The Bottom Line
Apr 2 2013 - Finding a system with a dedicated graphics around $500 is very difficult but Acer manages to do this with the Aspire V4-551G-8454 which is great for anyone that might want to have a laptop with gaming capabilities. Mind you this is not a high performance system but it is suitable for most people. There is a bit of a downside from the added graphics that includes lower than average battery life but this is a small distraction for those with almost no other choice at this price point.
- Dedicated Graphics Processor
- Nice Layout For the Keyboard
- True Quad Core Processor
- General Performance Still Less Than Intel Core i3
- Below Average Battery Life
- Glossy Exterior Shows Lots of Fingerprints
- AMD A8-4500M Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 7670M Dedicated Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 15" x 10" x 1.3" @ 5.7 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Acer Aspire V3-551G-8454
Apr 2 2013 - Rather than using an Intel processor, Acer has decided to use the AMD A8-4500M processor. Now this is a true four physical core processor rather than a dual core with virtual cores that you find in an Intel Core i3. This is certainly beneficial for those that might be multitasking but the overall performance of the laptop is about on par or slightly behind the Intel Core i3 depending upon the tasks. Having said that, this processor setup provides more than enough performance for the average user that might be reading the web, watching some movies or doing productivity work. It is even capable for PC gaming although it is somewhat limited by the 4GB that is found in most budget systems. It would be advised to upgrade the memory to 8GB if you are going to be doing more demanding tasks on it.
Storage is pretty typical of a budget class laptop. There is a 500GB hard drive for storing applications, data and media files. This is the average size drive for this price range. Performance is fairly basic thanks to the 5400rpm spin rate. If you do need additional space, there is a USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage drives. It would be nice to see more of the ports but at lest it has one. A dual layer DVD burner handles playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
The big reason to get the Acer Aspire V3-551G-8454 is the graphics system. I'm not talking about the display because this is the same 15.6-inch display panel that you find throughout Acer's low cost laptops. Instead, this laptop features a dedicated AMD Radeon HD 7670M graphics processor rather than relying on the integrated graphics found in most at this price. Even the graphics processor built into the AMD A8 CPU offers some decent 3D performance but the dedicated graphics means that this can actually capable of playing many modern games at the full 1366x768 display resolution of the panel. This also offers improved acceleration for non-3D programs as well such as Photoshop. It would be nice if the display had some better viewing angles or color and contrast but that would likely push the price much higher.
The keyboard and trackpad for the Acer Aspire V3-551G remain the same which is both good and bad. The keyboard is certainly better than past Acer models thanks to the move to an isolated keys and full size shift and enter keys. The problem lies with the trackpad and the new Windows 8 operating system. Many of the features of Windows 8 are best used with multitouch gestures and the trackpad had trouble with many of them. Best to learn the Windows shortcuts to get around the trackpad issues.
The battery for the Acer Aspire V3-551G is the same six cell pack used in most of Acer's lineup and features a 48WHr capacity rating. In digital video playback testing, the result was just under three and a half hours before the system goes into standby mode. This is a bit less than a comparable Acer V3 system equipped with an Intel processor and dedicated graphics. Of course more demanding tasks like PC gaming will result in much lower battery life from greater loads on the battery. It should be noted that more of the ultrabooks are starting to get close to the $500 price point and they will generally offer several more hours or running time but with less performance and graphics.
Typically, the Acer Aspire V3-551G-8454 is found for $530 but it is often on special for just under $500. This makes it an exceptional offer and one of the few that is available with dedicated graphics. Most systems below this price that will come closest in terms of performance will be using a similar AMD APU with their improved integrated graphics but they still come short. Such an offering includes the HP Pavilion g6 with a dual core AMD A4 processor but it can always be found for under $500.