Its Core i7 processor makes this the most powerful laptop we've seen and it's fantastic value, but we wish it had a higher-resolution display.
15.6 in 1,366×768 display, 3.0kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM, 4.00GB RAM, 450GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Acer’s 5940G is the first laptop we’ve reviewed with one of Intel’s new Core i7 mobile processors, the 1.6GHz 720QM. It flew through our benchmarks, scoring 99 overall, the highest score we’ve seen from a laptop, and only just short of our reference desktop PC. For £1,000 you also get a decent graphics chipset, a 500GB hard disk and, amazingly, a Blu-ray writer.
Intel’s new processor architecture displayed significant performance increases over previous models. For example, Asus’s G71Gx, which uses a Core 2 Quad Mobile Q9000 chip, scored only 78 overall in our benchmarks. The Core i7’s clever trick is its Turbo Boost Technology. This overclocks the processor automatically when you perform demanding tasks. The 720QM’s base speed is 1.6GHz, compared to 2GHz for the Q9000, but the new chip can overclock a single core as high as 2.8GHz, or spread the speed boost across two or four cores as required.
The ATI HD 4650 mobile graphics chipset isn’t as ground-breaking, but the 5940G scored an impressive 40.8fps in Call of Duty 4, and we even got Crysis running at the display’s native resolution after disabling anti-aliasing. It’s not suitable for serious gamers, but it’s quick enough for the odd game and will speed up video-encoding tasks with the right software.
Our key complaint is the 15.6in screen, which has the usual resolution of 1,366×768. Considering the other specifications, it’s below par. If you’re spending this much money on a powerful laptop, then video and image editing would be two probable uses, and such tasks require a lot of desktop space to achieve efficiently. Plugging in a second display would be one answer, but you can’t lug it about everywhere.
Apart from this gripe, the screen is gorgeous, with good brightness levels and vibrant colours. It uses an LED backlight, which we found to be even across the entire screen. The glossy finish isn’t ideal for brightly lit rooms, but it does lend a pleasingly saturated look to deeper shades.
With a Blu-ray writer onboard you can watch HD movies and burn your own HD footage to Blu-ray discs. The HDMI port will come in handy for making the most of such movies on an HD TV.
The internal speakers are clear and give an impressive sense of space, and there’s also a mini-jack coaxial S/PDIF output if you want to connect external speakers. It has all the ports we’d expect, an ExpressCard/54 slot, multiformat memory card reader and built-in 802.11n wireless and Bluetooth.
The keys are flat but adequately spaced, and the layout is standard, our only niggle being the left shift key, which is half-width. Despite the keys being a bit wobbly, we found the keyboard comfortable to type on, with a light action and crisp feedback. The touchpad is large and has a responsive surface, but the buttons are a little on the stiff side.
In terms of raw performance the 5940G beats any laptop we’ve seen. It’s also a bargain, especially when considering the specification as a whole. We can’t help but feel it’s a little misconceived, though, as editing images or HD video on a 1,366×768 screen is far from ideal. Still, if you’re happy to connect an external display for serious work but still want a really powerful laptop that you can carry about, then this is a great buy. HP and Dell are bringing out similar models, and we’ll bring you reviews of their laptops next month.
|Intel Core i7 720QM
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek High Definition Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
|DVD+/-RW +/-DL, BD-R/RE
Ports and Expansion
|Total Firewire ports
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
|minijack audio output/S/PDIF (shared), minijack audio input, minijack microphone input
|Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
|Operating system restore option
|backup and recovery software
|Microsoft Works 9, NTI Media Maker
|one year RTB