Aspire 7551G 17 Inch Laptop
A few weeks ago we had our first look at an Acer product, the Acer Aspire 1551 Notebook. Today in our lab we have something a bit more powerful, the Acer Aspire 7551G. Make no mistake, this laptop is a processing power house. It's fully capable of video encoding/decoding thanks to it's 2GHz AMD Phenom II N930 Quad core CPU. If you are into gaming it has one of the most powerful graphics processors to ever grace a portable product, the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650. That's right, a DirectX 11 laptop that can play today's latest and greatest titles.
The 17 inch laptop segment seems to be a hot bed of activity as consumers are looking at replacing their traditional desktops with something that can be used on the go without compromising all of the performance they've grown accustomed to. Walk in to most brick and motor stores today and you'll find that 15-17 inch portables are a large part of the selection. You can expect to see more reviews of portables this size coming up! Let's take a look at the specifics of the Acer Aspire 7551G.
- AMD Phenom II Quad-Core Mobile Processor N930 (2MB L2 cache, 2GHz)
- 4GB DDR3 1066 SDRAM
- 500GB SATA hard drive, 5400RPM
- 5-in-1 card reader for optional MultiMediaCard, SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO or xD
- CineCrystal HD+ 17.3" (1600x900) high-brightness (200-nit) TFT display with LED backlighting
- ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 with 1GB of dedicated GDDR3
- Integrated Acer webcam, 1280 x 1024 resolution and Acer Video Conference Manager software supporting 1280x1024 resolution
- VGA and HDMI with HDCP support ports
- Two integrated Acer 3DSonic stereo speakers
- High-definition audio support
- 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Gigabit LAN
- 103-key Acer FineTip keyboard, independent standard numeric keypad, hotkey controls, international language support, Multi-gesture touchpad supporting two-finger scroll, pinch, rotate, flip, 1.8mm key travel
- 16.3" (415.0mm) W x 10.8" (275.0mm) D x 1.1" – 1.4” (27.1mm – 34.3mm) H
- 7.3 lb. (1.4kg) with six-cell, 4400mAh battery
- 90w AC adapter
- One-year and labor limited warranty with concurrent International Traveler’s Warranty
This is a power house of a laptop, a quad core processor with a significant graphics card for gaming duties. At the price of about $1000 it's not cheap but that's the result of compromise.
The Acer 7551G Laptop
The LCD screen is called a "CineCrystal HD" and is a 17.3" TFT display. It has a native resolution of 1600x900 with LED backlighting. It's powered by an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650. At the top of the bezel is a web camera with a resolution of 1280x1024.
As we stated on page one, the keyboard is full-size and includes the side number pad. The keys are well spaced and are completely flat, so it can be easy to mistake one for another. There are no backlights for the keyboard and no outboard illumination so in the dark you'll have to rely on the screen's brightness to help you find any key you're not familiar with.
The track pad area is set directly below the spacebar and has a nice smooth surface to it. The multi-gesture touchpad supports up/down and left/right scroll, pinch, rotate, flip. The "mouse" buttons require very little force to activate which means the laptop isn't going to move when you push them.
On the top of the Aspire 7551G you see a great looking finish and the Acer logo, it also has a very nice feel.
The bottom of the Aspire 7551G is all business, with many vent slots to help keep the underside of this monster cool. What you can't really see behind the vent slots is that there are dust covers inside to help keep the mainboard and fan clean. The warm part of the Aspire 7551G is on the right side of this photo, where you may just be able to make out the fan behind the lower right vent holes. The fan is never very loud and does a good job of keeping the system from burning your legs.
On the right side of the Aspire 7551G we see the two USB 2.0 ports, DVD R/W drive, and a Kensington lock slot.
On the left side we have the AC adapter plug, RJ45 LAN adapter, the primary exhaust vent, the VGA out connector, HDMI out, and a third USB port.
The battery is a 6-cell 4400mAh lithium ion which Acer rates at up to 5 hours.
Now that we've had a look at the hardware, let's take a look at how it all performs.
Acer Aspire 7551G Test Setup
Our Acer Aspire AS7551G-5448 came preloaded with Windows Home Premium 64-bit. We allowed the system to run Windows update and also updated to the latest 10.11 Catalyst Mobility drivers.
The N930 quad core CPU runs at a top speed of 2.0GHz. In the CPUz screenshot above you can see the aggressive throttling down to just 800MHz to lower power consumption.
The 4GB of memory in our Acer Aspire AS7551G-5448 runs at 1333MHz with 9-9-9-24 timings. As you can see, the memory is based on Nanya IC's which are rated at 1333MHz. As far as memory upgrades go, there are none. The system supports up to 2x2GB of DDR3, which is what is already in the system.
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 comes equipped with 1GB of GDDR3. With the notebook plugged in Power play was set to maximum performance, which is why we see the clocks running at full speed.
And finally we have the Windows 7 Performance Index. The hard drive in our system had the lowest subscore here, giving the system a 5.9 rating. Overall, this is a very capable system!
x264 HD Encoding, Sandra 2011, & wPrime
Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.
The Acer AS7551G is battling for the top spot here with only the Core i7 720 having a significant advantage on the second pass.
SiSoft Sandra 2011a
A year ago, SiSoftware released Sandra 2010 with full support for Windows 7; in the 18 months since the launch of Windows 7, more than ever before we have seen the line blur between PC and entertainment hubs. Two months ago we released a Blu-Ray benchmark, now we have added a brand-new Media Transcoding benchmark using the new Media Foundation of Windows 7. We have also added yet another benchmark (GPGPU Cryptography) which allows direct comparison of CPU performance (using crypto instruction sets) and GPGPU performance.
This is a "new" benchmark since Sandra 2011a was recently released, so we only have our pair of Acer portables to compare against each other. The larger Aspire 7551G has nearly double the memory bandwidth of the Aspire 1551 which makes since it's a quad core versus a dual core.
wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.
Again we see the Aspire 7551G battling for the top spot. It's bested only by the 1.6GHz Core i7 720QM processor which is a quad core CPU with Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost up to 2.8GHz.
Starcraft II & Left 4 Dead 2
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. A sequel to the award-winning 1998 video game StarCraft, the game was released worldwide on July 27, 2010. It is split into three installments: the base game with the subtitle Wings of Liberty, and two upcoming expansion packs, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty has had a successful launch, selling three million copies worldwide in less than a month.
We tested Starcraft II at two resolutions. The first is at the notebook's native resolution, the second is by connecting a 1920x1080 monitor to the notebook and making that the only display device.
There really is no contest here, the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 found in the Aspire 7551G is in a completely different world when it comes to gaming performance.
Left 4 Dead 2
The Sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 involves the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic. There has been an outbreak of a pathogen that causes infected humans to behave like zombies. The four survivors have to fight their way through the hordes of infected, using safehouses along the way to rest and recover in order to reach extraction points. This takes place in the southern United States, featuring Savannah, GA and New Orleans, LA.
We tested Left 4 Dead 2 at two resolutions. The first is at the notebook's native resolution the second is by connecting a 1920x1080 monitor to the notebook and making that the only display device.
Performance in Left 4 Dead 2 was excellent on our Aspire 7551G. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 again shows off its gaming prowess by hitting nearly 100fps at it's native resolution of 1600x900.
Battery Life & Power Consumption
One of the most important factors when purchasing a notebook is what kind of battery life you can expect from it. Manufacturers can make some pretty outrageous claims so we've set up our test to simulate a couple of situations that you may encounter.
Idle battery life is measured by enabling Windows 7 "Power Saver" power plan. Dim display is set for 3 minutes, turn off display is set to 15 minutes, and sleep is disabled entirely. Brightness is set 10marks from the minimum.
For our web surfing battery test the "Balanced plan." Dim is set to 5 minutes, turn off display is set to never, as well as sleep being disabled. We loaded up our active Facebook account, Digg, and ThomsonReuters news home page in Firefox, installed "ReloadEvery" and set each page to update every 30 seconds.
With more powerful components you get reduced battery life, that's just the way it goes. For a 17 inch laptop these are respectable numbers!
We are often curious as to what kind of power is used when a portable device is plugged in so we decided to break out our Kill-a-Watt and see what readings we could get for some usage scenarios. We have Idle, Idle while the battery is being charged, load, load while being charged, and charging only which is the notebook turned off but the battery being charged.
These tests were completed on "High Performance" power plan settings, which turns the screen brightness to the max. For our idle test we waited for 5 minutes after Windows has gone idle, we took a measurement from the Kill-a-Watt. For our load test we loaded up x264 benchmark and recorded the constant power draw during the first pass of the benchmark.
Considering the performance difference between the two, it's easy to see why the power use of the Aspire 7551G is double that of the Aspire 1551.
Acer Aspire 7551G Conclusion
Looking over the benchmarks it's easy to see that the Acer Aspire 7551G was built to be a processing power house. The AMD Phenom II N930 quad core CPU was capable of handling any type of number crunching load. If you have an aging desktop that you'd like to upgrade and would like to have the flexibility of it being portable then it would be tough to ignore a laptop like this. At $1000 (we've read it's gone for as low as $800 on newegg) it seems to be a great deal for its relative performance as far as laptops go. Nothing with integrated graphics is going to touch it for a while. Don't forget it is backed up with a one-year and labor limited warranty with concurrent International Traveler’s Warranty.
I really liked the screen quality on the Acer Aspire 7551G, though some may knock the glossy screen others like it. It really is a personal preference. The LED backlight was consistent and provided a clear view. Left 4 Dead 2 and Starcraft II are both pretty dark games, the black levels throughout both titles were great!
Having never used a laptop this large, it's a little overwhelming at first, especially coming from the 11 inch notebook in our last review. Once you get over the difference in size and realize how fast the Acer Aspire 7551G is and how well it can run games it's easy to see that you could take this to a LAN and have a great time with a no fuss set up. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 provides an excellent gaming experience!
All things considered I enjoyed reviewing the Acer Aspire 7551G. Personally, a ~120GB SSD would replace the spindle drive that comes standard. As Windows showed us, the hard drive is the bottleneck in this otherwise excellent desktop replacement device.
Legit Bottom Line: The Acer Aspire 7551G performs like a desktop and has the ability to be used on the go. Those in the market for an affordable gaming laptop should keep the 7551G on their short list.