I picked up the acer 5670 from a friend at
compusa yesterday for a mere $1000 after
employee discount and rebates. I got this
notebook to be my portable, as my sager
5720 can crush in the games dept, but I need
something a little more portable that I can just
whip out quickly. So, while my 5720 is being
painted at smooth-creations I will be getting
to know this notebook a lot better.
Here are some of my first impressions:
The Screen -
I had read a lot of complaints over the screen.
This was more in regards to the travelmate 8200
series. However, I also read some people complain
about this screen as well. I have been using my
sager 5720 with 1920x1200 resolution constantly
now for about 2 months now. In comparison, I am
please with the 5670's screen. It gets plenty bright.
I would say it is a very average gloss type screen.
I have no complaints in this department. For a screen
with a 1280X800 resolution it is very nice.
The Keyboard -
The keyboard isn't too bad. It isn't as nice feeling
as the sony keyboards, but it does feel more durable
then say a s-460 vaio's keyboard. One thing that
is rather annoying is that when you type the middle
button for the trackpad vibrates making this very
noticable noise. I have read that someone put a
small sliver of rubber down into the gap and that
took care of the noise. Later, I actually did the same thing.
I placed a small sliver of eraser down into the crevice between
the track pad and the middle button. This eliminated the
springy noise that is very annoying and constant when typing.
After using the keyboard for a while now, I have gotten
used to it. However, it does have some flex to it. It would
say it is not as good as the one on the 5720, which I am
really starting to miss lol ...
There are some music/video keys on the left hand side of the keyboard.
I had not used the keys at all, and didn't really pay any attention to them.
But today I can confirm that they work in most music and video programs.
I tested them to work in itunes, winamp, and windows media player.
The Trackpad -
I very rarley use trackpads on notebooks. I just
do not like them. I have never found one that was
really good. I have owned no less than 12 different
notebooks in the past 2 years, and not one of them
has been noticably better than the others. I absolutely
despise the trackpad on my 5720. I never ever use it. Instead
I carry around a usb-key laser mouse by microsoft. That
being said, this trackpad is surprisingly good. The
middle button did not work how it should have
when I first started up the machine. But with a new
driver download it now works fine.
This trackpad has to be the first that I have
ever liked! Synaptics provided the trackpad for the 5670,
and it is phenominal to use. No jumping around like most.
This is surprisingly a very quiet notbook. You cannot
hear the fan, but a very faint air flow. Of course I am
use to hearing my 5720, but in comparison to a 12"
ibook it is just slightly louder. The heat is no issue at
all. The palm rests get slightly warm. The air vent is
towards the back of the right hand side of the notebook.
It doesn't ever seem to get hot, but just slightly warm.
When under heavy load you can start to feel the warmth
build up under your hands as you type. But this is normal.
I have continuously ran bit-torrent (up&downloading), dvd decryptor,
dvd shrink (encoding dvd video), nero burning rom (dvd), several
internet windows, word, adobe photoshop cs, limewire, and a game.
There is no slowdown, or delays while running all of this stuff.
Contrarily to the sager 5720, it does not disrubpt my entire
class when the fan kicks in. It is very quiet.
The Sound -
The sound isn't great, but what can you expect now
days from a notebook. The speakers are in the front.
They sound pretty good, but not great. If you compare
it to the 5720 it is about them same. The audio jacks,
mic jacks etc, are all in the front. This can be a bit of
a pain since if you wanted to hook your notebook into
a set of speakers you would have to route the wire from
the front of the notebook. The multi-card reader, wan,
bluetooth, and activity lights are also all in the front.
Oddly enough, nothing is on the back of the notebook,
except for the LAN connecter and DVI out. There are
four usb 2.0 ports. There are two on the left side close
to the front, and 2 on the right side right in the middle.
I can see why this would irritate some people. I would
also prefer the ports to be in the back. Also on the right
side is the vga out, s-video out, one mini 4-pin firewire
port, and the pc card slot. On the left side is the slot-loading
dvd-rw drive. As some may know slot-loading drives are
loud. But, for some odd reason I like them much better
than trays. I am always afraid that I am going to
somehow break the tray.
One thing I have learned about slot loading drives: You
cannot use the small media. For example the mini-cd's
or the mini-dvds that you use with camcorders. I have a sony
camcorder that I have been using. I had to use my desktop's dvd
drive because the slot-loading cannot take it (obvious maybe but
I installed the audigy pcmcia card. I had tried to install this card
in my sager, which only caused chaos and havoc. There however,
are no issues at all with this card and this notebook. The two work
flawlessly together. All I did was load up the drivers and then installed
the card. The sound through the card is beautiful. I tested the sound on
two sets of headphones: Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA surround sound headphones,
and my set of AudioTechnica ATH-A900's. Both sounded very nice. Even through some
crappy sony vaio desktop speakers the sound is nice (shown in pic).
The initial setup is rediculous. If you let it run through,
the system will unpack and install a whole onslaught of
junk that you will not want. This process also takes
several reboots and a total time of close to one hour.
This is very redundant since you will spend another
hour getting it all off. If you have your own copy of
windows xp pro, I would suggest that you just pop it
in and reformat the whole thing. You can get all the
drivers you need off of various website, and mostly
from the acer website. You will also see a boost in
performance if you do this. Not very much, but enough to be worth it.
You will see that the stock setup will be running on a hard drive
format of FAT32. I have always used NTFS and prefer to do so.
When I formatted the hdd to put my own copy of winxp pro on
I reformated in ntfs and also recovered the partition that contains
all the backup software.
As far as the battery life is concerned, It is about the same a pentium
mobile notebooks (or now core solo). This notebook gets about 3 hours
battery life using acer's powermanagement software which is included.
This software is not that great, but it does allow you to taper the
processor speed and turn off unwanted devices. The 3 hours is achieved
with turning off firewire, lan, cardbus, and bluetooth (wireless is left on of course)
screen brightness at 50% (can go lower to get more life) and processor management
on max battery. Once Notebook Hardware Control comes out with support for the
core duo chipset you will surely be able to get more battery life. (afterall with nhc
I have had nearly 3 hours from my sager 5720!)
Motion Camera : Acer Orbicam
The camera built into the top of the screen works really good. It can rotate
down and back so that it is viewing what is in front of the notebook. The camera
I believe is a 1.3 Megapixel. It also actually has a zooming lense which most do not.
This is very much needed when you are using a camer mounted on the top of the
screen. Even though it is better than the sager camera that is non-zoomable and
cannot be rotated, if you are going to be doing a lot of web-caming then you will
probably want to get a standalone usb type.
Call Of Duty 2:
Here are my settings for COD2:
DirectX Mode: 7
Soften Smoke Edges: Everything
All Textures: Extra
With these settings I get 70-110 fps. This is
very playable. But, with all honesty playing
with direct x 9 is not an option. With very low
settings under direct x 9 it was unplayable at
17-25 fps. However, I play COD 2 multiplayer
with direct x 7 anyway because it allows me
to play better, and at a high resolution (on my sager)
there is very little difference between the two.
F.E.A.R : DEMO
I downloaded the demo of fear to just see what it could do.
I have played fear on several machines and even with my high
performance desktop fear could not be put to max.
Here are the results:
Since it was the demo I could not get the fps range like in the actual
game. But, the game was very playable at the following settings.
Anistropic Filtering 2X
All vga settings to Medium
Volumetric Lights Off
The game looks pretty good - Again I am used to 7800gtx sli I might be biased
But under these settings the game is very playable.
This is the first time I have used pcmark to benchmark a system. Since
this system is not a graphic superpower, i thought this might give a
little bit better feel on how powerful the system is.
Here is the ORB link -
The score was 2996
*again, crummy drivers and no overclocking options yet*
3Dmark score of 1716
CPU Score of 4604
Here is the ORB link -
I would not reccomend this notebook for avid gamers.
I will say, this is not a gaming notebook. You will
see much more performance from the 6600 go or
x700 256mb equipped machines.
However, I have not been able to find out how to
overclock the X1400. ATI's drivers are indeed horrid,
and the modded ones offer little benefit. ATI Tool,
and ATI System Tray do not work as of yet for this
notebook. I believe this to be more a problem of the
motherboard/chipset/bios, and not the gpu iteself.
We will more than likely see better performance boosts in
this area in the future as more tweaks and drivers are released.
Indeed, once various tools are developed this notebook
will be a lot more useful. As of now you are stuck with
the provided acer power utility to set power profiles.
Also, as mentioned before there is no (easily findable)
way to oc the x1400. I would hope that once the card
was oc'd it would produce more around the 2500 3Dmark05
range. This would be a sweet spot for a lot of gamers.
Honestly though, I am not sure as to why they did not
offer the x1600 in this notebook, and reserve the upcoming
x1800 -x1900? mobile gpus for the big 17"ers -
Overall, so far I would say this is the perfect
notebook for a portable solution. It can play
games, if you are just wanting to mess
around during some down time. But, it is very
thin and portable yet the screen is big enough
to not strain your eyes. It is quiet and pretty
cool on the temps so for me it makes the perfect
portable to compliment a DTR.
Hope you all enjoyed the review. I will be adding some comparison
plus additional benchmarks in the days to come.