The Aspire 5741 combines outstanding build quality with brute processor power to become our first choice for a budget laptop.
Acer’s Aspire 5741 is part of the latest generation of surprisingly inexpensive laptops with Intel’s powerful Core i5-430M processor. With an Overall score of 86, it easily rivals the performance of laptops that cost around £800 just a couple of months ago. Admittedly, the Aspire 5741 has a little less RAM – 3GB – and lacks a powerful graphics processor.
The Core i5’s has a built-in graphics chip and, while its performance a significant improvement on the on-board Intel graphics chipsets found in Core 2 Duo and Quad laptops, it’s no rival for the latest dedicated ATI mobile graphics chips. It managed 10.2fps in our Call of Duty 4 test, which isn’t bad considering the Aspire’s price.
The rest of the speciation is basic, but functional. We were pleased to find a 320GB hard disk where some rivals have seen fit to install a 250GB drive. There’s also the expected DVD rewriter, a trio of USB ports, 2.4GHz 802.11n WiFi and an HDMI output that means you’ll be able to watch 1080p video files on an HDTV. None of this is massively exciting, but it’s exactly what most people need.
The industrial-looking pitted effect on the lid isn’t the prettiest, but it won’t pick up fingerprints and should resist scratching. The keyboard surround and screen bezel are an attractive combination of gunmetal grey and glossy black. The full keyboard, complete with cursor keys and a numeric keypad, is comfortable to type on thanks to flat, widely spaced keys. The keys feel light and responsive while typing. The touchpad, positioned just below the space bar is comfortably positioned on the wrist rest, with plenty of space at either side. The rest itself becomes a little warm during use, but not uncomfortably so.
The 15.6in display is bright and clear, with clean, even whites and deep blacks. We were particularly pleased to find that it didn’t look too grey or pick up any unwanted colour tints at lower brightness settings. Like the displays of most similarly priced notebooks, it has a resolution of 1,366×768. This is sufficient for a screen of this size, but you can connect an external display if you need higher resolutions. The built in speakers sound good, with a decent amount of volume and even a bit of bass, although guitars sounded a touch fuzzy in our test tracks.
If you’re after a powerful laptop for a bargain price, the Aspire 5741 is a great choice. It’s comfortable to use, has a good display and a reasonably large hard disk. At just over four hours, its battery life is long enough to complete most tasks away from a mains socket.
There are a handful of similarly specified laptops around, such as Advent’s Sienna 500, but the overall build quality, battery life and hard disk size make the Aspire 5741 our first choice and well worth its slightly higher price. It’s a Best Buy.
|Intel Core i5-430M
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek HD Audio
|Intel GMA HD (Core i5)
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, SDHC, MemoryStick Pro, MMC, xD
|Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
|Operating system restore option
|burn own restore disc
|CyberLink PowerDVD 9, NTI Backup Now 5, NTI Media Maker 8
|one year collect and return