would assume any FS1-compatible APU (has to be APU with an iGPU) to work fine (if temperatures permit).

- You have to disassemble the laptop completely to access the APU, along with the rest of the cooling system. When disassembling, the top half comes off first (black touchpad area, then Keyboard), then you remove 2-3 screws to remove the motherboard.

- With my model, the thermal paste was applied excessively on the APU, and a smaller amount (what looked like a different kind of cheaper quality paste) was on the dGPU. If at all having thermal problems, and want to improve it, do look into reapplying thermal paste. The APU's VRM and dGPU's VRAM chips also contact the cooling system, but via thermal pads.

- A cheap laptop cooler doesn't affect temperatures. Your experience may vary with different cooling pad models.

- If on a Windows-based operating system, do not enable "Pci Lock" or set "usefirmwarepcisettings" to yes from bcdedit, as this will cause both the iGPU's and dGPU's driver to not load.

- The USB 2.0 ports are on their own PCB and connect to the motherboard via ribbon cable. The USB 3.0 port is attached to the motherboard directly. Generally speaking, it is easier to replace the USB 2.0 ports if something were to happen to them.

- The keyboard is Chicony (can verify this via sticker on the bottom of it), and is attached to the motherboard via ribbon cable. Can likely be replaced with a similar keyboard, but I have not tested this.

- Keyboard has ghosting issues with certain keys (mostly notable with the arrow keys; WASD seems fine).

- The touchpad physical buttons work best when pressed in the center. Pressing the outer edges may not register as-easily, or at all.

- There is no driver for the 7670M dGPU under Windows XP Professional x64.

- The 7660G iGPU is ARUBA, and the 7670M dGPU is TURKS. The 7670M is a 6xxx rebrand. This is particularly useful information under Linux. Both the open-source radeon driver and the proprietary fglrx driver work nicely with both GPUs. Last I checked (pre-saucy), Ubuntu's Mir only led to a garbled display, but your experience may vary.

- Under Linux (at least with Ubuntu), Bluetooth will always be enabled on boot (if you turn it off and reboot, it'll be enabled again).

- Programs under Windows may have difficulty in determining which GPU is in-use (particularly GPU-Z and MSI Afterburner). Rely on Catalyst for such information. Should also note that GPU-Z can cause a BSoD if the dGPU isn't active at the time. You can disable Ulps to get around that, but then the dGPU will always be active (consuming slightly more power).

- The DVD drive got stuck one time I tried ejecting it. This only happened once though, and I'm not entirely sure of the exact circumstances.

- During high CPU usage, the touchpad can become unresponsive. This may or may not be driver-dependent.

- Dolby Home Theater is questionable. Sounds sound "differently", but I wouldn't go as far to say they sound better. With the feature enabled, I even noticed some crackling from certain songs, so I just keep it disabled. I expect this to add some DPC latency if enabled.

- You cannot use the USB 3.0 port to boot media from, but you can use the USB 2.0 ports. Legacy USB seems to be enabled (and cannot be toggled from firmware). Cannot use the SD card slot for media booting either.

- Acer does provide updated firmware for this laptop. Latest at the time of writing is 2.14. Take very careful notice of all warnings before flashing.

Games I've tried playing (under Windows 8.1 with GA updates):
Path of Exile - 40-60 FPS
Guild Wars 2 - 20-40 FPS (Shadows at Medium, no Reflections, no Best Texture Filtering)
Dota 2 - 30-60 FPS
osu! - 120+ FPS
Grand Theft Auto IV - 30-50 FPS (Draw Distance and Detail at 1, Vehicle Density at 50, Lowest Shadows, no Reflections)
Star Wars: The Old Republic - 30-80 FPS (no Shadows)
(games tested were at 1366x768 resolution on the 7670M dGPU without CrossfireX on AC Power at highest settings without FXAA with AMD's 13.11 BETA7 driver)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2013
It is better than my last acer laptop.

Dual graphics are very awesome.

The A10-4600 is also very good for running.

The price is very comfortable for me.

It is not expensive, but it has a really great equipment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2013
Pros: Practically Everything... The hardware is superb. Apps load with a snap. Speakers blew my mind for a laptop, my fathers computer has a beats audio setup with woofer in it(yes a woofer) and this still blew it away bass and all. The screen is amazing. The USB 3.0 is Amazing. It runs everygame Ive threw at it in not just high but MAXIMUM graphics (These games include: The Sims 3 with Supernatural Expansion, APB: Reloaded, Need For Speed World, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, Vindictus, Microvolts, RaiderZ, DC Universe, Burnout Paradise, Lego Star Wars III: Clone wars, NBA 2k13, Blacklight Retribution, Rusty Hearts, and tons of console Emulaters), boot up time aint to bad either.

Cons: Oh god dont listen to these microsoft lovin windows 8 fans. The mouse gestures will have you twisted in a minute. I turned them all off and it wasnt to bad. learning how to navigate windows 8 isnt to hard but the OS in general is a pain. This laptop would benefit from a 2x4 GB ram set up for 8 gig total and a 7200 rpm hard drive if you have the patience, but its not to mandatory. Runs HOT when playin games (Laptop fan helps). Havent tried it yet but might be a good Idea to Downgrade to Windows 7.

I been an Acer fan forever, they never let me down. I send in for warrenty repair they fix stuf that I never mentioned like keyboards etc. These products always impress me and dont let anyone tell you they are not durable, I have a Aspire 5732z that has made 2 falls from the kitchen counter, an asphault impact in the driveway with no bag, and bumped off the couch. Yes its taken dings, lost the disk drawer cover, and even broke the screen hing covers but to this day its still a good reliable laptop. If any one asks my opinion, Acer's are the best Decently priced laptops out there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2013
Bought this to be a temp replacement for an old, slow laptop until I can drop money on something a bit more expensive. I work as a graphic designer and illustrator, so the majority of what I do is in Adobe Photoshop/ Illustrator. The newer versions of Adobe products have upped their requirements for GPU's and this one should have worked.
It was terrible, Photoshop constantly hangs up, stops responding and sits there processing, even on lower res files. Imagine my frustration when this computer actually performed worse than my old computer on the programs I use all day. With some more research, turns out that dual graphics don't enhance PS performance at all. And, the switchable graphics are buggy at best. I'm not a big gamer, so I can't speak to how well it works for that.
All the other (non-Adobe) programs worked well and were fast. It takes some time to get used to Win 8, which I'm pretty sure was designed by people who have never had to be productive at work. But that's consistent across recent MS design.
Other little things. The keyboard is not quite sensitive enough, but that takes some getting used to. It would be nice to have a button on the hardware to turn off the touchpad, which always seems to be in the way of my big fat hands. I'm typing along and all of the sudden I'm reading a Bing article. Surprise! Of course, I am used to a 17" laptop, so that's part of the problem.
The Dolby speakers are definitely louder than what I'm used to, of course, after a certain point, the have a lot of distortion/buzz. It's kind of like you are taking little tiny speakers and turning them up way past their actual range, wait, that's exactly what is happening. I don't expect much from laptop speakers, but if Dolby is going to tout their performance, then I'd expect more than the buzzfest that I got.
Soooooo, since this computer is practically unusable for my purposes, I'm returning it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
This laptop is perfect for someone who wants to play the latest games, but not the high price of full-fledged gaming machines.
Plays games usually on high graphics, not the max graphics.
The keyboard is is very responsive and features a keypad, a nice add-on.
As other have said, the top is a shiny black which shows every piece of crud on it.
The battery also is great, lasting about 3-4 hours.

You won't regret buying this laptop.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
Pros:
Powerful machine that can run most modern games on medium to high settings.
Runs a majority of programs effortlessly.

AMD Dual Graphics settings allow you to set how much power you want running to certain programs [Adobe, video games, converters, you name it] or which programs you want to run in power saving settings. A great way to avoid future hassles with programs you use all the time.

Video quality is superb in combination with the monitor and the dual graphics card.

Sound quality is beautiful, the speakers are flawless.

Cons:
After arriving late, opened up the package and began uninstalling Windows 8.
[you must totally format the hard drive and leave it unallocated in order to install Windows 7]
Took a few hours to get all the drivers back on it, and after some searching, managed to get the graphics card fully functioning.
[Install AMD Catalyst 12.8, restart, 12.9 embedded, restart, and AMD CAP 3, restart, followed by 13.1 to avoid BSOD]

Should you choose to keep Windows 8, that would cut out some work. But that's up to you.

Runs hot, look into a good cooling pad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
One of the most affordable gaming laptops. Very fast laptop and you can play most of the latest games (not at highest settings but still at playable settings).
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